Game Review: Music Pets Adds Harmony to the Pet Game Genre

mplogoWhat has large cuddly pandas, New York rock n’ roll, virtual coins and talking squirrels? It’s Music Pets, one of the fastest growing games on the social gaming scene. The game has accrued 700,000 users in only a month, and is one of the most talked about applications on my news feed. The game is best described as a cross-breed between Pet Society and the Pandora music service… Yes, you read that right. Read on for the review!

Summary:

Music Pets

Music Pets combines music recommendations with the pet management genre to create a unique, high-production social game. The great collection of songs and pleasing presentation make the game a fun experience. It would be great to see more social interaction between pets and there is room for more innovation when it comes to the use of music.

Pros:

Great animation and graphics with lots of color. Good sound. Great selection of music. Unique method of playing music for friends’ pets.

Cons:

Limited social features for a pet management game. A few presentation bugs.

Full Review:

Gameplay:

The goal of Music Pets is to build up experience for your pet, so that he/she gains levels and then has all the stuff he/she wants: a nicer house, a lot of friends and any music they want. The key here is the music, since your pet can gain levels the conventional way, through giving gifts and visiting friends, but also by playing music amongst friends. For instance, when my pet Slinky visited my friend’s pet Slappy, I was prompted to play Slappy’s favorite song as we hung out at his house. I don’t have to play this song and the other music choices were diverse. From New York rockers the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to George Strait, Conduit Labs has done a great job of securing tracks that most players would actually care to play.

Recommendation

This is a good thing, because you’ll be playing songs a lot for Pets, as it’s one of the best ways to gain experience and money. Fortunately, you don’t always have to cut songs short, as you can start a song then continue along in your game without having to stop the song. That said, if you visit one friend then another in rapid succession, you’re going to need to start a new song from the beginning, thereby cutting your first song short. Also, the song player at the left side of the screen doesn’t have any progress meters, so you’re going to have to play songs from the beginning over and over. A nice touch is that when a song ends it fades out, which means the game isn’t too jarring.

paymentAs you level up and gain coins, you gain the abilities to change your pet type, your color and build up your house. This is standard fare, but the fact that you also get access to more music means that a powered up pet has the ability to rock all kinds of tunes, which is a nice long term incentive. You can also buy gold coins using Facebook Credits, which accelerates the pace at which you can build up your house and pet. The game uses Facebook Credits as its suggested currency, and the integration is very smooth.

My worry about the game is that it mixes two genres that may seem great at first, but after time passes, players may feel it’s a lot of work to jump into this game and hop over to friends’ places to hear music they’ve heard before. The system has to be designed such that players can get access to more music early, so that everytime they visit a friends’ house, they can hear new songs and get credit for doing things like listening the whole way through. Ideas like that will keep the game fresh and keep music listeners enthralled. Otherwise, they’ll end up muting the sound, playing their own music in the background, and Music Pets becomes Pet Society with less features.

There were occasional bugs in the game. Some of the pop up windows would remain overlapped and cause me to be unable to open the ‘play music’ window. Also, some of the home icons didn’t appear at times. When I stopped a song, then hit the mute button and unmuted, the song continued playing, which was very strange.

Presentation:

The presentation of Music Pets is a treat. From the cute, original characters to the great music and sounds, the game is pleasant to watch and hear. The animations can be a bit laggy on a slower computer, because of the big characters and surprising number of moving pieces, but it’s worth it for the fact that the movement breathes life into the game. The games’ environments and characters feel lively and interesting, and the fact that you can blast a great tune at any point makes it even better.

One big UI frustration for me was the fact that no matter what area you click on, the big curtain wrapper comes down and takes a few seconds to load up the new area. Even if it is a submenu, like “music collections”. I would like to see some of the submenus appear without a loading animation to speed up the pace of my game.

Lasting Appeal:

The game has strong basic lasting appeal in the fact that your character can level up almost indefinitely, and there are many great customization options.

TastesThe real lasting appeal comes in the music, though. Players are able to change their Pet’s music preferences by looking at a list of similar artists, and this has immense appeal even outside a game context. By finding new music and learning about similar artists and genres, players really have a great opportunity to engage with the game and come back to see what’s popular. Looking at the image above, we can see that the selection is quite staggering. Artists like The Raveonettes and TV on the Radio are big name bands whose songs are immediately known and catchy: they suit the game world well.

pets

The other great factor in lasting appeal is the great selection of characters that you can change to. From little aliens to rocking robots, you can really expand the way you look in the game. The trick here, though, is that it costs 10 Facebook Credits to change. That’s right, you can’t change your body at all unless you cough up a dollar in FB credits. It’s pretty interesting, and if the game takes off it certainly will be a great way to monetize, but only time will tell.

Most other features are purchasable using in game credits, which can also be purchased using Facebook Credits, but also can be earned through gameplay.

Sociability:

Music Pets, a traditional pet care genre game, has all the standard social elements you’d expect. You give gifts to your friends’ pets, you feed them to keep their energy up, you visit their houses to gain experience, you play music with them to gain experience and you customize your own pet to show off to your friends. There isn’t much innovative in the social realm on this game, and perhaps we’ll see more as the game iterates in the future. I’d like to see more interaction between mine and my friends’ music, for one thing.