When you played Pokémon GO, did you think to yourself, "I wish I could have this game, except hate myself a lot more while playing it?" Now you can, with Garfield GO, an augmented reality game that uses the same basic technology as Pokémon GO.
Right off the bat, there were early indications that playing Garfield GO was not going to be an enjoyable experience . When you first open the app, you get one of a few greetings that sound like they're being read by a fifty year-old man with no voice-acting experience.
"Hey there! Hungry for fun?" one greeting says in a too-deep Garfield voice. The fact that the app requires your camera and location access to function makes the voice feel unsettling in the same way as the show Wilfred, or those teddy bears with cameras inside them—you can't help but feel that the Garfield voice is watching you.
Garfield GO's similarities to Pokémon GO extend beyond the fact that they're both augmented reality games in which you use your physical location and camera to play. The main gameplay mechanic—flicking Pokeballs at Pokémon to catch them, is copied in Garfield GO.
Rather than catching a Pokémon as your first activity, Garfield GO allows its users the privilege of tossing poorly animated pieces of lasagna into Garfield's bowl. If you get the lasagna in the bowl after three tries, Garfield tilts back the bowl and pulverizes the lasagna in about two seconds. After that, he belches loudly and disappears into a cloud of grey dust.
Once you've fed Garfield, a thermometer appears at the top of the screen with "Colder" on one side and "Warmer" on the other. You're tasked with moving your phone in a circle until you hit "Warmer," all while the creepy Garfield voice prompts you with an occasional " Yeah" or " Me-ow." It sounded a little too similar to actual men who have catcalled me.
After you hit "Warmer," Garfield appears and points toward a treasure chest. Inside it, you'll find gold Garfield coins and prizes that could include a "Rare Comic," or a piece of junk like "Couch Springs" that you could've just as easily found in the actual streets of Manhattan.
The second prize that I had the opportunity to collect was a white fedora hat that you can make your Garfield wear . When you direct Garfield to "Change Hats" on your user profile, you find out that three of the eight hats that you can win are fedoras.
After travelling to a few of the coins that appear on your map and giving Garfield a few meals, you'll discover that you run out of food to feed Garfield and that game is left at a standstill. At this point, you have to buy food for Garfield using your coins. You can buy a donut, pizza, cake, or lasagna. These are all acceptable meals for Garfield, but if you get the food item into his bowl within your first three tries, your treasure chest reward varies in value in proportion to how much you paid for the food item. If you pay 350 coins for lasagna, you can get a lucrative diamond chest. But if you pay only 100 coins for a donut, you can only get a wooden chest.
In effect, the food you're willing to pay for indicates the confidence in your ability to toss the food into the bowl. Low confidence, donut. High confidence, lasagna.
After barely a day, Garfield GO managed to become a gambling app.
Coins can be earned at "Bistros" which are similar to the Pokémon GO gym. At the Bistro, you play a game that's like that Simon game , but instead of remembering the order that you press the colored buttons, you remember the order that you feed Garfield—you guessed it—a donut, pizza, cake, or lasagna.
I felt a certain irony in having a notoriously unhealthy cat that forces you to walk in order to play its game. I couldn't help but feel indignant when Garfield told me to "Go get it!"
In my experience, these Bistros are located at sketchy locations? One was on a block I've gotten catcalled maybe a dozen times, and another was on a street corner that literally contained the sign "Danger—Hard Hat Area." Luckily, I went to both of these Bistros when the real-world spaces were otherwise unoccupied.
Can you get around going to these Bistros? Yes! You can buy extra coins with actual money, this is a free-to-play mobile game, after all.
After playing this game for a day, I'm left with many questions, the most urgent of which is Who thought this was a good idea?
To me, it's unclear who the target audience for this game is. When Garfield says things like, "Diet is 'die' with a 'T,'" you can't help but think this game wasn't designed for children. But what adult in their right mind would play this game and enjoy it? The only viable audience I can think of is young people playing the game ironically, which is apparently happening. It's also the only reason I can think of for actually trying the game.