Farm Frenzy, from Alawar Games, weds an arcade title with a resource management sim for a game that's as much thought and planning as it is fast mouse clicking. Gameplay revolves around planting grass to feed animals, which in turn drop goods for you to use. These goods can either be sold for cash to improve your farm or turned into higher-value products to rake in even more gold. As you progress through the game's 45 stages you can buy more animals, get new buildings and upgrade existing structures, all while keeping a lookout for bears that drop from the sky!
The game begins with a few geese wandering a small patch of land. Click the ground to make grass grow, allowing the geese to eat and lay eggs. Click the eggs to put them in your storehouse where they can be sold for precious cash to run your farm. It's a simple loop of generating money to buy better/more things that will in turn create even more income. From time to time a bear will drop in and knock animals out of the farm. To cage the beast and protect your animals, click on it as fast as you can. When it's trapped, click again to send it to your storehouse, ready to be turned into profit.
Instead of hawking basic goods for a few pieces of gold, why not turn them into something more profitable? Build an egg solids plant to turn eggs into powdered eggs which are worth twice as much. But if you build a bakery you can turn the powdered eggs into baked goods that are worth even more. Balancing what you sell with what you upgrade is just part of the strategy, and later in the game the number of structures (and thus uses for each basic good) increases. Each stage's buildings are pre-determined, so you can't create things willy-nilly. This serves to streamline the experience to keep the game from getting too complex.
To complete a level of Farm Frenzy you must meet a set of goals such as collecting ten eggs or owning five animals. The goals get loftier and more numerous as you progress, but they always serve up just the right amount of challenge. Unlocking new levels often requires specific building upgrades that must be purchased beforehand. You may not be able to progress until you have a level two bakery, so stop by the shop and spend your hard-earned stars to keep the game moving along. Sometimes you'll have to replay previous levels to earn the cash.
Every risk has its reward, and every danger has its foil. Later in the game you'll be able to balance out some of these aspects with new purchases, such as buying a dog to keep bears at bay or a cat to help gather goods on the field. These help soften the action element of the game, as when you're trying to store items and create more expensive products a bear (or two) can make things a little too click-heavy.
Analysis: There is very little holding Farm Frenzy back from being a superb game, but it's not without a few minor flaws. The mix of arcade action with time management is good, but oftentimes it's a little too heavy on rapid clicking for my comfort. Things can get frantic with several bears roaming the farm, a full stock-house, and hard-earned goods flickering on the screen ready to vanish. If you manage your money well and buy smart upgrades this can be somewhat alleviated.
The pacing in Farm Frenzy also feels a bit stretched, almost as if the developers purposefully stalled gaining new buildings and upgrades just to fluff out the game. The beginning is especially slow moving and you probably won't own animals other than geese for the first hour of the game. Fortunately these minor quibbles far from ruin an otherwise fantastic, easily enjoyable game.
Gradual advancement, upgradeable structures, and a little action to keep things from getting too stale. Farm Frenzy pulls a number of disperse elements together to create a game that will keep you coming back for more.