Playing God on your iPhone

Pocket God is an open-ended, relatively crude (in more ways than one) simulation game in which you rule over a small tribe of extremely durable and cartoonishly primitive islanders.

Pocket God is an open-ended, relatively crude (in more ways than one) simulation game in which you rule over a small tribe of extremely durable and cartoonishly primitive islanders. If you're new to the game, the otherwise intuitive interface can be a little overwhelming at first--because with each free update, Pocket God adds some new feature to the game world, all accessed through touch interaction with the island's inhabitants and the game's dense, icon-based drop-down menus. Actions range from extremely simple ("poking" an islander and watching him react, or shaking your device to create an "earthquake") to more complex (dropping a Tyrannosaur egg until it hatches, watching the baby cry for its mother, then arming islanders with a spear to defend themselves against the angry mother), and everywhere in between (tapping in time to the music to watch the islanders dance, or poking a seagull to target islanders with its messy droppings). An achievement system tracks your accomplishments--for example, how many successive times you can bounce a coconut off your islanders' heads--and inspires repeat play.

Users will exhaust all the possibilities for interaction relatively quickly (especially if you choose to be a "benevolent" god), but so far, this app has a good track record of providing frequent updates with new options for play. The most recent update--"Ooga Jump"--is an excellent example of the kind of "episode" that will surely expand Pocket God's loyal following, by adding a full minigame (complete with a guest appearance) based on the popular game Doodle Jump.

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