'Hunger Games' + Social Gaming = Odd Fit?

A popular story about a dystopian nation where residents are subjugated and selected children are forced to fight to the death hardly sounds like fodder for lighthearted social gaming. Can The Hunger Games Adventures balance the requisite social quests with its dire setting and harsh subject matter?

Developed by Funtactix, The Hunger Games Adventures puts you in Panem, the fictional, post-apocalyptic nation of North America from Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of novels (and a little indie movie you may have heard of). You play as yourself, as if you were a resident of District 12, instead of as any particular character from the books. But you’ll encounter many of the books’ characters along your journey, including heroine Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, Gale Hawthorne, and more.

I spent a little time with a beta of The Hunger Games Adventures last week and found it to be your standard “social adventure” game (you know, the ones you get a gazillion friend requests or invites from, every week) where you’re given small quests to complete, which earn you currency that you can then spend to complete further quests, as well as collect various virtual rewards. Its gameplay mechanics are no different than most of what’s on Facebook, but I will say that the setting drew me in more than other games in the same genre have. (But that could have as much to do with me being a huge fan of the books as anything else.) You get to visit all of the famous places from the book, including the Hob, the Seam, the bakery owned by Peeta’s parents, the Justice Building where the Reaping takes place annually, and tons more.

You start out in District 12 and the woods just outside it, where Katniss gets you started on your adventures. The first few missions are tutorials of how to build, buy, and trade various goods, and how you’ll use them. Where Adventures distinguishes itself might just be in its depth. Funtactix has huge plans for the game, including using it as a platform to launch exclusive and official new Hunger Games content, such as the first-ever canonized map of Panem. You also get to live out your own story, an experience customized to individual players, though you can also join up with Facebook friends and play through the game that way. New story developments will be rolled out to all players in scheduled “chapters.”

Perhaps most enticing of all, The Hunger Games Adventures lets you venture out far beyond District 12, to all twelve distinctly different Districts of Panem, along with the Capitol. Funtactix and Lionsgate are hoping that this social game will become a major platform for keeping interest in the films high during the long wait between them.

Personally, I was underwhelmed by the iOS game, The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire. Sure, it’s free and all, but it lacks anything resembling depth, sending you running through the woods outside District 12, shooting at various “muttation” attackers as you go. It’s basically a test of how quickly and accurately you can tap on moving objects. You don’t even control Katniss’ movements.

There are endless possibilities for games that could be built out of The Hunger Games franchise. How about The Hunger Games: Arena, a multiplayer FPS that pits you against 23 others in a long-term fight to the death inside the sprawling arena? Or a 3D adventure where you must find your way through the woods outside District 12 to… oops, almost gave away a spoiler for Mockingjay there. Or how about an RPG where you experience the events of the books while playing as Katniss?

Funtactix’ point-and-click social adventure game might not scratch all of those itches, but it’s a start, and it’s a lot better than nothing. The promise of exclusive, official content is enough to pique this fan’s interest. But then, I’m a pushover for anything related to Suzanne Collins’ gripping tale.

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Robin Parrish
@robinparrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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