Mobile gamers just got a brand new entry in the Talking Tom series of pet sims and with a whole menagerie of cute characters to play with, we took a look at Talking Tom Friends.
Available now on iOS and Android platforms worldwide, Talking Tom Friends is just the latest in a long line of virtual pet sims from Outfit7. Supported by 5 seasons of animated adventures and kid-friendly merchandise, this wildly successful series of mobile games adds yet another variant to the Talking Tom franchise. While those of you without eager youngsters might not know who Talking Tom is, most of us will be familiar with the concept. Talking Tom Friends harks back to the days when egg-shaped LCD screen called Tamagotchi littered school desks and some of us learned what it was like to watch a digital pet expire. Things have moved on since then and thankfully this modern twist on a decades-old concept is a little more upbeat.
For the uninitiated, Talking Tom is an animated cat and while previous virtual pet games from Outfit7 feature many of the feline’s friends, this is the largest collection of anthropomorphic playful critters to ever be crammed into one app. Taking inspiration from previous Talking Tom titles, Tom and friends are presented to players in the sort of upbeat animated environment that is going to grab an eight-year old’s eyeballs and draw young gamers back into a world where every day is an upbeat adventure. Each of Talking Tom’s friends is presented in a manner that will be adequately familiar to regular fans of the franchise. If you aren’t normally an avid viewer of the sundry Talking Tom animation series then don’t worry, this isn’t going to tax your brain cells too much.
Presentation is Everything
As you’d expect for this brightly lit presentation and cute animal animation, you’ll find that the gameplay in Talking Tom is equally accessible. Players interacting with any of the characters in the Talking Tom household are tasked with keeping these mischievous pets happy. This essentially means tending to their needs while they wander around the screen presenting their demands in thought bubbles. From toilet duty to playing the guitar, or playing dress-up, there are tons of activities that this crew can get involved in and it’s up to the player to keep them from getting bored. While a good number of these activities require players to click and drag Tom and friends around the house to they can interact with items of their own accord, some of these demands also unlock a raft of mini-games. Requests to play a board game provide players with an opportunity to play a simple game of Snakes and Ladders while dragging an energetic doggo to a skateboard kicks off am endless runner style mini-game.
While talking tom starts with just a few activities and a mildly repetitive set of drag and drog parental duties, the core gameplay loop quickly expands this choice of activities. Performing basic maintenance, curing ouchies, and feeding the rabble rewards players with two types of in-game currency. Importantly, this provides players with an opportunity to get out of the house and go shopping. This isn’t really shopping but an excuse to open some in-game loot boxes. While these can drop a bunch of other in-game currency, which can ultimately unlock extras for your home, plenty of other items drop and are core to keeping the game engaging. Grab a guitar and Tom might introduce you to a Rock Band style rhythm mini-game or a microscope will add a pattern matching activity to try out. Each of these at-home activities also fills the coffers with in-game currencies allowing players to indulge in a range of extra activities, gather green, and head out to hopefully score more loot for an increasingly busy household.
While there are some other variations on this core loop, things ultimately progress uninterrupted, allowing players to grab new activities, clothes, and house decorations for their home screen. Of course, with any mobile currency, there are always ways to speed up the process of playing with your adopted pets. Players who want to bypass an activity, grab a free spin, or just double down on rewards can take on in-game ads or stump up the cash for in-game currency. Here’s the thing, however. The in-game ads in Talking tom Friends aren’t actually particularly obnoxious. For a title that is clearly aimed at casual players and kids, Talking Tom Friends has seemed to, at this stage, incur relatively short innocuous ads that don’t feel like they do much more than provide a bonus. Time gating for some elements still exists but at no time did I ever feel like I was being backed into spending money and never found the in-game store front and centre in my UI. While I’ve not been a regular player of Talking tom titles in the post, I’d suspect this virtual pet title benefits from years of understanding its audience.
Talking Tom Friends might seem relatively unambitious in some regards but knowing your audience mans this game is uniquely suited to a casual market. It’s a title full of cute characters, simple mini-games, and a rewarding gameplay loop that never feels like it wedges in a need to throw cash at the screen. Longevity and player investment is built-in by allowing owners to invest in new decorations and outfits for Tom and co, while making every action no more than a quick drag and drop away. Sure this isn’t a genre killer but with 13 million pre registrations, it never needed to be. Talking Tom Friends is just simply charming, and you won’t ever face that awkward conversation to explain why you killed your friend’s virtual pet. Talking Tom Friends is out now on Android and iOS.