Farm Frenzy 3: American Pie
Well, you've traveled 'round the world, saving farms in some... unusual places. Now it's time to return home and help dear old Granny rescue her farm from foreclosure. Yes, it's time to play Farm Frenzy 3: American Pie! A frantic time management game brought to you by Alawar Games and Melesta, Farm Frenzy 3: American Pie continues the tradition of "side games" to the main Farm Frenzy line, like Farm Frenzy: Pizza Party. This time around, though, there's not so much pizza. In fact, there's something better: robots!
Back from her world tour in Farm Frenzy 3 and just in time to help dear old Granny, you are once again in control of the series' eponymous heroine. Grandma's adjustable rate mortgage keeps going up, and the bank is going to foreclose unless you can get the farm making a profit. This is not, after all, like real life. In real life, the mortgage rate would be going up even faster (thanks, economy!). Just kidding. Maybe.
At any rate, you begin with a patch of ground, a few farm animals, and a task. The task may be to produce a certain number of goods (eggs, wool, milk) or manufactured goods (dried eggs, cookies, cakes, yarn, clothing, etc.). You have a limited amount of money, time, and water. Water the ground to produce grass to feed your animals and wait for them to do their thing. However, even water costs money these days, so use it well, and remember to sell excess goods for cash to get more water, more animals, or upgrade your manufacturing facilities. As the game goes on the manufactured goods become more complex, requiring several different raw or other manufactured goods, or goods shipped in by handy-dandy helicopter. All of this should be familiar to anyone who has played any of the Farm Frenzy games.
You start with something simple: turkeys. Turkeys produce eggs which you can sell at market. Or, you can turn the eggs into dried eggs, which take up less space and fetch a higher price at the market. Eventually you can turn the dried eggs into cookies, and the cookies (with other ingredients) into cakes which sell for an even higher price. Then other farm animals are slowly added to the mix, such as sheep, which produce wool (and eventually yarn, material, and clothing) and cows which produce milk (which sells for a really high price at the market).
You can also purchase helper animals, like dogs which chase off the bears who menace your farm, and cats which are smart enough to pick up the goods and take them to the storage shed. If you can't afford the helper animals, be prepared to cage and sell off the bears yourself before they can knock your poor defenseless animals off the screen. Finally, you'll reach a stage where you can purchase robots to farm for you. Mind you, the robots are wildly expensive, and require ore and fuel to run, but it's still pretty cool to be farming with robots.
Each scenario is timed, and the faster you work, the more points you nab and the better medal you'll be rewarded with. Points are used in the shop for upgrades to buildings and equipment, and believe me, you'll want as many as you can gather. You can always work back and forth on the branching overworld map, replaying older levels for points or choosing different stages if one is just too hard. Some areas cannot be attempted until certain upgrades are achieved, so backtracking may be wise.
Analysis: Like Pizza Party, Farm Frenzy 3: American Pie is almost "Farm Frenzy Light" in many ways. There's less complexity, and of course no foreign travel or exotic animals to be found. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the basic dynamic is still fantastic casual gameplay. In fact, American Pie manages to lose the numerous and complex recipe combinations that Pizza Party required, and that probably produced more than one migraine in the process. The combos here are simpler and there are fewer of them, leaving the player to concentrate on the basics with a wicked time limit in place.
The art is, well, it looks like Farm Frenzy, nothing much has changed from the first of the series. The animals are cute, cartoony, and fluidly animated as they wander around and eat the grass you so carefully grew. The truck still runs back and forth between the farm and town, and goods brought in by helicopter still parachute out of the sky. And, of course, the nasty bears still drop out of the wild blue yonder to wreak havoc at the worst possible time. You can cage them and sell them as usual, and when you reach a certain stage of the game you can even dress them up to bring more money (and humiliate them, one presumes).
Some of the levels are wicked difficult, which may cause a lot of head banging and throwing of objects within easy reach. The robots are cool, but it feels like it takes forever to get to the stage where you can use them, which is a shame. And the upper levels require so much fast clicking that you may be looking at carpal tunnel syndrome, or at least hand seizures if you play too long.
If you like the Farm Frenzy games, you've already downloaded and installed American Pie, which is wise! The stripped-down style takes nothing away from the basic gameplay, and what's left is very addicting and long-lasting. Especially if you go back and try to gold medal all the rounds, or earn all the side trophies, you are looking at days of gameplay with a high replay value. Of course, it's still fun to humiliate the bears. And hey, there are robots!