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The Peanuts gang makes it to the iPhone

By: 28 November 2011 One Comment

If it seems a bit disconcerting to have Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang appear in an iPhone app, that’s probably because it is.

Here’s something that might come across as more bizarre still — the whole concept works quite well in Snoopy’s Street Fair. Frankly, the game is based on one of those concepts that has proven quite successful — it’s one of those “building” games that puts the player in charge of raising money by running a street fair. Why is the street fair necessary? Because Charlie Brown and his pals need to raise cash for uniforms to play in the Little League World Series (there’s some irony there — Brown’s team was always awful).

What results, then, is a slow-paced game with charm to spare for Peanuts fans. We’ve seen that formula work well in the past — Snoopy’s Street Fair is the follow-up to Smurf’s Village and is also put out by Beeline, a Capcom company devoted to so-called casual games. Yes, this game is very much character driven in that fans will delight in making Snoopy jump into leaf piles, watching Charlie Brown wander around and generally have a hard time of things, setting up Lucy in her psychiatrist’s booth, etc. Throughout the game, there are chances to unlock minigames, collect comic strips (a major feature, of course), pick up baseball cards, grab various bonuses, etc.

Ah, but back to the whole “street fair” concept. The goal here is to build various stalls in order to raise money. You can have everything from Sally’s Lemonade Stand to cotton candy machines and a duck hunting gallery. Photo booths, cotton candy machines, a sweet corn shack and other various fun little enterprises are available. The player is able to expand his or her neighborhood, decorate with trees and chess boards and generally reshape the neighborhood into a playground for kids willing to spend money.

It is, in essence, a lazy little game that will be embraced by Peanuts fans and likely shrugged at by people who are not. Again, the characters are as important to the game as the actual mechanics are and that fact becomes obvious after a time. Simply put, this game is a great diversion that will be enjoyed for perhaps months, but the slow pace of it all may deter some after the novelty has worn off the app.

There’s also some frustration involved as this is one of those so-called “freemium” games. If you want Linus and his pumpkin pie booth, want Schroeder playing his piana, want to purchase that kite eating tree, etc., you’ll have to pay “Snoopy bucks” for those. You get two free bucks after you get enough experience to gain a level, but not very many — the programmers were obviously trying to figure out a way to get people to spend actual cash on bucks to get upgrades quicker. Patience will be rewarded, of course, but the act of running around the neighborhood and collecting money in hopes of leveling up quickly may well get old after a time (I’m not tired of it yet, but I imagine I will be one day).

By the way, this is one of those games with the lovely “in app purchase” ability. The game will likely appeal to kids and you just know they’ll want to upgrade in a hurry. Here’s a word to the wise, then — turn off those in-app purchases or you might find that junior has charged about $50 through your iPhone account. Adults may find it worth spending some cash to upgrade quickly, but I suppose that all depends on how much they like the Peanuts series and how much they want to invest in the Apple iOS platform.

And, yes, this game is very easy to pick up and play. In addition to being based on a familiar concept you’ve got Peppermint Patty out to keep you on the right path. She will call Charlie Brown on a pay phone (that’s right — cell phones aren’t used by the characters in the game) and give the roundheaded kid goals to achieve. Pursuing those goals teaches players the ins-and-outs of the game and gives them experience, to boot.

There is a social element to the game, too. Players can visit friends’ fairs, invite others to play the game, take snapshots featuring Peanuts characters and post progress on Facebook.

But, what about the artwork? The characters are instantly identifiable even on that dinky iPhone 4 screen and the neighborhood would do Peanuts creator Charles Schulz proud. For those who are curious about the audio, the “Linus and Lucy” theme plays during the title and you’ll find plenty of selections from the Peanuts cartoons popping up regularly.

All in all, this is a very entertaining title that gets more tedious as players go up in levels and the fair gets bigger. It’s well worth a look and you can either order through the iTunes store or get it here.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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