Of the colossal wave of adult animated comedies that tried to ride on the coat tails of The Simpsons, Family Guy is one of the better contenders. It's sharp, well animated, and wobbles drunkenly between the extremes of being very adult and very immature.
So a game based on it was probably inevitable. In fact, this is far from the first. However, this new title, Quest for Stuff, is leaping joyously on to the free-to-play bandwagon. Does that mean it's a bad game? Of course not.
But it does mean we'll have to keep our wits about us as we try it on for size.First impressions
When I fire up Quest for Stuff, I see a loading bar emblazoned with the legend RANDOM_LOADING_TIP_1.
Clever stuff. Not only is the title already poking fun at the established tropes of mobile gaming, but it's doing so in a manner specifically designed to amuse nerds, who'll recognise the coding conventions of putting in placeholders and using underscores instead of spaces.
Except it does it again. And a third time. And then I realise I'm actually standing a fair distance from my wi-fi router and it might actually not be able to load messages When I move closer, it loads. And now I'm confused because I no longer know whether I've just seen a joke or a bug.
And confusion is my dominant mental state as I try to get to grips with Quest for Stuff.
I have to do quests, apparently, which largely seem involve dragging icons from one side of the screen to the other. Except sometimes I have to build things instead, for no apparent reason, which involves hitting some buttons. Except sometimes I have to collect things instead, which means tapping on buildings and then on the Stuff that appears.
It sounds awful. But actually, it's kind of okay. Because this is a Family Guy game, so it tries to be funny. And largely, it succeeds
There's an introductory video to start the whole thing up, during which the town of Quahog burns down. Chickens are involved. Once you're in the game it mercilessly lampoons its own conventions, the pointless grinding loops and sheer, absurd directionless waffle of way too many free-to-play games. It's funny. It's making me laugh out loud.
For now, that's plenty good enough to keep me going in spite of the fact I've no clear idea of what I'm doing or why, or the little nudges to spend money on IAPs, or the inevitable and ubiquitous timers. It's funny, and it makes me want to play it some more.Day 3: Humour Bypass
It didn't take much longer than the initial session with the game to figure out how it worked. It's pretty simple, really - almost excessively so.
The icon-dragging is how you make characters perform special actions, like making Peter play "Fat Leapfrog" with his son, or force Quagmire to do his "Giggity Strut." Not that he seems to need much encouragement.
These actions take time (often a lot of time) to complete, whereupon you're rewarded with coins and experience to pick up, which in turn allows you to build things or learn new moves respectively.
Buildings function similarly, except they do their stuff automatically. And it's combinations of these actions, and the items they generate, that fulfils quests.
However, as the game's gone on, the amount of time you have to invest to complete quests and gradually rebuild fire-damaged Quahog gets longer and longer.
And while it's fun to re-create a cartoon town in your own image, and while the jokes continue to be wickedly sharp, the amount of waiting around required really takes the edge off the punchlines.
It's a bit like going to see a comedian, and then just as he's about to deliver the laugh-line he stops and says he's going to take a three hour break unless you pay up.
Plus there are now two ever-present nag boxes in my quest window to buy stuff and link to my Facebook account. And that's no joke at all.Day 7: The joke's on you
After seven days, surveying my pitiful amount of progress is a pretty dismal and sobering affair. Especially considering how much time I spent to get this far.
That said, quality comedy writing ensured I had a good time getting there.
Getting the most out of Quest for Stuff requires that you approach it with a strange, oxymoronic combination of self-discipline and carefree abandon.
You do need to resolutely log on a few times a days to look at the status of your various quests, start up new ones if required, and enjoy the jokes. But on the other hand you have to totally not care about how fast you get things done.
There's not really any other way to look at a humour-based game that gives you 12-hour plus waits to get things done. And prods your funny bone constantly to spend real money to take the wait away.
While there's precious little actual game here, there's plenty of amusing content. Whether you think the time and effort investment is worth the humour reward is largely dependent on how much you enjoy the Family Guy TV show.
Fans will probably get a lot of enjoyment from this game, whether they spend real money or not. Everyone else is probably better looking elsewhere for their free-to-play fix.How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.