Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants

Review: Emoji Stars

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IMG_1802I should start with a caveat: I’m not really a fan of real-time social games. Being designed for quick turns between players, they are usually straightforward, with little content to them.

That’s why I find it puzzling that I’m still playing Emoji Stars after two weeks. The goal of the game is to describe a song to a teammate using only emoticons. Your teammate guesses your song’s title, and then sends you a new song to guess. All the controls are by touch, although sometimes you might have to drag letters into the right order to spell out the song title.

The right answer earns you and your teammate Stars (a form of currency) and lets you listen to what B-interaktive calls “the best parts of the song”. Clearly, what counts as the best parts of the song is debatable, but there’s the option to download the whole song in iTunes. As music is obviously an integral part of this app, it’s crucial that the game’s sounds were well-polished, and they were. Even the piano effects for selecting the letters were clear and timely, and the little bout of cheering you hear when you guess correctly was a cute touch. Further, once you guess correctly, selecting the “Song info” button opens Wikipedia information about the song, so if you were really interested you could learn more about the tune you just decoded.

A walk in the tree?

A walk in the treeflowerbeecloverflower?

Stars are earned for every correct answer, as well as for fulfilling the daily challenge or completing achievements, a list of which can be found in the menu. They can be spent later on song hints, such as the artist’s name or to bomb away the incorrect letters, or be gifted to other players, if you’re feeling charitable. There’s also the option to buy more stars with real money, but given how relatively easy this game is, it’s unlikely that you’d need to spend money to advance. You can also use money to get rid of ads, but the advertising is so unobtrusive, so that seems unnecessary too.

This is encouraging.

This is encouraging.

Although the gameplay is highly polished—there were no glitches or bugs that I came across—there are still a few areas which could do with improvement. For instance, the level of difficulty (measured by the number of stars that you receive for successfully guessing the song title) seems completely arbitrary, and I find the popup asking for one’s email address every time you start the game a bit obnoxious. Also, there’s no apparent option to delete a teammate, if they stop playing. Impatience aside from having nobody responding to your brilliant emojified interpretation of “Highway to Hell”, it means that if you outlast your teammate’s dedication to the game, you could potentially end up with a growing list of songs (and players!) in limbo, with no way to remove them.

Overall, Emoji Stars offers a fresh spin on mobile-based guessing games. The songs—pulled from the iTunes song library—span at least six decades and a diverse range of genres. It has a simple premise, but it’s executed brilliantly. It’s fun, fast, addictive, and worth checking out.

Get Emoji Stars here for free on iTunes.

Developer: b-interaktive

Publisher: b-interaktive

Release Date: February 19, 2015

Overall score: 9/10

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