• Is the Amazon Underground Gameloft MLP Game Better? Time for Review!

    It has been about three weeks since the release of the Amazon Underground version of he My Little Pony Game, and I decided to dedicate myself to seeing how well it improves over the micro-transaction dominated version we have had for the past three years.

    Amazon had some pretty big hype going for the release of Underground, promising to greatly improve the experiences people have suffered through since the dawn of the Free-to-Play takover in the mobile scene. Does the My Little Pony game live up to that hype? Is it worth your time and effort now that gems are more readily available to progress with?

    Find out below! Time for some REVIEW!


    Lets start off with gem costs, because this is what the Amazon Underground version was technically supposed to amend. The in-game shop is, as they promised, completely gone. This... hasn't done a whole lot. When you first break into the game, you rapidly level up and feel like you are rolling in gems. I made the mistake of blowing them on stupid things early on, thinking it would always be like that, but it quickly dries up.

    Every day you get roughly four freebies, with a bonus going up to 10 on the 5th day, and each level up gifts a few as well. That's pretty much the extent of earning these things after the newbie quests. Sometimes clearing Parasprites awards one, but outside of that, gems remain ridiculously difficult obtain.

    The problem is how much things tend to cost. You can see above some of the new additions. A Trixie statue would require 3 days of waiting, and does nothing except decorate. The higher level buildings? Absolutely insane.

    Celestia is a whopping 430! And a basic pony like Soarin would take two weeks to get. You are completely screwed if your favorite pony is behind a gem wall, but it get's even worst when you factor in Balloon Pop.


    In what can only be considered the most obvious form of "getting kids to gamble" loopholes out there, you can throw your hard earned gems out, 20 at a time, for the chance at a pony. And this chance is ridiculously small. When I first started up, I had Trixie tunnelvision, and pretty much all of my gem income went into popping balloons for her. I never got a single pony out of it. I can't imagine how many parents came back to find little Timmy with a 300 dollar bill from buying gems to pile into the balloon pop slot machine in the original version of this game.

    Gem costs seem completely random in some instances. Here we have the expansion window, with my 1/3 cleared Ponyville. It costs a whopping 61 gems at this point.

    On top of that, they tend to position the "use gems" buttons in really bad spots, probably so kids will accidentally click them. I've done it a few times while scrolling around Ponyville. There are no warning prompts or anything. If you hit that gem button, your gems are gone for good. The EG game has "use gems" as the default selection. An impatiend kid blasting through the menus could easily accidentally hit these regularly.

    The incentive to spend these things is everywhere. You might get stuck with a quest requiring Fancy Pants, that sits there blocking other quests from coming through until you either drop the 6 gems to skip it, or buy the pony and do it for 50.

    I've had this one in my quest log forever now. There are so many other things I'd rather buy, that I'll probably never get to it.

    The other cities (Sweet Apple Acres and Canterlot) are extremely expensive on their own. I haven't really ventured into them due to the scaling costs being so high right off the bat, which is unfortunate. Canterlot actually looks like it would be a really cool map to build out on.

    There are quite a few random bugs and absolutely 0 responses from Gameloft on fixing them to go with it. I've heard horror stories that the base game remains broken in a lot of areas, with no plans to patch. I can't imagine spending money on some of these things only to never have a fix.

    The Amazon Underground version has a few that seem to randomly effect people. Up above is something that could have potentially fixed some of the ridiculousness that is Balloon Pop, but gifts just aren't working at the moment to give people hearts to gamble with.

    Joining that one is a bug that forces you to close the game out without having the city you are upgrading open, or it pauses the in-game timer and nothing progresses. For a game that is literally 100% built around not playing it half the time to wait for timers, that's a pretty big oversight.

    This next bug might be something to do with specific tablets (in my case a Nexus 10),  but the EG game actually requires you to hit the notes off-beat in order to gain "perfects". I've played a lot of rhythm games over the years, from DDR and Guitar hero to finger based stuff like Stepmania, and I've never had to physically force myself to hit a note late to do well.

    Again, this could be a tablet issue, but most rhythm games have some way of synchronizing to fix that.

    Will we ever see an update address any of this?


    One thing this game does incredibly well is the buildings. Every single one has a whole bunch of tiny little details, with some excellent themes to go along with what they are. The artists absolutely nailed creating a super interesting looking Ponyville. The mane salon has a Donald-Trump level wig on top, and the Ice Cream stand makes me crave some Cold Stone.

    Rainbow Dash and Spitfire continue to have some of the coolest architecture around, with everything you'd come to expect from the pegasus race and their mansions in the sky. Zecora's hut looks just like it does in the show, and Twilight's Library brings on the feels. R.I.P. ;_;7

    The ponies like to gather together in various parts of Ponyville and interact with one another. It's cute to watch, and outside of a few wonky animations (I can't tell if they are doing the worm, or bucking), they all seem perfectly lively and happy, even with you forcing them to work long hours in the flour mill for bits.

    Some models in particular look really well done, primarily with some of the more complex characters from the show. Zecora is probably my favorite of the bunch.

    There are a few duds. The taller colts look absolutely ridiculous. But I don't know many of you that best pony Mr. Cake anyway.

    If you just want a relaxing "sit down and play with ponies" experience, this is pretty much where it shines. Playing ball with Fluttershy is adorable. This aspect does get grindy, and unfortunately one of them doesn't even have the pony model present outside of the selection screen, but we are playing this for the ponies, not the stellar gameplay experience.

    Outside of gems, the other form of currency actually makes sense. They do tend to topple you with as many ways to drain it as possible, but it's manageable at least. If you invest everything into shops, it tends to build up pretty quickly. That being said, it's still a marathon, and some squares like the one in the image above are absolutely ridiculous to open up. It will probably take me 2-3 days from unlocking the square to clearing it in this case. That's a little bit overkill on the goldsink.

    One game I actually enjoy is the mine cart one. It reminds me of those old Donkey Kong games. It does have a pretty pointless upgrade system though. I don't think you'd ever actually recup your bits with the Multiplier or Magnet upgrades (and they scale to crazy costs as you buy more). Boost is the most important, and most expensive, with shield joining the other two in uselessland.

    I've been told that the Windows version of the game lets you hold these powerups and use them when you want, but I haven't found a way to make that work with Amazon Underground. That would definitely go a long way in making at least Shield worthwhile.


    I have to admit, I've never been a huge fan of this new Free to Play Farmville thing that has cropped up over the last few years. The idea of playing by... not playing just doesn't make much sense to me. The timers on this game get incredibly long, with some of my shops reaching almost a day between collections. I guess I can "get" it if you travel a lot and constantly check your phone and just want to tap things or play with Fluttershy for 1 minute, but that doesn't seem too engaging to me.

    Maybe I'm just getting old. Back in my day, we'd sit down and play a game for an hour or two without having to wait for anything other than loading screens. The new era of mobile gaming creeping into my traditional video games is a scary concept. We already see it flooding MMORPGS with daily quests and World of Warcraft's Garrison. I want to get off the 2010-on wild ride!

    So, should you bother with the Amazon Underground version of the MLP game? I guess it would depend on a few categories:

    Did you spend a bunch of money and time on the original one already? Stick to that.
    Is this your first time and you just want some ponies to play with? Give it a shot.
    Are you a hardcore gamer looking for an engaging pony-based experience? Pass on it.
    Do you just want to play with ponies while sitting on the bus or subway? Why not.

    I'm sure you can snag your scenario out of those. As for me, I'll probably tap it once a day just out of boredom, but it's not something I'm going to praise as the second coming of mobile entertainment, and definitely not worthy of the glories of pony.