As though our day-to-day lives weren’t busy enough, we often busy ourselves playing simulations in which we rush about solving virtual problems, micromanaging the working lives of the game’s protagonists. Ranch Rush is the latest in a long series of such games to hit the iPhone and iPod Touch, albeit a port of an existing Mac/PC game.
Look complicated? It is.
You play as Sara in her quest to save Jim’s nursery from going under in hard economic times. As such, you’re given 8 weeks to help the business turn a profit. As the weeks pass by, the levels become increasingly complex, with you helping Sara harvest clover, tomatoes, corn, milk, honey, wool, eggs, and so forth, and even conjuring up specialties like ketchup, jam, and bread.
What sets it apart from other time management games, even other other farming ones, is its added level of strategy. Each day you are given an order to fill (except on Saturdays, which are bonus levels) and a time frame in which to complete it. The faster you move, the more money you’ll earn. Time is certainly of the essence , however, as you’ll have to frequently reorganize your farm so you can finish the tasks on time. Planting, watering, and moving plots, animals, and equipment around the farm are all essential to survival, and the state of your farm picks up each day right where you left it the previous day, forcing you to manage things carefully and plan ahead.
With 80 levels in all and a decent achievement system (based on trophies), there’s plenty to do, and the challenge really ramps up after the first few weeks. Whether this amount of complexity appeals to you will be determined by your love (or lack thereof) for the genre.
That’s a healthy piggy bank!
It certainly helps that this is a fantastic looking game. Bright colors, crisp textures, and more than competent animation create a vibrant atmosphere for your daily farm outings. There are tons of unique customers in the game, as well, which bring extra life to each challenge. The voice work, when present, is also excellent, and the music is delightfully simplistic, reminiscent of what you might expect should the farming life have its own soundtrack.
Ranch Rush is selling for a mere 99 cents through August 7 but will then see a price hike. Even with such an increase, however, this is an easy recommendation. Will it blow your mind and make all your non-iPhone-owning friends jealous? Not likely. It’s not a perfect game, with some menu and scrolling control issues that can frustrate given your constant need to beat the clock. Still, it’s a highly polished embellishment on a weary genre that needed an organic energy boost.