How many times have we seen something move from the silver screen to the small screen? Movies that get turned into TV shows rarely work well. This same move for Tinseltown Dreams: The 50s from PC screen to iPhone/iPod Touch is fraught with the same perils, and sadly, doesn’t fare too well.
Essentially the exact same game as its big-screen brother, Tinseltown Dreams: The 50s has you playing the role of a new production assistant out to save a failing studio’s future. By amassing money through match-three gameplay, you hire actors, production people and build sets. After five “weeks” (levels) your film is ready and judged. There are a number of genres to create, including romance, sci-fi and musical.
Playing the match-three sections is, to be honest, very ho-hum. Clear a set number of gold squares to beat a level by making matches over it, and if you clear the level before the timer runs out, you’ll get bonus money. You earn a dollar for each regular pieces matched, and a hundred dollars per gold square cleared. If you can make continuous matches (creating a combo) a “craze meter” as the top begins to zap a popcorn maker. Once the popcorn maker is full, click the “GO” button, and popcorn rains down on the playfield, and each tap of a kernel nets you extra cash.
The issues here aren’t about the graphics. They are bright, colorful and easy on the eyes. Every prop is detailed and well-drawn. The actors and characters all have a nice, distinct look that is easy to see on the iPhone’s smaller screen.
The problem for the gameplay is one of scale. On a PC, it’s really easy to click little tiles and icons. With a finger – particularly if you have large hands as I do – it’s very hard to be precise about tapping and flicking icons to swap them.
This issue becomes even more frustrating during the set construction phase. Like before, you can place actors and production people anywhere, and add as many elements like props as you like. You can scale them large or small, or flip them around by double-tapping them. You don’t need to clutter the shot, of course, and if you have too many items, you can store them in the studio chest for later use. However, when you select an item to use it, it appears in the middle of the screen, layered one on top of the other. Some of the props are so tiny that it becomes a chore to select them, particularly if they are close to another object. I tried to select a vase, only to start moving the gazebo. Eventually, I stopped caring how the shot looked because it became too much of a pain to select what I wanted. A simple pinch-to-zoom would have been most helpful.
There are other issues too. The music, though identical to the PC game, seems of lower-quality here, and grating on the ears. The game offers you the ability to play your own music, but will only play one song, then the music is silent. The game’s music won’t return unless you go to the options screen and move the music volume slider back up.
Another aspect of the game has been scaled down, the number of levels. There is literally half the number of levels from its download counterpart. Unless they were taking up a lot of memory, this particular cut doesn’t make sense.
Tinseltown Dreams: The 50s was a fun match-three title on the PC. On the iPhone/iPod Touch, Tinseltown Dreams: The 50s is more of a chore to play. By all means, check out the PC version. But some adaptations are just not meant to be.