Well, Garfield Kart: Furious Racing officially lands in the U.S. today, which means a review is in order. Not of that game, of course, but of Garfield GO – Paws, Inc.’s 2017 response to the similarly-named and certainly better-known creation by The Pokémon Company. Much like Pokémon Go, you play on a map, based on your actual location, tapping things to interact with them. Also like Pokémon Go, you can play in an AR-style mode where the objects you interact with are superimposed on camera footage of the real world around you, or you can disable this to play on static backgrounds. In AR mode, you have to rotate yourself around to find things and aim very carefully, it’s a frustrating experience just for the sake of seeing a Garf floating above your sad desk. I never enjoyed playing Pokémon Go this way either, personally.
Like so many Garf games, Garfield GO feels like a shell of a game with a half-hearted Garf theme slapped on. Even with my limited knowledge of Pokémon lore1, I knew that Pokémon Go made sense: you found cute monsters out in the wild and trapped them in tiny balls. While there’s a battle element to it and all, a core part of the Pokémon Go experience was just finding all of these different creatures and watching them evolve. The Garf imitation, on the other hand… involves you throwing food into Garf’s bowl. One of four types of food (lasagna, pizza, donut, cake); one of one type of Garf.
So if you’re not collecting different bizarro Garfs (which would have been 100% more rad in every way, tbh), what exactly is the point? Well, after you
catch feed a Garf, he disappears in a cloud of smoke before appearing next to a treasure chest, fidgeting and pointing at it as though it contains the directions for defusing a bomb that’s strapped to his chest. It does not, of course; it contains coins, hats, comics, and trinkets. Which I guess I have to dive into now.
First let’s backtrack to
Pokéballs food. Food is what you throw at Garf, and I already mentioned the whopping four varieties of food in the game. Donuts are unlimited, whereas the others are precious inventory items gained by spinning a wheel of food and playing minigames at the gym circus2. Foods that Garf likes more3 have an increased chance of spawning chests with better treasure in them. You can also bake a piece of food for free at any given time in your oven.
Coins are boring, they’re for buying stuff when you don’t want to find and/or wait for it. Coins can also be bought with real money, because of course they can. Real money can also be spent to increase your range on the map from 100 ft. to a whole mile, this costs $3 for an hour. Several of the hats in the game are also exclusively purchased with real money, meaning a completionist will spend $16 to acquire all of Garf’s hats. Anyway let’s talk about hats.
Hats are… hats… that Garf… wears. This is the only way you can customize Garf, and doing so has no effect aside from the obvious visual. There are hats with various countries’ flags on them, two colors of pirate hat, three fedoras if you want to make Garf look like three shades of douchebag, and a head-mounted Pooky, among others. Outside of this game, I don’t know of Garf having any particular affinity for hats, but in Garfield GO, hats are his JAM.
Trinkets! They’re inefficient coins. Things like dog collars, bowties, newspapers, baseballs. You trade them in predetermined sets for a handful of coins; for example two donut boxes, one fishing lure, and four empty pizza boxes nets you 82 coins.
Comics are the only thing that provide any sort of motivation to continue playing the game, they are the only meaningful ‘collection’ element. They come up fairly rarely, and you get a single panel at a time. They don’t seem to come in any particular order, so potentially collecting an entire three-panel strip will take some doing. I don’t think it’s a particularly worthwhile
catch ‘em all collection reward, but it’s the best thing this game has.
So, Garfield GO is effectively a game where you throw food for the chance to see Garf in a hat (you can actually see him in any of the hats from the hat screen, even hats you don’t own) or to read Garfield strips that are all readily available at GoComics or garfield.com. Apparently, at one point, you could potentially win real-world prizes, but those don’t exist anymore and I’m not going to research what they were. Pokémon Go is engaging, it draws you in to the world around you while also drawing you in to the world of Pokémon. Garfield GO doesn’t have the landmark-esque quality that Pokéstops do; its attachment to the GPS feels far more superficial. Nor does Garfield GO feel particularly attached to the Garfield universe; all one would take away from this game is that Garf is a hungry cat who dons hats, likes to visit the circus, and can vanish in a cloud of smoke. It’s absurd.
The game hasn’t been updated to support iPhone X-sized screens, and as mentioned, the ‘Puzzle pieces’ which would potentially lead to real-world prizes are no more. I doubt there’s any more content coming for this game, whatever that would entail. I wouldn’t be surprised if it dropped off of app stores within the next year or so. But if it sticks around, it doesn’t need to. Beyond brief curiosity, there’s really not much value in this game. It seems to exist simply because it can4. I guess check out Garfield Kart: Furious Racing instead, it can only be better than this.
- Prior to playing Pokémon Go, Pokémon Snap was the only game in the franchise that I had any experience with. But! I’m currently playing and enjoying Pokémon Shield quite a bit and will likely be checking out some of the older games. My experience with Shield confirms that Pokémon Go… makes a lot of sense. ↩︎
- According to the in-game help, these are actually Italian bistros? But they’re definitely big tops. I don’t know. ↩︎
- Assuming this game’s concept of Garf’s food preferences is canon (lol), he likes donuts the least, followed by pizza, followed by cake, and obviously likes lasagna the most. ↩︎
- And, I mean, to extract hat money out of children. ↩︎