The Game of Life Review (iOS)

The Game of Life - ThumbnailThis app highlights the pricing tricks that app developers play on the iTunes App Store. When I chose this app for review, it was only 99¢. As I write this review, the price has shot back up to $6.99. It is highly unlikely that I would have bought this app at such a price. Yet, I only need to visit a toy store to see that this app is still a good value. The board game version of The Game of Life can easily run $15. That’s a mismatch to me, as I think the app version is more fun.

I consider board games to be a fading invention. Sure, there’s something quaint about the smell of cardboard, but video games have surpassed boardgames in nearly every way. In concept, it seems like a fun family event. Everyone can sit down and play a nice game together. Yet, it usually doesn’t work out that way. Pieces get lost, it’s tedious to count the money, it’s difficult to schedule a time to play, there’s not enough people, it takes too long or there might be arguments over the rules.

With the app version, there’s less hassle. You can play solo, against the computer, or you can play with humans. The real version of The Game of Life doesn’t fit in a normal sized pants pocket. The app version better prepares you for a random life calamity. Maybe you’re stuck at the airport and your flight has been delayed – and your luggage doesn’t include boardgames. Suddenly, that $6.99 might suddenly seem like a bargain. The Game of Life is a fun way to pass the time.

This game is essentially is a life simulation. The goal is to retire with the most money, while mitigating the various calamities of life. As the players move through the board, they can choose a career, get married, have children and land on random life events. This app lets you be trendy but also nostalgic. It plays a lot like the real version, but it’s done digitally – with 3D graphics and cool sound effects.

It even has the iconic spinner. With a swipe of a finger, you can make it spin. (You can try tricking the spinner to get the roll you want, but it will warn you if you’re spinning too slowly.) That is the core of the game, as there’s very little skill involved in playing. Aside from a few good decisions, the game is mostly random – a lot like real life.

I tested things out in the solo-play mode. I liked how I could skip the boring parts. It was fun to watch the action transpire in fast-forward mode. I couldn’t get too lazy though. It was important to watch the actions of the computer opponents. They can be aggressive. The better I played, the more I got sued.

There are some pretty big flaws though. I couldn’t create my own character. I didn’t like that. I had to play as Mary, John, Rachel or Bob. I imagine that can be pretty awkward in a family of three boys. The lack of character customization is a bad game design decision. Also, you can’t mix and match opponents. Two human opponents and two computer opponents could liven things up. But unfortunately, the computer only plays in the solo mode.

Another complaint, the default music wasn’t that great. However, the game’s has options accommodate for this shortcoming. You can silence the Music entirely by lowering it to zero. The game also allows you to add your own playlist from your iTunes music. Since I was playing the Game of Life, I used “The Offspring” to test things out. With the recent addition of multitasking to iOS, this feature is obsolete. The Game of Life has been around the iTunes App Store for a while, but it’s still one of the top family games.

I like this app. It takes something traditional and modernizes it. But if you are interested in picking it up for yourself, I recommend looking out for another Electronic Arts sale. While $6.99 is not a lot for the classic Hasbro® game, I suspect that there will be a price-drop in the future.