Don’t you hate it when your farming operation is running smoothly–butter is churning, chickens are laying eggs, sheep are producing wool–and suddenly three bears drop from the sky, claws swinging, and swipe your livestock to oblivion? We can’t stand it when that happens.
It’s a relief that in Farm Frenzy you can conjure cages around the bears just by tapping on them. Then, of course, you’ll want to load the gnashing beasts into your cart, haul them to town, and sell them for a hundred bucks apiece.
That sounds like kooky fun, and for a while it is. The game, a port of a PC farm simulation, is set up as a series of missions. For instance, you might have to accrue 30 eggs and 10 cupcakes before advancing to the next level. If you do it in a set amount of time, you’re awarded a gold or silver medal. If you’re too slow for a medal, no worries–the next level still becomes unlocked.
What, no emus?
At the start of each mission, your farm looks pretty drab: You have a dull, fixed-perspective view of a dirt field. There’s also a well, a building or two, and a blue sky, but that’s it. After a few identical-looking missions, we wished the developers had added some weather effects or levels set in different sections of the farm, like the chicken coop or horse stable. But no dice.
The lack of creativity in the graphics is contagious, and it bleeds into the gameplay as well. For example, when cows are introduced, they drop their cartons of milk exactly how the the chickens drop their eggs, and you scoop them up the same way. It’s the same idea, just with a different skin.
The buildings are carbon copies, too. The spinnery takes a clump of sheep wool and turns it into spun wool, which can be sold for a larger sum. The bakery turns egg products into cupcakes, which can be sold for a larger sum. The butter churn turns milk into butter, which… you get the idea.
I feel like chicken tonight!
Tapping the touchscreen controls the entire game. You tap the eggs to pick them up, tap the ground to plant the grass, and tap the cart to go to town. But because most of the sprites are tiny, you’ll often plant grass or upgrade a building by accident, which can leech away money you were saving for something else.
Enemy-wise, you can rest assured that your farm is safe from the threat of boll weevils or drought: The only baddies in the game are the bears that fall from the sky. And if the clock runs past the point where you’d be awarded a medal, no more bears appear and all challenge is removed from the game.
Farm Frenzy isn’t all bad. There’s something strangely appealing about fighting the clock to complete the missions. And because the gameplay is so basic, kids will be able to pick it up quickly. But for adults, be warned that you’ll be yawning at the repetitive gameplay just as your farmer’s tan starts to develop.