It's a strange day in L.A. There are pocket deluges all over town, but one corner on Sunset Boulevard is sunny and rain-free. The Happy Ending Bar and Restaurant has been transformed, at least for one night, into The Drunken Clam--a pub from the tiny, fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island, featured on the hit Fox comedy Family Guy.
(The transformation isn't entirely true to the show, of course--Family Guy aficionados know that The Drunken Clam doesn't sit on a corner.)
Fox and TinyCo, a San Francisco-based mobile game developer, have gone to decent lengths to create an authentic Family Guy experience. And that's because the two companies are announcing the joint venture they've been working on for over a year now: A Family Guy-themed cross-platform mobile game titled Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff.
Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff is a resource management game with a couple of twists that drive the storyline. In other words, it's a bit like FarmVille and other city-building casual games, but with a well thought-out narrative. The premise of the game is no surprise to any Family Guy fan: Peter and Ernie (the giant chicken) have gotten into an epic fight that has destroyed all of Quahog. You are Peter's helper protagonist, and your job is to help Peter rebuild Quahog and find his family and friends amongst the rubble.
You start out by building the iconic Griffin house and finding Chris, who's been scared...um...pants-less (to put it mildly), and who thus needs a new pair of pants. Here's where The Quest For Stuff differs from other resource management games (such as FarmVille): As you find each of the characters in the show, you must first "unlock" them before they can start helping you rebuild the town. To unlock a character, you have to satisfy their needs, such as finding Chris a new pair of pants. Satisfying each need takes time (resource management time), but it's as simple as performing actions and collecting dropped items.
As you unlock characters and rebuild the city, different districts on the map will start to open up. You start out on Spooner Street, naturally, but as the map grows bigger the game becomes more of a true resource management game. And, like similar games, you can build your farm, or, in this case, Quahog, however you like--you don't need to keep the Swanson residence on Spooner Street, for example, and The Drunken Clam doesn't need to be sandwiched between two buildings.
Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff is free to play, but it does feature a premium currency (golden clams) that can be purchased using real money. The premium currency lets you speed past wait times and purchase other upgrades, such as special outfits for your favorite characters.
In my short time with the demo version of the game, I managed to build up some of Spooner Street and unlock Chris and Bonnie. While buildings in the game give you money at the end of a certain period of time (different with each building), characters can perform actions that take different amounts of time and have different payouts. For example, Peter can perform his 'Bird is the Word' dance in a few seconds and drop you a couple of coins, or he can do something more time-consuming and drop you more money. You can choose what actions each character will perform -- actions are accompanied by animations -- depending on when you'll next check the game.
The game has lots of neat features for fans of the show, including animated decorations from different episodes, a social network parody for all of the characters (each character's page updates as you progress through the game and level up), and different costumes that can be earned or purchased. Costumes come with their own special set of actions--for example, Peter's mermaid costume lets him spray himself with a hose in a "sexy" way.
"We're all fans of the show, and we really wanted to make sure that we stayed true to the brand," Andrew Green, director of business development at TinyCo, tells me. "That's why we worked very closely with the writers to make sure that everything was really authentic." The writing, from what I saw, is certainly spot-on. There are a lot of different facets to this game, from the in-game social network to the different animations, cut-scenes, and dialogues between the characters, and it looks like it'll definitely be a delight to fans of the show, as well as casual city-builders.
The game drops April 10 on the iOS App Store and Google Play. At launch, it will only be available for Android and iOS, but Green tells me that a Windows Phone 8 version is possibly in the works.