Some things have universal appeal. It’s hard to find someone who dislikes the taste of pizza, for example. Along the same lines, it’s pretty easy to get someone to laugh at a cartoon cat that mimics, in a ridiculous voice, whatever you say. This is probably why Talking Tom Cat has hovered in the Top 100 Free Apps list in the iTunes App Store for so long.
This app is best used with the iPhone 4, but the basics of game play are simple — it’s basically just to amuse yourself and your friends. Tom is a goofy, lanky, anthropomorphic talking cat who stands in the center of the screen, awaiting your input. If you speak to Tom, he will repeat what you say in a funny voice. You can pat his head and he will purr like a real cat, or you can poke at him to get on his nerves– again, like a real cat. Grab Tom’s tail to annoy him, or give him a glass of milk and he will gladly drink it. You get the idea.
The controls for the Talking Tom Cat app are simple. There are a few buttons at the periphery of the screen, and these will help you adjust the settings, but most of the time it is just you and the cat. This type of game lends itself well to a device with a touch screen and really stands out as on the iPhone. Unlike outdated digital pets of the past, you can really touch Tom to interact with him. You pet him the same way you would pet a real animal, and it’s one of the things that makes this app a delight.
Apart from all of these cyber-pet antics, Talking Tom Cat is also great for generating short video clips you can share with your friends through YouTube, Facebook, or e-mail. Since Tom will repeat whatever you say, it’s a great way to create fun birthday e-cards or personalized messages. While Talking Tom Cat is a free download, some of the features have to be unlocked through a $0.99, one time in-app upgrade. It’s not too much to ask.
The only real drawback to the app comes from its limited compatibility. The 3D animation will render slowly on a first generation iPhone, which is to be expected. However, the animations are a little sluggish on the iPhone 3G, compared to the iPhone 3GS. Any iPhone that runs iOS 4 instead of 3.xx will also be a little slow, but by no means unusable. Finally, iPod Touch owners should make sure they have headphones or earbuds that come with a built-in microphone, since the iTouch does not come equipped with a hardware microphone the way the iPhone does.
Talking Tom Cat is certainly a novelty for anyone, but older users will probably get over that novelty quickly. There are only so many tricks up Tom’s sleeve. Children, however, will likely laugh at Tom for hours. Talking Tom Cat is very kid-friendly: it is amusing, non-violent, non-competitive, and of course nice and affordable. If you need to keep your kids docile and distracted for long car trips, but you want to avoid games that could cause arguments between your kids, you might consider adding Talking Tom Cat to your arsenal.
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