Version Reviewed: 1.0
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The Muppets are starring in their first iPhone game courtesy of Walt Disney, and Animal, the crazed red drummer for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, gets the spotlight. The app is appropriately a music rhythm game built around Animal's drum kit, and it's a light-hearted take on the genre. The Muppets Animal Drummer is aimed at both kids and adults, and it comes across as half music game, half drum toy. The game itself doesn't have much depth as a result, but it offers enough polish and ingenuity to make it a worthwhile experience, especially for fans of the source material.
The core gameplay of The Muppets Animal Drummer has you matching drum patterns over the course of a song. Animal performs a drum routine for 4 beats, and you then have to match his pattern exactly. Each song has a different tempo that flashes on the edge of the screen, so you need to match the pattern with the rhythm to succeed. The drum kit is comprised of five buttons that correspond to five different drums and cymbals. As you combo streaks of correct beats, a Rock Out meter fills up accordingly. Once full, you can trigger a bonus session that lets you mash all the drums as fast as possible Animal-style for big scores.
There are a total of 6 songs to play through in Classic Mode, and you need a score of at least 3 stars out of 5 on each song in order to open the next. After you've completed all the songs in Classic Mode, Animal Mode is unlocked, where you can play through the same 6 songs at a much higher difficulty. The game starts out very easily, but gets deceptively complicated as you proceed. You'll need to memorize increasingly elaborate patterns, which often contain multiple hits per beat.
The Muppets Animal Drummer also has a Free Mode that lets you jam along to the songs of the game, as well as perform solo. You can then record a jam session for each of these scenarios, which you can play back at any time. The game also lets you jam along to your own music on the device, and gives you a choice of 4 marginally different drum sets to do so.
While the core gameplay of The Muppets Animal Drummer can be satisfying, the lack of depth really holds it back. The drums have a nice visceral feel, but the paltry list of rather short songs doesn't sustain the momentum for long. The app has a solid base, but the split focus between rhythm game and drum toy serves to limits its potential. It's fun and approachable, but don't expect a feature-rich affair.
The Muppets Animal Drummer may not be as expansive as the more hardcore games in its genre, but it is an earnest effort with a good deal of charm and some interesting wrinkles. The app serves as a good introduction to rhythm games, and to the drums in particular. It won't blow you away by any means, but those interested in the mechanics of the game and/or the Muppets will enjoy the basic gameplay while it lasts.
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