Here’s the bottom line. If the only time you get to yourself at work is when you have to excuse yourself to hide behind the door in the public facilities (and I’ve had my share of those) this is the game you want to take with you on your iPad or iPhone.
If your boss micromanages so completely that he/she even looks to see what you’re taking with you, make sure your iPad’s on and showing a spreadsheet or that you’re talking to a work colleague on your iPhone even if you haven’t actually called anyone.
Then, as soon as the stall door is closed, plug in your headphones and play Pocket God.
Pocket God runs more smoothly on the iPad than on the iPhone. It deserves a full blown upgrade to an iPad HD version.
- You can be a benevolent or Old Testament God
- You don’t have to earn your way into levels
- The game has loads of special features
- The develops never quit improving game play
The only possible downside is that your spouse may think you’re infantile for playing. But, trust me, with enough time or a few more years of marriage, you’ll learn to accept it for the sake of the game.
In addition, I discuss the social dynamics of consistency, how spiritual and political leaning can color perceptions of perfectly innocuous pastimes, and, although I don’t actually write about it (with the sole exception of the subordinate clause that immediately precedes this parenthetical comment), wonder to myself if anyone is actually reading any of this.
The game I didn’t review
Jenny’s in a snit again, and this time with some justification. I promised her that on game day today I would review the one full fledged game with cats, Farm Frenzy 2. But I changed my mind at the last moment.
I could go ahead and review it today, but I like to get through all the levels of games that cost more than pocket change before I give them a full review. Unfortunately, I’ve been playing for four weeks and I still haven’t finished because the game crashes constantly just as I’m about to finish a level and collect my reward. So that should give you a heads up in advance as to the game’s rating when I do finally review it.
But, just to give you a sneak peak, so you can see why Jenny likes it, here’s a screenshot:
Can you guess why Jenny wanted me to review this game?
Instead I chose to review a game that’s actually an iPhone game, but that looks pretty good on the iPad even at 2x view (which usually ruins games). The game is only a dollar and for a game that cheap, the developers have devoted their lives to improving it.
Pocket God was one of two games I wanted to see upgraded to HD (the other, Mondo Solitaire, was upgraded and released the same day as the iPad). I personally think they should take some time off, refresh their spirits and then give us a full blown HD version. And this time, they can charge for it. I think their fan base is loyal enough to pay.
Another boys only game?
Carol sneers at Pocket God much the way she sneers at Dismount and Plants vs Zombies, which I reviewed last week. But this one seems to earn a special air of disdain. Carol is a bleeding heart liberal yellow dog female Episcopal Democrat (this particular combination of adjectives means, almost of necessity, that we are Low Church),1 and she finds it difficult to separate her political and spiritual beliefs from her appreciation of games. And on the surface, at least, Pocket God makes the other games appear to be the model of healthy cooperation and negotiation.
If only she’d been raised Baptist Preacher’s Kid like me, she would have long ago mastered the delicate art of turning the other cheek when your belief system smacks you with a contradiction. Or had she remembered her Emerson.2
The whole point of Pocket God seems to be to feed your cute little island dwellers to sharks, volcanos and piranhas; skewer them, laser them, drop coconuts and rocks on their heads; shake up their worlds with thunderstorms, tidal waves, hurricanes and lightning bolts; bury them and turn them into zombies. Oh, yes, and drop dodo bird turds on their heads.
By “cute” and “little” I mean “pygmies.” I don’t know if the word “pygmy” is PC anymore, but I think I’m off the hook since we don’t have pygmies in America.
This, however, is only the surface of Pocket God. While it is true you can probably earn the highest scores subjecting your pygmies to Old Testament wrath and Pagan style sacrifice, you can also encourage them to build warm, loving and supportive communities who share tribal stories and fight off wrathful dinosaurs and ice creatures.
Pocket God might not be considered a game since you don’t have to compete with anybody. Nor is it really a challenge. It’s just lots of fun.
