Game Review by Debbie Winkler
# of Players: 1
Target Age Group: 8 and up
Average Game Play: 2 – 12 hours
Type of Game: Time Management
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Joy is thrilled to finally be living her dream! She just purchased a run down farm and is ready to turn it into a prosperous business. Till soil, hire farm workers, plant crops, water your plants, then harvest them to sell in your farm store. Continue to upgrade your farm, meet your goals and fulfill your dreams!
This game is the farming equivalent of the Farm Frenzy games. In Farm Frenzy, you are working with animals and animal products. In The Joy of Farming, you are working with plants and the products that can be made from them. Joy is the shopkeeper and sells the harvest directly to customers. You must hire farm workers to till the soil, plant crops, water crops and harvest crops. You must hire specialized workers to staff your factories and make items like carrot juice and ketchup. To further complicate matters, the game is spread out over multiple levels. Each level has a different layout, but the shop, factories and farms will usually be on different tiers. Purchase ropes and ladders so that your workers can travel in between the tiers and help your farm be successful. Some levels will start you out with farms and water, others will start you out with ropes or employees. It is up to you to identify what you need to accomplish your goals at the beginning of the level. You begin each level with a specific amount of money and there is usually not enough money to buy everything you want, just barely enough to get you going.
You will have a specific goal on each level that you much achieve. For example, you will need to sell 10 carrots, 3 carrot juice boxes, 2 tomatoes and 1 bottle of ketchup. Carrots can be grown on any farm and they are considered your basic, cheapest crop. They grow quickly and do not require any upgrades to plant or harvest. Tomatoes can only be grown on an upgraded farm. You need to click on the farm and spend coins to upgrade your farm to a level 2 farm to grow tomatoes. Tomatoes take longer to grow and are more expensive to plant, but they are worth more money when you sell them. The same thing goes for the production plants. Carrot juice is made the fastest and, while it is worth more than selling carrots singly, it takes a while to make it. Ketchup takes longer to make, but is worth quite a bit of money. It is important to try and make the produced goods as early as possible on the level so that you can get a good score. You can grow the plants or make your veggie goods any time throughout the level, but everything costs money to do so evaluate how much money you have and plan accordingly. Seeds cost money, water costs money and your factory workers charge you to make your products so be careful with how you spend your money early on in any level. If you run out of water, your workers will not grow additional crops and will just stand around waiting. If there are no vegetables for the factories to use to produce goods, the workers will stand around. This wastes time and drives down your score so try and keep a constant flow going through if possible.
To grow crops, click on a farm and then click on the plant that you want to plant there. If you have a level 1 farm, you will see one blank box underneath the farm that you can use to plant seeds in. If you select carrot seeds, the carrot icon will pop up in the box underneath the farm. You will need to wait for your farm worker to plant the carrots before you can select another crop to plant. Level 2 farms have two slots, and level 3 farms have three slots, etc. Your wells will hold three buckets of water and then you will need to purchase more to continue watering plants. After a crop is harvested, the worker will carry the crop to the storehouse. From there, you click on the sale button on the storehouse and can select which goods you want to stock in the farm store. Customers will automatically pop up to buy the goods that you have stocked, regardless of what you send to the store, so don’t worry about what you transfer first. I usually try and send down the goods that will bring in the most money so that I can keep a steady cash flow, but you have to balance what you have against your goals so that you can pass and move on to the next level. The most difficult part of the early levels is trying to balance everything. You must continue to click on the farm plots to keep planting carrots as it doesn’t take your worker very long to plant a carrot and water it. You must constantly click on your well and purchase water to make sure your plants will grow. The storehouse will fill really quickly if you have 2 or 3 farms harvesting at the same time as you only have 3 storage slots to begin with. Once these slots are full, workers will wander around with their hands full of veggies until one of the slots is cleared. The only way to clear a slot is to have the veggies produced in a factory or to send it to the store. The base-level factory only produces one veggie at a time and they take quite some time to push out products so keep them full if at all possible to achieve your goal. The basic-level store only allows you to stock 2 items at a time and Joy moves slower than molasses! The customer must come in to the level, find your store and request an item. Then the shopkeeper slowly moves to get it and hands it to the customer. Bottom line – you are really crunched for space on early levels. Later levels let you purchase upgrades to store more products inside and to have your workers move more quickly. These are wonderful, but, again, you need to be really careful with your money as you usually cannot afford to buy these. The upgrades must be purchased on each level you want to use them on so balance out speed and convenience and only purchase what you must have to achieve your goals in the time allotted.
Like the Farm Frenzy games, there are three goals you can achieve on each level. There is a gold level, a silver level and a passing level. A passing level will let you move on to the next level, but you usually cannot afford to move on without achieve a silver or gold level as you cannot purchase the upgrades you need to continue playing. A red “x” will be on top of the level so you know that you cannot progress to the next level unless you purchase something in the store. Click on the store button in the lower left hand corner and the upgrade you need to purchase will be highlighted so you know what you need. You can also purchase upgrades for your storehouse, shop shelves, faster traps, and more in the store. If you do not have enough money to buy what you need, go back and replay a previous level. If you beat a level 3 times on a passing level (shown with a checkmark), you earn almost as much money as the silver level. Then you can purchase the upgrade you need to keep playing. Replaying levels can also assist you in coming up with better strategies and staying on top of your goals so that you can get a better level the next time.
Instead of bears (like in Farm Frenzy), you have thieves that you must catch. The game has a warning sound that will pop up when a thief arrives on the scene. They are usually hiding behind a tomato bush. Then you have a few seconds before the thief shows himself. After a thief shows himself, you must click on the thief multiple times to build a cage around them. The cage prevents them from stealing your veggies, your water buckets or your finished products. They also drop fat bags of money, which really help you out when times are lean.
This is a fun, fast-paced time management game that will keep you on your toes. It is really easy to get distracted from the goals and to plant too many of one crop, too little of another or to purchase the wrong kind of upgrades. Fortunately, you can click on the menu button on the upper right hand corner and click on retry if you discover that you have made the wrong decision. The timer is right next to the menu button and will show you how much time you have to complete the level and earn a gold star. After that time passes, it will show you how much time you have to complete the level to earn a silver star. Once the silver threshold passes, it doesn’t matter how much time elapses to earn the passing check-mark score. If you just want to play and do things your own way, shoot for the passing marks and have fun with it. Your goals are shown on the upper left hand corner. The basic, easy-to-grow crops will be shown on the far left and then the progressively more difficult crops will be shown on the left of the bar. This is both helpful and hurtful as the easy crops grow the fastest and you could burn through all of your time on these cheap crops when you should be focusing on the higher-dollar-value, longer-growing crops. I tried several different strategies to play this game, some worked, some didn’t, but I had fun playing each and every level – no matter what trophy I earned! If you enjoy a challenging time management game, give this one a try. My main complaint with the game is that they do not do very much to get you going at the beginning. I felt the tutorial was a bit lackluster and did not give me important information, such as only being able to plant one crop at a time on a level 1 farm. The other is the most common complaint with time management games and that is that it can get pretty repetitive so you have to pace yourself while you play. Still, the graphics are well drawn and vibrant, there is a cute little storyline, several different types of customers to serve (some with special needs) and a lot of different crops to grow, sell and turn into veggie products!
This game is appropriate for viewers of all ages. There is some reading involved to follow the story line and to keep up on the hints and tips that the game will give you to help you win. All of your goals and purchases are shown with icons. Recommended for ages 8 and up.