Game Review by Debbie Winkler
# of Players: 1
Target Age Group: 8 and up
Average Game Play: 2 – 8 hours
Type of Game: Time Management
My Rating: 2/5 stars
Brooke’s grandmother has finally decided to retire and wants Brooke to take over the day-to-day operations on their small, family-owned farm. Brooke is determined to apply her college knowledge to turn the farm into a huge success! Plant trees, harvest fruit, sell the fruit at the market or build factories and turn the fruit into more valuable juice! Roll up your sleeves, dig in and get ready to build a fruit-based empire!
This is a rather traditional time-management game in that it is food-based and gives you specific goals that you need to reach to pass each level. Each game level will have a specific number of empty plots on the game board. Click on a plot and then decide what you are going to build there. You can build an orchard, a factory or a water reservoir. The first several levels will have you dealing with orchards and then they introduce factories, with reservoirs coming up last. There are multiple types of fruit and so multiple types of juices. Your goals will be a combination of fruit orchards planted, fruit harvested, fruit in storage, juice made, juice made in specific factories and water goals. The tricky part is that fruit will automatically be sold after the clock winds down, which makes it difficult to have all of the fruit on hand that you need to make the juice and/or to have all of the fruit on hand when you need a specific amount in storage (fruit harvested, but not sold). You are also limited by how many workers you have, technicians you have and materials you have available to continue building. Fortunately, you can purchase more materials and hire additional employees if you can come up with the cash. Carefully evaluate your goals at the beginning of the level and then set up a plan to execute it. You have a limited number of plots available and a small amount of cash at the beginning of each level so you will have to make your choices carefully or you will have to restart it.
This game sounded like much more fun than it actually was. I was expecting a fast-paced, fun-filled time management game, but this one was a bit more ho-hum. Fruit takes time to grow and harvest so you will find yourself constantly watching the clock on the upper middle section of the screen to see when more fruit is coming in. The factories produce juice extremely slowly so you will also be waiting for that bar to fill. Some of the beginning levels have a gold-level time of 7 minutes so that should give you an idea of how much time you need to fulfill all of the goals. There is also very little to click on the game board so you just kind of keep watching for the timers to fill and then you do a simple, single click and done, back to waiting. You will click on the plots to set up your initial game layout and then you will just maintain them. If bugs infest your orchard, you will need to click on the plot and send a technician out to take care of it. If a factory is out of fruit, you will need to drag fruit from your storage on the lower right hand corner of the screen to the factory for it to start up again. If you want to sell your fruit immediately without waiting for the timer to run down, you can click on the $ sign above the fruit. The only other clicks you make are on the lower left hand corner, which is where you can hire additional workers or buy more materials.
The graphics are a bit clunky and the storyline is tepid at best. I also had a difficult time with the tutorials, or, should I say, the lack thereof. I am not sure if they tested this game on anyone who did not actually design and develop the game, but there are a lot of instructions that are flat-out missing. One of the most important ones is that you can bulldoze any of your sites to build something else. This is very important on some levels as you never have enough plots to plant and build everything you need. For example, one level has you making 100 bottles of juice under three different juice brands (you customize your fruit juice in each factory including name, color of container, type of container, and logo – there is only one brand allowed per building so you have to tear down a factory to build a different brand), have 30 baskets of grapes in inventory and have one plot contain an apricot orchard. With only 7 plots on the screen, you cannot deal with all of these goals at the same time. If you build 3 factories, you have 4 plots left. If you hit the timing just right, you can harvest 2 plots of grapes twice before the timer runs out and your bushels are sold, leaving you with barely enough in storage before the bushels are taken to market. Use one of your last 2 plots to plant apricots and that leaves you with 1 plot to plant apples. You only harvest 10 bushels of apples per harvest time and it is going to take you forever to make 300 bottles of juice harvesting 10 apples at a time. What you need to do is build 1 factory and plant 4 apple orchards. Save up your money to hire new employees (you need 5 to build a factory, 4 to run a factory and make juice, 2 to build a new orchard, etc.) and buy more materials (you need 3,000 to build a factory, 500 to build an orchard, 25 to get rid of pests, etc.). When you have finished making 100 bottles in your first factory, you have enough money to purchase enough goods and hire workers to tear down your first factory and build two more. Supply as many apples as you can as quickly as you can and bust through your last 200 bottles of juice. Then you can tear down the factories or the apple orchards, plant the grapes and the apricots and voila, you are done. The way you tear something down is simply click on the plot, click on the miniscule bulldozer icon and then click on okay to send two workers to raze it to the ground. Bottom line is, the game is not as intuitive as the game builders think and you have to spend some time on your own figuring out how everything works and what you need to do.
This may be a good time-management game for beginners in that it is slow-paced, but I am not certain that it is so great for them in terms of the lack of training. I say that it is always better to have a thorough, over-the-top tutorial going into a game than something short and sketchy. The other frustration with the tutorial is that granny stays up the screen for a long time – way longer than most people will need to read the sentence! If you are looking for a game that is slow-paced and lets you kind of move along without rushing, maybe this is a good game for you to look into. I found it very easy to earn the gold level on the portion of the game that I played, I got silver on some levels, but then the passing level is really, really long on the timing. I don’t think anyone would have a difficult time playing this game, but I play a lot of time-management games so perhaps I am biased. Definitely play the free trial before you purchase this game based on the fun-sounding description.
This game is appropriate for viewers of all ages. There is quite a bit of reading to following the instructions on the tutorial, read hints from workers and to read the goals themselves to pass one level and move on to the next. Recommended for ages 8 and up.