Farm Frenzy is farm-licking good

Posted: July 12, 2009 in Time Management

Old MacDonald had a tough job running a farm. Managing farm animals, making sure enough basic crops were available to make money, and buying the right equipment are some of the things he had to deal with e-i-e-i-o. Farm Frenzy takes a lighthearted approach to the daily chores of a farmer delivering a worthwhile and fun experience that combines elements of resource management and some light real-time strategy. In a fundamental way, it’s a game of capitalism that would make Adam Smith proud.

The devs have done a terrifically effective job porting the popular PC game for the iPhone/iPod Touch platform and the game controls work remarkably well. The cartoon-like characters and animation should appeal to young and old with the original soundtrack that brings back memories of old school cartoons. I wouldn’t recommend this for young children because the game is complex and can be frantic. Don’t let that fool you…the game of farming is serious business, and it can mean the difference between a successful growing business or a Dustbowl experience.

If you enjoy resource and time management games, then you’ll definitely be entertained as you navigate through 45 challenging and time-sensitive levels. At the heart of the game are 5 types of animals that require managing and nurturing—ducks, cows, sheep, dogs and cats—as well as nine products to sell and six buildings to purchase Each level has specific objectives from something as simple as collecting a certain number of items to strategically building structures. And if you’re fast enough, you can earn bonuses that can be used to buy even more goods.

The California Egg Council may want to consider using Farm Frenzy in its public service announcements because the foundation of each level is based on the egg. We’ll leave the fact that it’s duck eggs out of the picture…details, details. Each level has a gold and silver bonus earned based on meeting time constraints. It takes a bit of strategy and luck to earn gold in each level, but the medal system adds significantly to the replay value. One of things that should appeal to a broad audience is that winning a medal isn’t necessary to move to the next level as long as objectives are met. While medals will help increase capacity and buy structures faster, the game is designed so that you can move along at your own pace and actually have some fun.

What would keep you from earning bonuses? One word—bears. Apparently on this farm, bears are constantly attacking and kicking animals off the farm. The consequence is lowered production, increased money to buy additional animals, and delayed sales. Nothing irritates me more than losing an expensive cow. But, bears can be captured, caged and sold for profit. I’m sure no animals were actually harmed in the development of this game.

As the game progresses, the production processes become more elaborate. For example, to produce baked goods, eggs are first needed to create egg solids which can then be used to use bake to heart’s delight. The process while simple is much more involved. In order to feed egg-producing ducks, you’ll need water to grow grass, collect and sell eggs, sell them to buy more ducks, build an egg solids plant, build a bakery, and deal with the bears. See what I mean, and this is simple scenario.

Everything in the game has a price. To grow grass—and I mean the kind used for animal feed—you need water which will cost you. Building and upgrading structures will cost you as well, but they will only get you so far. You’ll also need to consider increasing storage capacity, building better wells and buying faster transportation.

To further add to the replay value, Farm Frenzy has an achievement system consisting of 25 milestones. These include catching 100 bears, upgrading all buildings, collecting 500 goods, and earning a gold medal on all levels.

A level map is included to track progress and in many cases, you have the option of choosing different paths. It’s also here where you can visit the store to purchase items and based on which level you choose, the level map will show exactly what must be purchased. The gameplay is rather interesting especially when you’ve set things in motion. Along the top of the screen is a selection of farm animals available for purchase, level objectives to be met, and a timer. At the bottom the screen is the money counter as well as a gauge that shows your truck as it travels to and from the store. A good strategy is to not wait until the storehouse is completely full before selling. It takes time for your truck to venture to and fro, and storage tends to fill up pretty quickly.

In terms of the bear, tapping on it will cage and capture it and send it to the storehouse if room is available. If not, the bear can escape and come back to haunt your farm in more than your nightmares. Each farm animal serves a different function—ducks produce eggs, sheep provide wool, and cows milk so you get the picture. Dogs can be used to scare off bears, while cats are useful for gathering items. I find buying more animals than you need is a good approach because you earn money faster, and also use a strategic eye in deciding which items to sell first.

While the game is intuitive, the instructions can be lacking. If you haven’t experienced Farm Frenzy, and I mean the game, then certain activities aren’t obvious. As I said, the game can be intense, but it’s extremely enjoyable for those who enjoy management-type games.

Farm Frenzy has an addictive quality to it, and the game offers a good balance in ramping up difficulty. The functionality of the PC game is fully incorporated onto the iPhone/iPod Touch platform, and is reasonably full featured. The game delivers farm-fresh play with a ton of replayability all with an expanded expiration date.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (intuitive interface and entertaining gameplay make this a must for resource management geeks; frantic yet lighthearted gameplay delivers on all levels)


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