Pets in your pocket with Mobbles

Mobbles is a new iOS and Android virtual pet game from Mobbles Corp. The game bills itself as a “free location-based augmented reality app” that draws its inspiration from ’90s electronic virtual pet craze Tamagotchi and Nintendo’s popular Pokémon series.

In Mobbles, players are tasked with collecting and caring for the titular creatures. They are initially provided with a single Mobble to take them through the tutorial, but must subsequently either purchase or find new ones.

Players can interact with a Mobble in several ways. They can physically move them around, tickle them or punch them by tapping, dragging and swiping on the screen. They can drag food into their Mobbles’ mouths when they are hungry. They can wash their Mobble by dragging a “sponge” item over them. Or they can drop a toy onto the Mobble to give them something to do. It’s also possible to turn out the lights in the Mobble’s room, which will encourage them to go to sleep when they are tired. A “checklist” of tasks at the side of the screen provides players with a list of things to do with their Mobble, and successfully completing these tasks increases the Mobble’s affection for the player and provides soft currency. When a Mobble’s affection reaches a certain point, it will level up and gain access to more items such as toys and clothing, some of which must be purchased from the in-game store. If the player successfully increases a Mobble to level 5, they no longer need to worry about taking care of the creature — prior to this point, however, neglecting the creatures can result in their deaths.

To acquire new Mobbles, players must first have an empty room available. The first two of these are provided for free, but subsequent rooms must be purchased with soft currency. Once a room is available, the player has the option of either purchasing one of several different types of Mobble egg or catching them outside. If the former option is chosen, Beginners’ Eggs may be purchased using soft currency and provide a random Mobble, while Rainbow and Golden eggs cost hard currency and provide Mobbles that are more difficult to come by. Golden eggs provide access to exclusive Mobbles which cannot be acquired in any other way.

If the player chooses to catch a Mobble rather than purchase one, however, they are taken into a location-based minigame.  A Google satellite image of the local area is displayed, with nearby Mobbles marked. Players must physically move so that the Mobble they want to catch is within a green circular zone around their location and then tap on the creature. They are then taken to a separate screen where they must stun the Mobble by tapping it on the screen and then use a “Mobble vacuum” to capture it. The Mobble vacuum has a limited amount of energy to prevent players from catching too many creatures in rapid succession — though the recharge time may be bypassed using hard currency.

Social features for the game include the ability to share achievements on Facebook and also to trade Mobbles with other players. The Mobbles’ locations in the real world are persistent, so if several players in an area are competing, whoever gets the Mobble first prevents other players from catching it — this means that trades will probably become an essential part of the game for dedicated players, though this assumes that the game will find a large enough audience for this to become an issue in the first place.

Mobbles is very cute, with attractive, distinctive animations for the 50 currently available creatures. The in-game text features a few spelling and grammatical errors which could do with cleaning up — notably, in a few places, even the name of the game is misspelled. Perhaps a more pressing concern, though, is that the whole package really needs more for players to do in order to maintain interest over time — perhaps a Pokémonesque battle stadium, some minigames or other means of interacting with the Mobbles besides picking them up and throwing things at them would give the game a little more direction. At present, it’s a fun diversion but little more than that.

Mobbles is available now for iOS and Android devices via the App Store and Google Play respectively. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.