Some things have universal appeal. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like the taste of pizza, for example. Likewise, it’s pretty easy to make someone laugh at a cartoon cat that mimics, in a ridiculous voice, what you say. This is probably the reason why Tom the talking cat has floated in Top 100 free apps list on the iTunes App Store for so long.
This app is best used with the iPhone 4, but the basics of the game are simple: it’s basically to entertain you and your friends. Tom is a lanky, goofy anthropomorphic talking cat who stands in the center of the screen, waiting for your input. If you talk to Tom, he will repeat what you say in a funny voice. You can pat his head and he will purr like a real cat, or you can touch him to make him nervous, again, like a real cat. Grab Tom’s tail to tease him, or give him a glass of milk and he’ll happily drink it. You get the idea.
The controls of the Talking Tom Cat app are simple. There are a few buttons on the periphery of the screen, and these will help you adjust settings, but most of the time it’s just you and the cat. This type of game lends itself well to a touch screen device and really stands out like on the iPhone. Unlike the outdated digital pets of the past, you can actually touch Tom to interact with him. You pet it the same way you would pet a real animal, and it’s one of the things that makes this app such a delight.
In addition to all these cyber pet antics, Talking Tom Cat is also great at generating short video clips that you can share with your friends via YouTube, Facebook, or email. Since Tom will repeat what you say, it’s a great way to create fun birthday eCards or personalized messages. While Talking Tom Cat is a free download, some of the features must be unlocked via a one-time $0.99 in-app upgrade. It’s not too much to ask.
The only real downside to the app comes from its limited compatibility. 3D animation will render slowly on a first generation iPhone, which is to be expected. However, animations are a bit slow on the iPhone 3G compared to the iPhone 3GS. Any iPhone running iOS 4 instead of 3.xx will also be a bit slow, but by no means unusable. Finally, iPod Touch owners should make sure they have headphones that come with a built-in microphone, as the iTouch doesn’t come equipped with a hardware microphone like the iPhone does.
Talking Tom Cat is certainly a novelty for anyone, but older users will probably outgrow that novelty quickly. There are so many tricks up Tom’s sleeve. The children, however, will probably laugh at Tom for hours. Talking Tom Cat is very kid-friendly: it’s fun, non-violent, non-competitive, and of course enjoyable and affordable. If you need to keep your kids tame and distracted during long car rides, but want to avoid games that might cause arguments between your kids, you might consider adding Talking Tom Cat to your arsenal.