Futurama is one of my all time favourite animated series – I’ve always felt that it’s far superior to The Simpsons and never understood why it’s the one that’s now been cancelled twice, perhaps outside of the fact that science fiction is generally a harder sell that a standard family comedy. So, I generally make time for any new Futurama related things that come along such as the new game Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow.
Despite Futurama being around for nearly 20 years now, Worlds of Tomorrow is only the second game based on the series (the last was the imaginatively titled Futurama: The Game waayy back in 2003) and again comes out after the cancellation of the current TV run of the show.
Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow follows the same basic structure as previous mobile games based on Fox animated properties, namely The Simpsons: Tapped Out! and Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, both of which have you building a town of signature buildings from the show in question as well as collecting key characters. The characters can then be set on tasks and of varying lengths, as well as story quests which earn ingame currency to buy more buildings and unlock more characters and so on. Having played Tapped Out! several years ago this all felt very familiar, as it’s very similar to that game.
Worlds of Tomorrow opens with a fully animated introduction, featuring the voices of all of the main cast of the series, and features the universe once again in danger with only the Planet Express crew to save it. A rip in space and time cause The Hypnotoad to meet his equivalent from another universe and breaks the galaxy. Nibbler saves Fry from being caught up in it and, back in New New York, then has to start collecting Hypnotons to clear the city and get everything back to normal.
One major new feature that Worlds of Tomorrow has that Tapped Out! didn’t, unless it’s added something similar since I quit, are the space ship missions. You can use the Planet Express ship to fly to a number of planets and select from a variety of routes through the map which will take you up against different enemies. Completing all of the quests on each planet will unlock and artifact that opens up a new area of the city that has unique buildings and characters in it.
The main type of missions that you’ll face in space are turn based battles, where your crew of characters go up against a variety of different monster and enemy types from the show. Initially you can only have three characters on a space mission, but as you collect the artifacts and open up areas of New New York this will gradually increase first to four and then five. The combat is fairly straightforward, as your characters have only a single attack and a special that charges as you take and receive damage. As you attack each enemy, a white circle will appear around their feet which will quickly fill up, tapping the screen as soon as it is full causes your attack to cause extra damage, and you can do the same while being attacked to reduce the damage taken.
There are five different types of character class in the game. Delivery Boys, such as Fry and Kif, have a single enemy attack with their special being a higher powered version. Scientists like the Professor or Amy have an attack that can hit enemies on either side of the target, while the special attack hits every enemy on screen. The remaining classes all do buffs with the special, and a single attack as standard. Bender and other Robot class characters have a defense buff, Captains like Leela have an attack power buff and finally Influencers like the Planet Express janitor Scruffy heal all player characters.
There are also a number of missions that give multiple choice options on how you wish to proceed or talk to other characters, depending on the choices you make you can end up with either rewards or potentially taking damage. As you complete the space missions you’re given career chips that come in either generic or class specific varieties. These are used to level up the characters to give them additional abilities as well as increasing their health and attack power during battle missions.
The majority of the art in the game is very much in the style of the original show. While in New New York you can see all of the characters that you have unlocked and, if you zoom in, the level of detail is actually quite impressive. They’re well animated and look just like the show, and that level of detail carries over to each of the buildings too. I wouldn’t have minded the ability to place some of the travel tubes that you see all over the city in the cartoon around my buildings. Maybe in a future update..
In the turn based battles, the art style shifts to 16-bit pixel art. The characters all have slightly shrunken proportions but are all easily recognisable. I do prefer the clean art from the rest of the game, but it does still look rather cool. When performing a special attack the character picture fills the screen which lets you see them in more detail.
All of the main voice cast return to their characters for the game. Each will have a few sayings when clicking on them, and it’s nice to hear new work from all of the actors again. There’s so far been once celebrity guest character, George Takei, and he performs all the voice acting for his character. The music and sound effects are all also spot on Futurama, and it really does sound like the show. Several writers from the show also contribute to the script writing including showrunner David X. Cohen, so as well as sounding right all of the characters speak just like they should too.
I started playing just after the launch week which, annoyingly, means that I missed out on the chance to get the Nixon and Agnew character (Arrrooo!) but he was a premium character and only available through the game’s paid currency of pizza – as much as I love the character in the series I don’t think he’s worth the frankly ridiculous £15 of real money he would have cost, so it’s not the end of the world. It does highlight a problem with this game that I also had when I used to play Tapped Out!, that some content and characters are only available during specific events and may not be available at all again in future.
The situation is potentially even worse with the current ongoing event, Lrrr Strikes Back! This massive chunk of new story and content, running for a whole month and labelled as Episode 1, has Lrrr and the Omicronian fleet invade Earth (for the fifth time) and has a number of new missions and actions for characters to complete. The event will be finishing in a couple of days, and it has had nine characters and several costumes that are only available during the event. This is a huge proportion of the twenty six characters available in the game at the moment, and will leave any newcomers at a disadvantage compared to other players when it comes to producing resources through character actions. The game is of course still quite new, so it’s entirely possible that these episodes will be re-run in future allowing new players a chance to experience the story and earn the characters.
One of the game’s biggest issues is that it’s one of the least stable mobile games at least that I can remember playing. It fairly frequently just crashes out completely with no error messages, gives random errors on start up (though these don’t seem to have any effect) and perhaps worst of all fails to reconnect if it’s lost internet access – the screen with Scruffy as pictured below has never reconnected for me. It gets stuck in a loop of asking you to reconnect and then telling you to wait 10 seconds so that you can try again and every time I’ve seen this screen I’ve had to kill the app and launch it again. The stability has increased somewhat since it first launched, but it’s definitely something the developers should be working on as a priority.
While I don’t know if it’s something I’ll keep playing long term like I did with Tapped Out!, as I have a lot more ongoing games that I’m playing these days, I’m really enjoying Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow so far and I’ll definitely be sticking with it at least until I’ve unlocked all of New New York and finished the storyline. As a Futurama fan, having what amounts to another series of episodes is definitely something I can’t pass up.