Developer: TinyCo Publisher: Fox Entertainment Group Platforms: iOS, Android
If there could have been a Family Guy mobile game when the TV series was at the height of its ratings power and pop culture relevance about five years ago, it would have been a no-brainer success. Since mobile games didn’t exist in 2009 as we know them now, only Stewie Griffin’s time machine would have made that possible. As it is, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff has its moments, but with uninspired gameplay and jokes that don’t come as fast as they do on the series, it mostly just makes you want to watch your favorite episodes of the show instead.
The set-up is promising enough, relying as it does on one of the most beloved running gags from the source material: Peter Griffin’s endless feud with Ernie the Giant Chicken. After an unusually destructive donnybrook reduces Quahog to a smoldering ruin, you have to help Peter get started in fixing the town back up.
Given his questionable attention span, that’s a long-range task. Fortunately, you get other familiar faces, including Chris Griffin and Glenn Quagmire, in fairly short order. Once you have the Griffins’ house constructed and their neighbors’ homes fixed up, old Spooner Street starts to look downright recognizable.
The gameplay primarily consists of tapping buildings for coins and XP and completing quests by making the citizens of Quahog perform specific actions. Many reviewers have noted that this is quite a bit like The Simpsons: Tapped Out, and there’s no denying the similarities. Both games reflect their shows’ individual sensibilities though, meaning you’d only find something like “manly spooning” between Peter and Quagmire in this one.
The biggest problem with The Quest for Stuff is what Tom Petty once told us was the hardest part: the waiting. Every character can only perform one action at a time, so if you need Peter to dance the Shipoopi – and I love doing that, as it’s one of my favorite Family Guy sequences ever – he’s going to be tied up doing that for an hour or two. As a result, progress is unavoidably slow unless you decide to spend money on premium currency to get things done faster.
Since the game’s funniest moments tend to come from the dialogue between characters at the beginning or end of quests, and you don’t get to see them that often. The game feels like the antithesis of the show. At least on TV, if you don’t find one joke funny, there’s another one coming along a few second later. Not so here.
On top of that, while TinyCo makes good use of the awesome cast of supporting characters from the series, you’ve got to play a lot to get all of the Griffins involved. It’s almost criminal not to have Brian under your command right away, and Stewie makes few appearances except to use his technology to allow you to visit alternate Quahogs, a.k.a. the towns being built by your in-game friends. That’s assuming that aspect actually works, as the devs took it down during my review period to fix bugs in the social features.
Things are partially redeemed by the game’s visual elements, which are unquestionably excellent. In terms of feeling like you’re playing right in the world you see on TV, the designers nailed it, and everyone looks and moves just the way you’d expect. Dialogue is done by the real voice cast, and even the incidental music that plays while you’re assigning tasks or collecting coins sounds exactly like what you’d expect.
But are bursts of humor and high production values enough to win out over the interminably slow gameplay? Right now, I’d lean toward no, though there’s a lot of room for the game to get better with updates. Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff is probably essential for anyone who considers themselves a Family Guy superfan, but for everyone else, it’s likely to echo the current status of the show: funny when you remember it’s there, but not something you rearrange your schedule to do.
+ Trademark Family Guy humor
+ Has the look and animation of the show down pat
+ Real voice cast is on board and music is what you’d expect
– Requires hours of waiting between quests or spending for premium currency
– Uneven use of the main characters is a bummer