Viewers who regularly tune in to American Idol can accept a certain level of mediocrity. After all, it’s the talentless mobs that make the first few audition episodes so entertaining, and as the season progresses, half of the fun is making fun of the singers’ voices, outfits and personalities. While the TV show thrives on making bad performances enjoyable, the American Idol iPhone game is loaded with poor game design and cheesy video clips that aren’t fun at all.
Sure you are…
Rather than a singing title, this American Idol presents itself more as a behind-the-scenes look at contestant life. Your contestant is guided through a story through multiple choice questions from full-motion video actors playing trainers, fellow contestants and media hangers-on. A typical scenario unfolds early on at the auditions when you flirt with a fellow contestant with a chance to pursue a behind-the-scenes fling. Later, the media will hound you with questions about your relationship, and you’ll have to decide whether to lay it all out in the papers, or play it cool.
While these storylines are meant to convey the feeling of being a celebrity, they’re just obvious and clichÃ©d. During the course of your glide to stardom, no real risks can be taken. It’s impossible to blow your career by, say, being caught driving drunk and then taking a swing at the arresting officer. Celebrity life would be an interesting topic to explore in a casual RPG, but according to this game, becoming a finalist on American Idol means you’ll simply be pestered with inconsequential decisions.
Your success as a contestant is based on Style, Fame and Talent points, which can be earned by spending your free time at locations like a salon, fancy restaurant or karaoke bar. Talent, the most interesting attribute of the three, can be improved with a simple tilt-based rhythm minigame, where you move a star up and down to snag scrolling notes while your character sings along.
The 10 songs featured in the game aren’t too bad, ranging from oldies like The Supreme’s “Stop in the Name of Love” to glitzy pop like Madonna’s “Material Girl.”. But with just 10 in total, you’ll probably sing several of them more than once. If this aspect of American Idol was more developed, with a greater number of songs, it might be worth playing on its own. However, the game’s musical segments are just brief stops on the fabulously dull journey through Hollywood.
The American Idol game also makes some odd choices to pad the length, the same way the show tries to drag out dramatic moments. For example, you’ll find yourself sent back to your hotel room after every performance, but you have nothing to do there except click through to the next day. Also, you have to make a special trip to the rehearsal room just to pick your song — your vocal coach will praise your choices no matter what. On performance and results nights, old clips will play from the TV show featuring the original three Idol judges and host Ryan Seacrest, but it’s apparent that these introductions serve no purpose other than to remind you that you’re playing an officially licensed title.
Any personality from the TV show is lost in this dull, mindless game. You’ll feel like you’re sleepwalking your way to being a celebrity, instead of being an active participant on an exciting journey. As a promotional tool, we’d rather see the music minigame released as a free App, because the full game’s multiple choice questions and lazy leveling up is a complete waste of time. This American Idol game is like sitting through a bad audition — we just want it to go away.