iPad Game Review: Terrafarmers HD for iPad Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Terrafarmers HD is a time management game in the vein of Alaware's Farm Frenzy franchise; but in space. In it, you will terraform planets by planting the seeds of life, and managing an increasingly complex economy to achieve increasingly elaborate game goals within a specified amount of time.
If you're looking for an open-ended building/farming sim, this isn't it. The game's 60+ levels are presented in a completely linear progression, and are far more puzzles to be solved than anything else. This is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you aren't expecting something more along the lines of a sandbox game to explore or a software toy to play with.
Once you begin planting, alien life will begin to crop up. Once you learn how to use one of the available machines to evolve this alien life, you will be off and running. Each life form produces a different product, which must be processed in a timely fashion and monetized. Time is your enemy here so be prepared for some fast and furious tapping as you try to meet your pre-determined deadline.
Early in the game you will encounter a human baby stranded in space. Your ultimate goal is to get the baby back to earth, blah, blah, blah. It ends up being a fairly standard video game device to give you an over-arching goal, and a reason to press forward. Shortly after encountering the baby, you will, unfortunately, also encounter pirates, which you must repeatedly defeat in a mind-blistering mini-arcade game of cannon-firing. Frankly, I found this to be extremely tedious (as did my 9-year old son, who ended up walking away from the game forever) and an unnecessary game element. I can understand the developer’s desire to differentiate this game from their other farming games, but this was not the way to do it. The mechanics of the main game are solid, however, so if time management games are your thing, you’re going to feel right at home as long as you don’t mind the pirates.
Terrafarmers HD supports both Openfeint and Game Center Achievements.
The 2D graphics of Terrafarmers HD are beautifully drawn and smoothly animated. In fact, the desire to see new variations in alien life was a big reason I kept playing. There is something satisfying about watching each world transform from barren alien world to lush garden, and the increasingly complex machinery within each level really added nicely to the overall atmosphere.
The sound effects in Terrafarmers are nicely done, as is the music. You’re not likely to find yourself turning off either as you play because they do a good job of enhancing gameplay without being intrusive.
If you’re a Farm Frenzy Fan, fear not; Terrafarmers is more of the same in a brand new setting with a solid graphic overhaul. If you’re new to the genre, this game will bring you up to speed at a reasonable pace, and is a great place to start. I found the pirates to be tiresome, although your mileage may vary.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Well-done 2D graphics, with an emphasis on “cute.” Sound: - 5 - Enjoyable and understated sound effects, coupled with a relaxing, space-age soundtrack. Controls: - 5 - The touch interface is perfectly suited to this type of game, and Alaware did a great job of implementing it. Gameplay: - 3 - The core game, although not original, is solid and fun. However, the inclusion of the pirates may be frustrating to some, as it was to me.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Expect to replay levels to get maximum score. Efficiency is the key to scoring well, and level familiarity is the key to efficiency.