Version Reviewed: 1.1.0
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Location based social apps are all very 21st century. Trying to explain the point of an app like this to someone like my dad is a pointless endeavor. Even trying to explain the app to myself gives me a nervous tic. The genre was recently made popular by the app Foursquare, which lets you "check in" at different locations with your iPhone. This repetitive endeavor ultimately leads to you being declared the "mayor" of locations that you visit the most, while also letting you earn various badges telling you how awesome you are for going places. Does this perpetuate our generations feeling of needing constant approval for our actions? Sure does... but at least it makes a game out of it. It's like learning typing with Typing of the Dead instead of at school.
Booyah takes Foursquare's mayoral ownership out of the picture and just lets you go ahead and buy the places you go to. Like Monopoly, once you buy a property you collect rent on them. The more popular the place that you go to is, the more rent you can earn on it. For example, I was in Vegas this weekend and bought up some of the nicer hotels on the strip. Currently, my MGM Grand can earn $81,900 at a time while my CVS Pharmacy in Scottsdale only earns me $64,260 at a time. Along with popularity, rent total is based on the level of the structure you have standing there. My MGM is only level 3 right now, but with some upgrades it will not only look better, but will also earn me more. Rent accumulates on each property automatically until it gets to the max total ($81,900 for MGM). Once you reach the max, you have to manually go into the game to collect your rent.
In the meantime, just like in Foursquare, you have to check into places around you in order to buy them and to get points to gain levels. Each level you gain gives you the ability to perform a new action, such as buying another piece of property or giving you a new building to upgrade to. This point total also represents how worthy you are as a person. Each property has its own top 10 list, showing the most worthy of the individuals that own the property. My MGM Grand, although owned by me, is also owned by over 100 other people, most of which have more total points than me.
In the Las Vegas Airport, I explained this all to my dad, and he looked at me with a blank stare. "But dad, you buy up property and make a bunch of money to buy up other property and upgrade your buildings." "Yes Chris, but why?"
I don't even have the slightest clue.
In the 70's, a theory began that stated that if you did something for 21 days in a row, it would become a habit. Given the manic nature of iPhone users, I'd say that this number should be around 4 days. In this case, Booyah has created an app that is just entertaining enough, right off the bat, to make me come back. Now, after a long weekend of exposure, I have to keep going. Do I get any joy out of it? Not really... but it would sure be a shame to waste all the progress I've made.
As for recommending this app, I have a few reservations. You will certainly be entertained for a period of time. The graphics are all bright and cheery, and it becomes really fun trying to build up your city. In the end though, there is absolutely no point to MyTown. There is no conclusion to a storyline and no moment where you would say, man, that was a challenge. In fact, the point system itself is somewhat bunk because the game lets you check into as many things as you want, as fast as you want. If you really really wanted to level up quickly, just say pick two places near you and check into them in quick succession. Hell, pick 10 places and alternate... there is no limit to checkins. I'm absolutely certain that some of the higher scores that I've seen were just from people doing fake check-ins.
Here's my warning. Unless you are a genre fanatic, you will play this game and like it for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, but eventually you'll start to feel like a bum and wonder why you spend so much time collecting rent in your fake town.
"Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Lebowski? The bums will always lose!"