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My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic shines right out of the gate, but it loses its gleam when you hit the inevitable paywall. The core of the game -- building and expanding a town -- is fun and compulsive, while the repetitive mini-games are short enough to be only slightly annoying after prolonged play time, plus Gameloft pulled out all the stops in presentation. But your progress gets heavily stilted if you don’t shell out for in-app purchases, and it may be impossible to finish the story without spending big money.
The official voice talent reprise their roles as Twilight Sparkle and her many pony friends, providing quests and guidance as you rebuild Ponyville and free it from the darkness spawned by Nightmare Moon. You run shops and complete quests in order to gain more resources, unlocking more ponies and shops and letting you further grow the town. It’s a colorful, vibrant game, with lots of little touches that will delight fans of all ages.
There’s an insidious design practice at work here, however. The main in-game currency, Bits, come in just large enough quantities to keep most of this ticking, but the premium currency, Gems, are rare -- yet you need lots of both to progress even at early stages (regardless of whether you like to hurry the slow countdown timers). Having an army of several thousand Pony-playing friends may get you off the hook, since the social aspect brings big bonuses. Otherwise it’ll take hundreds of real dollars to stand any chance of seeing the story through to the end during this decade.
The bottom line. My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic is a fun addition to the Ponyverse, but its sparkling presentation and compulsive town building cheerily descend into a shady paywall that preys on fans of the show.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
Colorful, vibrant graphics. Full My Little Pony cast, including voice actors. Compulsive fun.
Repetitive, shallow mini-games. Impossible to finish without spending big on in-app purchases.