Fans of The Simpsons can now spend time in Springfield with their favourite characters, including Homer, Lisa, Apu, Krusty, Cletus and Ned.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out first appeared in the App Store earlier this year but technical glitches forced EA Mobile to pull it for retooling.
The good news is the new and improved game -- designed for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch -- was worth the wait, but there are still some random connectivity issues that could slow you down. You also need an Internet connection to play, which might annoy some.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out lets you build up the fictitious Springfield in any way you want. Your help is needed as Homer accidentally wipes out the town when he causes a nuclear meltdown. By completing missions to earn virtual currency, and collecting doughnuts, you can purchase familiar buildings such as Springfield Elementary, Krusty Burger, the Kwik-E-Mart, Gulp N' Blow and Duff Brewery -- and place them in the town.
You can also purchase shrubs, fences and ponds to restore Springfield to its former glory. (Some buildings and characters are only unlocked after you level up over time and tasks.)
Fun things to do include planting "tomacco" (a tomato and tobacco hybrid), helping Milhouse hide his wet bedsheets before his mom can find out, letting Ned go on a "fun run" and partying with the Duffman on his Segway at Duff Brewery.
While you don't need to pay any money to play, this is a "freemium" game that lets you fast track by buying frosty pink doughnuts via in-app purchases. Doughnuts range in price from $1.99 for a dozen all the way up to $99.99 for 2,400 doughnuts. This is similar in concept to other building games for iPad, such as Zombie Farm (with brains as the currency) or Smurfs' Village (with Smurfberries).
The game encourages you to create a free Origin account, an online network run by developer Electronic Arts, and you'll earn some extra cash by visiting other friends' Springfields — though you can only visit once every 24 hours.
Created by Simpsons writers and animators, and voiced by the cast, the game is a treasure for fans of the show. The new Tapped Out also adds support for the high-resolution Retina display on the new iPad.
While a lot more stable than the version launched earlier in 2012, there were still connectivity issues that prevented me from playing (I was advised to try back later).
Overall, however, The Simpsons: Tapped Out is a fun "freemium" game that's well written, great looking and full of inside jokes for fans of the yellow, four-fingered family and their wacky neighbours.