It’s a Doggy Dogg World
Picture this: It’s a sunny, spring day, about six years ago. Tennis practice let out early. You’ve braved the sleepy backroads of Southeastern Pennsylvania in your chariot, a 2005 Subaru Forrester, now parked in the driveway next to the neatly mowed green lawn. But on this bucolic, suburban afternoon, you’re inside on the computer chair in the basement, hooked up to the speakers and logged into Spotify. The entire universe of copyright-cleared music at your fingertips and what do you choose? Snoop Dogg’s 1993 masterpiece Doggystyle? Not bad, kid.
Speaking from experience, I highly recommend this album–if you are of an age where your parents allow you to listen to music with bad words, of course. If you’re like me, and can’t remember the 90’s very well, then you probably know Snoop not so much as a rapper but more so kind of like a very chill, modern-day Renaissance Man. He pops up in movie cameos, Comedy Central Roasts, the WWE Hall of Fame, and Martha Stewart’s house. He’s always working on a new project and smoking lots of weed. His latest venture is the mobile game, Snoop Dogg’s Rap Empire, which I am going to tell you about today.
Ain’t Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang
The developers behind Snoop Dogg’s Rap Empire are DiGGital DoGG studio. I couldn’t find their website, so we don’t know who exactly they are. With a name like that, it honestly could be anybody. Anyway, the game itself focuses more on the business side of hip-hop. You won’t be rhythmically tapping beats or filling in rhyming ad-libs or that. This is a simulation game, where you have to decide how to spend various resources to progress as time passes.
Start by choosing one of the four preset characters. That’s you, and unfortunately there’s no way to customize yourself or change your outfit. But fortunately for you, legendary rapper Snoop Dogg found your mixtape lying on the streets of Long Beach and decided to take a chance on you. With his help, you can finally build that rap empire you’ve always wanted.
Along the way, you’ll buy instruments for your studio, recruit an entourage and participate in various modes of land development. But to succeed in the rap game, you’ll first need to make some music. Lucky for you, your character is constantly writing songs with a level of efficiency that only the rapper Viper could hope to match. The songs make money too, so naturally you’re constantly getting that “cheddar” (money) as well.
With money you can buy and upgrade instruments for your studio. The quality of instruments increases your tunes (how fast you produce songs/money), hype (how well you perform at concerts), and some other third thing called tapping power that I don’t quite understand, but I’m sure it helps (because otherwise why would they put it in the game? I trust them).
Drop It Like It’s Hot
Every time your character finishes an album of 20 songs, a timer appears on the screen counting down to your next concert. You perform in the concerts by tapping on the screen to fill up a bar before time runs out. It’s a race against time, but it’s never about how fast your finger is. Success or failure depends on your hype level. If you succeed, Snoop himself descends from the throne to hit you with a “Not bad, kid,” and gift you with a loot box. The loot box contains crew member cards, blue stars, and bling. It’s all stuff the aspiring rap emperor or empress needs and I’ll explain why.
Using the crew member cards and blue stars, you can hire or level up your crew, a colorful cast of characters that will help you in your journey by providing various benefits. Bling can be used to construct buildings that boost hype, tunes, etc. You’ll need these substantial benefits from them to progress. You can earn lots of bling by signing a new label. Each time you sign a new label, you’ll lose all your money and the instruments you bought, but hang on to your crew members, the buildings you’ve built and the progress you’ve made in concerts.
Nuttin’ But the Dogg in Me
I enjoyed meeting and getting to know the crew members in this game, as they were a diverse and funny mix of characters. Take Boss Trill for instance: he’s a big man with an even bigger heart, and he is kind of like a hype man. There’s also Gristle. All of the crew members have descriptions on their cards like “agent,” “stylist,” or “social media manager,” but the one for Gristle just says Gristle. Gristle looks and speaks like the reject villain from one of those not-well-known, C-tier Grimm Brothers stories. He mostly hangs around and says stuff like “It’s me the gristle boy, hee hee hee,” or just “Oooooh, hehehe.” I did not very much care for Gristle.
Concerts act as a barometer for how far you’ve progressed in the game. After completing certain milestone numbers of concerts, Snoop Dogg will invite you into his office to share his knowledge. He teaches you about the history of rap and his own life story, real OG stuff. They can’t buy you anything in the game, but these pearls of wisdom are the real treasure you get for playing.
Snoop isn’t the first stoner celebrity to develop a mobile game. But he still did a good job. Snoop Dogg’s Rap Empire wasn’t all monotonous tapping. It required a surprising amount of strategy. Yes, there could always have been more, and it does get repetitive a few hours in, but this was a pretty excellent first effort that kept me busy and was even a little hard to put down. It’s no Doggystyle, but that album was and always will be a masterpiece. This game managed to capture just a little bit of its coolness, and the joy I felt when I first heard it on that sunny spring day six years ago. So for that, it’s a winner in my book.
Is it Hardcore?
Add “video game developer” to the long list of professions that Snoop Dogg has made look easy over the years.