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Rock and roll! The Muppets' Animal stars in iPhone game

Pit your drum skills against everybody's favorite manic Muppet. The game combines elements of Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and even the old classic Simon.

Along with Beeker and Fozzie Bear, Animal ranks among my favorite Muppets characters. So it's great not only to see him starring in his own iPhone game, but to report that the game's a blast.

At first blush, The Muppets Animal Drummer from Disney looks like something out of Rock Band: you've got five drums that light up and change colors (and occasionally catch fire); combo bonuses and power-ups that appear as you progress; and Animal himself (itself?) banging away center-stage.

A little bit Rock Band, a little bit Simon, The Muppets Animal Drummer is all fun. Disney

However, the gameplay's a bit different: Animal bangs out a series of beats using different parts of the drum set and different intervals. Your job is to play back the lick (by tapping the drums) using the exact same phrasing.

It starts off pretty easy, but quickly gets challenging (especially for rhythm-deprived individuals like myself). Even so, I find this a lot more fun than, say, Tap Tap Revenge or Rock Band, both of which reach a level of "impossible" that makes me lose all interest.

Here, you can improve your performance with practice--no superhuman levels of dexterity required.

There's also a Free Play mode that lets you drum along with any of the game's handful of songs (some of which must be unlocked by doing well in Classic mode) or songs in your iPod library. Younger kids in particular will have lots of fun with this, as it's really just noise on top of noise.

Whatever mode you choose, you'll enjoy snippets of Animal's voice along the way--icing on the cake.

And sweet cake it is. Animal Drummer may have built-in kid appeal (assuming kids these days even know who the Muppets are), but it's also plenty of fun for older players who enjoy music- and rhythm-centric games. At $1.99, I can highly recommend it.