I’m supposed to explain to you what I thought about My Little Pony, a new adorable city-builder by Gameloft. I could make it really easy and say that it is a pretty charming, well-made city-builder and mini-game collection that is really nothing new. Sure, it has a nice pink coating of Pony magic all over it, but the mechanics have been seen a million times. This is par for the Gameloft course; they specialize in re-creation.
Really, though, if you consider the intended audience beyond those creepy Bronies you’ll see a game that is a bit more complex than the usual games for that age range. I mean, My Little Pony is not exactly a hardcore RTS but it does share some similarities. We, as ponies, are tasked with inviting new ponies into our fold, building new homes for every single one of them (and those homes take up a TON of space,) playing mini-games with each other to raise levels and to gain stars and other clickables, and to try and spread sunshine to the darker areas of the map, a clever unfolding of the standard fog of war mechanic. All the time players earn bits along the way, although I have no idea why the little building blocks are not called fluffs or poofs or something similar.
The music and sound is great, again an earmark of Gameloft. Say what you want about the massive, game-churning company, but they spit out high-quality stuff. It always looks good and runs well enough on almost any device. No wonder they make money. The animations of the buildings, scenery and especially ponies are smooth and nice to watch. Ponies even break out in dance contests — complete with the worm — and play together while holding conversations. If I were a tween I’d be mesmerized.
So, I dutifully built more towns and actually enjoyed some of the mini-games. Many of those games appeared to be made for an age group of around 5 or 6, not 12 or 15. Those mini-games often became very repetitive and boring. There are only so many times a 38 year-old man can play bouncy ball with a pink horse before he questions what’s for supper.
Having said that, I love looking at games like My Little Pony. They show how children or young adult’s games are becoming more sophisticated and how every new generation will now officially grow up with some sort of tablet in their hands. My Little Pony doesn’t drive the overall genre of Android gaming forward, but it does do a lot for younger gamers. It takes patience, time-management, hand-eye coordination and yes, a sense of style. Roads can be built and city layouts cannot just be tossed out willy-nilly. These are ponies, damnit, and they need a good-looking town to do the worm in.
Would I recommend My Little Pony? Yes, for younger players or for people who enjoy how adorable the thing is. (There are plenty of adults who do.) I would caution, however, that the younger person you give the game to understands how to avoid spending through all that virtual cash. It’s used to speed things up and can buy additional everything. It’s a fine payment model, but parents might watch over children’s shoulders while they play. Bronies can spend as they want.