Developer: FreshPlanet Inc.
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.2.47
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Remember how the original iPods had games even before the rise of the App Store? There was a Breakout clone, solitaire, and a clever, little music quiz game that had players naming songs in their own libraries as fast as they could. SongPop is the same basic idea but it’s a shame that it somehow feels less robust.

To be fair, SongPop does take advantage of its platform in ways not possible in 2005. Being a social game, it’s not just about guessing songs but competing with friends to see who can guess the fastest. Players can send challenges to Facebook friends, email contacts, or even random strangers and if the other party accepts then the game is on. Whoever creates the room picks a playlists with choices ranging from classic rock to modern rap. Then they listen to a song and have to identify what it is based on four options. After five rounds the final score is tallied and sent to the other player for them to try to beat. There are also periodic tournaments for players to enter.

It’s a fun concept and pop culture trivia like this has the sort of broad, mass market appeal necessary for social games. The problem is the song catalog just isn’t deep enough, at least not initially. Despite being a paid download, the game only comes with a handful of playlists while the rest are bought with coins. More coins and songs can be earned through victories but, as usual, the process is so slow that purchasing them with real money is really the only feasible solution. Coins are also used to buy hints and even shuffle the playlist choices if they get stale. It’s just unfortunate how soon and often that happens.

It’s understandable why the game doesn’t draw from the player’s own music library. After all, it’d be unfair to ask unsuspecting, mainstream consumers to try and name some of the weird, obscure stuff floating out there on hipster’s iPhones. However, maybe including a mode like that as a single player option could’ve helped because right now the game feels too insubstantial.

As for the rest of the package, it looks a little bland but it’s serviceable and the controls and interface, while not very streamlined, rarely get in the way. Everything about SongPop’s core framework is just fine. If only that framework, like pop music itself, wasn’t so empty inside.

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