animaldrummerI got a few Muppet-related gifts for Christmas 2009, from the ridiculous (Elmo Tickle Hands) to the even more ridiculous (an Ernie Snowbabies figure), but the coolest gift I scored was an iPod Touch. The very first thing I did with it was download the still-newish Muppet app, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìMuppets Animal Drummer,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù which is available now for iPod Touch or iPhone. Well… to be perfectly honest, I first downloaded that sweet app that makes your voice sound like T-Pain?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s, but Animal came immediately after, I swear.

Muppet Wiki says the Animal game is called “Animal’s Drum Set,” but the app calls itself “Muppets Animal Drummer, which, as Steve Swanson pointed out on a recent episode of his MuppetCast, is a really stupid name. The game itself, fortunately, is much less stupid.

The game play is pretty simple: Music plays, Animal beats out a rhythm, and you have to copy it by tapping the various components of the five-piece drumset (snare, bass, tom-tom, crash cymbal, and high-hat, in case any drum geeks out there were wondering) with your fingers. It’s a little bit Guitar Hero and a little bit Simon. Then you get a score and a rating from one to five stars, depending on whether you played more like Animal himself, or more like Bobby on that one episode of The Brady Bunch where he gets a drumset but he?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s really bad.

animaldrummer2You can unlock more songs as you go?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ So far I have six songs; there may be more that I just can?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t access because I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m not a good enough drummer.

One thing about the game that surprised me is that the songs actually sound like rock songs?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ They?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re not real classic rock hits like you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d find in Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but they?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re better than the dinky video game music I was expecting. There?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s also a Freeplay mode, in which you can play songs from your own iPod music library to drum along with, and you can even switch to some different-sounding drumsets. It’s mildly entertaining choosing a piece of classical music that has no percussion at all, and then playing on the “Rock” drumset.

One of the most fun things about the game is watching the animation as Animal flails around on the drums as you play, although I really wish other parts of the screen were tappable?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ It would have been fun, say, to see Animal glare at you for beeping his nose.

I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t think I could play the Animal game for more than about 15 minutes at a time, but that?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s pretty standard for iPod/iPhone apps. And it costs just $1.99, which I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d say is a fair price to have Animal in my pocket.

groversnumberspecialOf course, after playing the Animal game, I was hungry for more iPod apps featuring Eric Jacobson-performed Muppets originated by Frank Oz, so I downloaded the Sesame Street game Grover?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Number Special. Now that?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s a much nicer, less not-making-sense title.

This game finds Grover working at Charlie?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Restaurant, and once again his fat blue customer ?¢‚Ǩ?ìMr. Johnson?¢‚Ǩ¬ù has the misfortune of having Grover for a waiter. There?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s even some funny, brand-new video of Grover and Mr. Johnson (performed by Jacobson and Jerry Nelson, naturally) between gameplay rounds. The game itself is even simpler than the Animal game, which makes sense, because this one is a game for li?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢l folks to play on their parents?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ iPods. (At least, I hope preschoolers don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t have iPods. When I was their age, I didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t even have my own record player. When I wanted to hear a song, I had to sing it!)

groversnumberspecial2The point of the Grover game: Mr. Johnson orders the special, then Grover tells you how many of each ingredient he needs, and you have to tilt the screen to land them on a plate as they fall from above. (Is that how they prepare food at Charlie?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s? The chefs just drop everything from upstairs and the waiters have to catch it? No wonder they only have one customer.)

Grover’s Number Special would be a good game for those who hate losing, because I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m pretty sure it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s impossible to lose?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ The worst that can happen is Grover gently reminding you what ingredient you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re supposed to be collecting. But then again, the repetition gets old pretty quickly, so I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve never played for more than about three rounds in a row?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ Maybe it gets tougher later. Maybe in the later rounds, Grover starts hurling obscene insults at you and your mother if you collect the wrong foods. Maybe.

So if you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re a Muppet fan and you own an iPhone or an iPod touch, there?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s really no reason not to buy either of these apps. And there are more on the way! Future Muppet apps have been announced — Pepe’s Love Meter”, “Gonzo Grams”, and “Statler & Waldorf’s Theater App” ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú as well as Sesame apps ?¢‚Ǩ?ìElmo?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Monster Maker?¢‚Ǩ¬ù and ?¢‚Ǩ?ì123 Sesame.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù I don’t know about you, but I look forward to the day when my iPod is so full of Muppet games that I run out of space for music. That’s going to be so annoying… I can’t wait!

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Click to talk about Muppet apps and Sesame apps on the Tough Pigs forum, or if you just want to ask “What the heck is an app?”

by Ryan Roe – ToughPigsRyan@yahoo.com

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