Futurama ended a few years ago, but, given its numerous revivals and cancellations, it could have a new season out in a year or two for all we know. Regardless, with most popular franchises, there are always tie-ins, such as movies, merchandise, and games. Futurama: Game of Drones is not the franchise’s first foray into the gaming world, but it’s the latest and most accessible. Unfortunately, it’s also the most unoriginal.
The developers at Wooga attempt to fill the void left by the show with Futurama: Game of Drones, an Android puzzle game. Right off the bat, some might be wondering why an animated sci-fi comedy would spawn a match-3 (in this case, match-4) puzzle game. The answer is that the formula is a proven money-maker in the mobile market, but the real question should be whether the show translates to the genre or not. The answer is yes, but not because the developers were creative with the gameplay mechanics or anything.
If I didn’t decide to try out some random games last month, I never would have noticed, but Futurama: Game of Drones is almost an exact copy of Cookie Jam in terms of gameplay. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll add that it doesn’t matter. Any game that’s even semi-popular will eventually be ripped off; all that matters is whether each individual game is good or not. Thankfully, this one is, and it tries to differentiate in other ways.
Aside from being mechanically identical, Game of Drones separates itself from Cookie Jam by having the Futurama license on its side, which is a great boon. In both games, you match four pieces of the same color and create combos, but only in Futurama’s game can you hear comments from fan-favorite characters such as Fry, Professor Farnsworth, and Zapp Brannigan (because Billy West voices 95% of this game). In one game, the levels are laid out in a map. In the other, you fly to each objective using the Planet Express ship. Ripoff or not, Game of Drones is more enjoyable. That is, unless you have a massive sweet tooth. In that case, Cookie Jam is probably more your jam.
Still, Game of Drones sometimes feels like its out for your cash. “A mobile game pressuring you into buying microtransactions? Inconceivable,” you might be saying, but it’s true. When combos are made, special pieces are formed which allow you to clear more pieces in same column or surrounding area. Oftentimes, even these aren’t enough to save you from replaying the stage over and over again, wasting your in-game hearts. Immediate extra hearts and board-clearing powerups cost money, so the merciless nature of some stages feels like the game really wants you to cave and spend some cash. Complaining about a mobile game having microtransactions sadly feels a bit redundant in this day and age, but the game isn’t perfect beyond that, either.
The music in Futurama: Game of Drones is repetitive, to say the least. Yes, the extended theme song of the show is always nice to hear, but the tracks of each level get old very quickly. Fortunately, this issue can easily be solved by turning off the background music (and sound effects, if you so please). Despite these flaws, the game is solid enough to be a decent fanservice-filled distraction while you’re waiting for the bus, and there are tons of references to the show to look for. As long as you play in short bursts, the microtransactions won’t bother you. Game of Drones definitely isn’t the most creative way to profit from a license, but, if you’re a fan of the show and miss it, this should be good enough.
Futurama: Game of Drones falls into the usual mobile game trappings, but it’s still worth playing for fans of the show.