Pocket Warwick review

PocketWarwick is the latest brainchild of popular TV and film star Warwick Davis (read our exclusive interview with Warwick), who has worked in everything from Hollywood blockbusters Star Wars to Harry Potter to TV comedies Extras and Life’s Too short in his illustrious career.

It is in the vein of Life’s too Short/Extras that PocketWarwick is set – Warwick is a middle-aged Z-list celebrity who wants to become famous.  To achieve this, players will need to get up close and personal with Warwick (who filmed over 80 different facial expressions for the game), seeing to his needs, dealing with his moods and choosing which roles he needs to take on in order to climb to the top of the celebrity ladder.

I spent a week testing PocketWarwick and getting immersed into his device-sized world, so check out what we got up to:

Day One

I’ve just started playing so everything is still happy and shiny and new. Warwick welcomes me to the game, but seems to have a short attention span, so I get him to watch some TV and play on the computer while I figure out what all the controls do.

PocketWarwick functions just like a Tamagotchi gaming device. Although Warwick is a fully-grown man, he takes his lead from you and you need to ensure that all his levels (hunger, hygiene, exercise, IQ and entertainment) are at least half-way full so that he fulfills the requirements for the jobs that come in on his smartphone from his manager.

Warwick exercising, while in disguise

Although you start with some coins and a bit of gold (gold coins are the in-app currency that you can purchase using real money), this won’t last long, so Warwick needs to work in order to eat, as well as to invest in different outfits, costume bits and pieces so that he can secure the big roles.

I’ve never been fond of in-app purchases, so I’m going to attempt to play the whole game by earning money the normal way. You can earn a couple of gold coins from a really good job if you’re lucky, so I’m going to save up the gold for an emergency situation.

I send Warwick off for a few bit part roles, nothing very big. One thing I like very much is the wry humour that runs through the game. The roles offered to Warwick are either spins on famous movies, such as “The Half Green Mile”, about a dwarf imprisoned for something he didn’t do, who has a special gift (a nod to Michael Clarke Duncan), actual bit parts suitable for a Small Person, or crazy, bizarre roles, for example “You have been asked to take over as host of a popular pets taxidermy TV show”.

“The Lambshank Redemption”, one of the many hilarious twists on popular films

Day Two

Today Warwick’s in a bit of a mood with me, because I’m having fun swinging the iPhone around so that he falls down to the bottom of the set or whacks the glass screen. The app is really very responsive to touch. You can tickle Warwick or punch him if you so fancy, and he reacts charmingly. I must admit I get a just a little bit dazzled when he winks at me.

I would probably say that the app is too responsive - if you tilt the screen the wrong way, Warwick falls down and completely forgets what you've just asked him to do. This can be very annoying if you’re rushing to prepare for an audition within the time limit and you're on the go like me - I play iPhone games on the tube and often have to change platforms quickly.

Speaking of the time limit, my major criticism is that if you read a job message on the smartphone and the countdown starts, clicking out of the game onto the main iPhone menu doesn't pause the game, as it does with other apps.

So you either have to give up on the audition or stop what you're doing to complete the task, not very practical for a mobile game.

Warwick reading a film script, with 3 minutes to go on the countdown

Days 3 - 4

Was so busy I forgot to play - hope Warwick's still alive!

Day 5

I turn on the game full of dread, only to discover that Warwick is still alive, but utterly, completely miserable. Somehow I found this to be cute when I played with Tamogotchi's as a child, but with Warwick, I just feel guilty.

"I'm sorry, Warwick, would you like something to eat?" I ask him.

He pouts at me.

I set about making things right. I end up having to spend all the money we’ve got on food to get his hunger level up, so by the time he's ready to go, we've had to rethink our strategy.

We’ve decided to start taking on every single job we can find, so long as it pays money, since Warwick gets hungry easily.

The game advises that you be careful which jobs you take on - charity gigs are good for self-promotion, but some roles will keep Warwick where he is and won't help him to progress to become taken more seriously.

For a while, we ignore that advice and go for any role that pays, even if it's something vaguely demeaning, like being the stunt double of a dog. 

Day 6

We’re still working very hard on auditions today. The requirements can be a bit tricky – for example,  if Warwick’s hygiene is “good”, not “very good”, we can lose out on the part. Warwick always gets into a huff when this happens.

“My career’s going down the toilet,” he moans at me, before storming off to surf the Internet.

There are lots of neat objects and furniture you can buy to decorate Warwick’s apartment – Professor Flitwick’s wand stand and even an iMac, clearly his computer of choice.

You can give Warwick the dream home he always wanted – flatscreen TV, fancy iMac? No problem.

At Warwick’s request, I’ve redecorated his study with new wallpaper and a funky new chair, but now I’m wishing I hadn’t.

Every so often, big budget movie roles come up that pay 70 coins and 100 experience points. The problem with this is that the big roles also require you to have purchased an expensive clothing item, and as we’re not investing real-world money into this, we haven’t got enough coins to spend.

So we have to ignore these auditions (by waiting for the countdown clock on the smartphone to finish), as other ones will soon come up. Ignoring an audition is better than rejecting it – if you reject it, you never get offered it again.

The animation and transitions on this game are very smooth. Warwick is portrayed as being on a set, and when you want to go to another room, the set changes without Warwick having to move.

I’m getting a bit worried about Warwick though – all he does is work all the time or hang out at home. He doesn’t visit his friends (unless you include talk show hosts and charity fundraisers) and he doesn’t have a girl. I think it would be good to have an add-on where we get to see Warwick Davis take a girl out on a date, or at least to see how he does at an audition.

Warwick, dressed to the nines for a big budget film role

Day 7

Hurrah, we’re starting to secure the big roles and have made it halfway! We reckon we must be an M-list celebrity now.

Here are some handy tips to help you on your own journey with Warwick:

1) Always exercise before you shower

2) Triple check the audition instructions. Even if you think you have it down, check again.

3) If possible, get all Warwick’s levels up before clicking on the phone to see what the job is about.

4) Double-check how much all the items are before you spend.

5) After you start doing better, only do small bit roles if you are really broke - they don't help your reputation.

6) Earn popularity points, which contribute to his total popularity rating at the bottom of the screen by sharing the PocketWarwick app on social networks and by email. This is part of the “self-promotion” that helps Warwick to climb the social ladder.

7) If you’re on a tight budget, don’t decorate Warwick’s apartment.

8) If you find that some of the items in the Shop aren’t displaying so you physically cannot complete the task, the game’s developers advise that you exit the app, shut it down from running in the background of your iPhone (double click home button to show all running apps, hold finger on PW and click the ‘-’ button to stop process from running) and relaunch the App in an area with data connection (3G or WIFI). While the game is launching, it will retrieve new game data and ask you to download new shop items.

OUR VERDICT

While it is possible to complete the game without spending real currency, there are several costumes that are not available for purchase unless you use in-app gold, which means waiting around for more auditions to appear in real-time, which isn’t very useful for someone on the go who only has a few minutes to spare on an iPhone game app. Overall though, PocketWarwick is a thoroughly enjoyable, very addictive game. For an iPhone game, the concept is a novel one, particularly as it features a recognisable, living character. Warwick Davis apparently wanted a new platform to act on – well, we’re sure this app will see even better roles coming his way!