And if you want to go head-to-head with other players you can use the Open Feint networking to issue mini-challenges.
You can play any level
Most level-based games require you to master one level to advance to the next. Pocket God lets you go anywhere you want. Bored with pitching pygmies into volcanoes? Move on to Zombie Island where they confront ghosts and spiders as well.
Some players can sacrifice their pygmies to the gods
Fling them to the volcano and it activates
When the volcano blows, everybody feels the wrath of You
Each level actually allows the pygmies to socialize without doing any violence to them whatever. They can fish, cook food on fires and play in igloos. They can dance. If you get bored with kindness but don’t want to sacrifice your population, you can take the Three Stooges route and bounce coconuts and dodo poop off their heads. Or you can have them fight off dinosaurs and ice monsters.
The natives can live their lives peacefully
Or you can limit the pain to toilet humor
Each level has a different theme, characters and dangers. Some, such as the undersea level, serve little purpose other than to inflict pain, but you can avoid them.
The kindest thing you can do underwater is skewer pygmies
The game gets better and better
Unlike many game designers, who abandon their games after release to develop other products, Pocket God’s developers continually add new features to their games. They call the new features chapters, and currently the game is at Chapter 32. That’s a whole lot of upgrades.
Since I bought my iPhone, they’ve cross-developed with other game programmers to incorporate mini-games into the chapters. One of the first games was the popular Doodle Jump. Personally, I think the Doodle Jump is okay at best, but my nephews (both in grade school) love it. I was going to introduce them to Pocket God to expand their horizons, but Carol quickly ushered me out of the room.
The Ooga Jump mini-game was developed from Doodle Jump
Many of the layers have secret mini-games. After you get tired of feeding your pygmies to piranhas or skewering them at the bottom of the ocean, you can send them to the bowels of the earth where they have to avoid being crushed between stalactites and stalagmites.
You can open a drain in the ocean
Your pygmies now face death by stalagmite under the earth
You can also create fissures in the surface to punish uncooperative pygmies. When the earth opens, they plunge straight to hell where they have to outrace flowing lava.
You can open fissures in the earth
Your pygmies will regret ignoring those missionaries
Loads of special features
Players can document their adventures, or just prevaricate and write completely outrageous stories with Pocket God’s storytelling feature. The game provides a complete script editor for titles, scenes, captions, dialogue and actions. You can be a Hemingway or even Shakespeare, or, compose the dramatic narratives that make up your pygmies’ scripture.
Type your script (or scripture) in the story editor
Watch them play out in the game window
The story editor illustrates the real disadvantage of playing an iPhone game on an iPad. You don’t get the iPad’s great virtual keyboard, but the rinkydink, one finger at a time, microscopic iPhone keypad. Even scaled to 2x it isn’t very useful.
The iPhone keyboard isn’t very useful
You can also customize your islands, props and characters with in-app customization packs. You can decorate to celebrate Christmas, Halloween or your alien abduction experiences.
The custom packs each sell for a dollar, and that fee covers the game on every iPhone and iPad in the family (we have four). I would recommend buying them even if you don’t want to use them because the developers deserve every penny they can make.
This is one of the fully blown alien custom themes
Much faster on the iPad
The game takes forever to load every level on the iPhone. The game loads in a snap on the iPad. And playing in 2x size doesn’t diminish the quality of the image.
Still, I really have to beg Pocket God’s developers to delay new features after the next upgrade and launch a fully blown iPad version. Charge $5. Charge $7. This app is worth it.
Jenny Manytoes rates Pocket God
Jenny Manytoes watches me play this game and can’t figure out what the fuss is out. She keeps pawing at my cheek to get me to let her play with the cats in Farm Frenzy 2. Of course, as soon as Farm Frenzy 2 crashes, she’ll get bored and go away.
This is why I prefer Pocket God and have bribed Jenny Manytoes an extra can of tuna to make biscuits. And for a can of tuna, she’s glad to do it.
If you like Pocket God, review it at the app store and beg for an HD version.