Developer: Lamplighter Games
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPhone 5
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Many popular games – particularly turn-based trivia ones – are free, relying on micro-transactions like in-app purchases or special offers to earn revenue without taking much away from gameplay. Sadly, Garfield's Trivia Party is not one of them. This potentially enjoyable diversion for admirers of the irascible feline is so riddled with in-your-face monetization that any chance for engagement is lost.
Playing solo or against friends found via email, Facebook, SMS, or random matching, players spin a wheel to determine the category. The goal then is to complete one of Jim Davis’s actual strips with the correct words in the last panel, which are blocked from players’ view.
It’s a multiple-choice affair, with several power-ups – you guessed it – available for virtual currency from the in-game store. If players are even passingly acquainted with Garfield and his friends’ basic personalities the answers aren't too hard to guess.
That’s really all there is to this minute-waster. If players opted for the asynchronous multi-player mode they can wait to find out if their opponent guessed right too and if so who guessed faster, and for truly devoted fans the strips can be shared on Facebook.
It wouldn’t be such a bad game but for the fact that monetization is beyond aggressive. See that screenshot on the left? You literally can not get past any action - even a menu tap - without some variation of it popping up. Periodically the game even forces players to tap away interstitials highlighting third-party offers. Most free games have this sort of thing in a menu, on the homescreen, or tucked away in a corner- but here the relentless assault on players' wallets is inescapable at every juncture.
There are several level packs beyond the free Starter Pack available for IAP, and it does seem possible to earn enough coins playing straight to unlock them. The question is, how many players will stick around to do so after being so crassly saturated with what amounts to a too-big-for-Garfield serving of lasagne-flavored spam?
The game doesn't look great either: the icon is pale and washed out and the splashscreen resolution is so low it's blurry on my iPad. And, oddly, the game plays in portrait orientation forcing players to tap through individual panels rather than seeing the whole strip at once in landscape.
If one is a die-hard Garfield buff, there is no harm in downloading Garfield's Trivia Party – there are no hard paywalls that I encountered, so players can try a few rounds gratis. But I’d be surprised if anyone kept the game on their device for very long. There are simply too many better free games out there that aren't such blatant money grubbers.