Farm Frenzy 3 Review—Lions and Penguins and Bears, Oh My!
Farm Frenzy 3, from Alawar and converted to Minis by SPL, is a bit misleading because it’s actually the fourth Farm Frenzy game released as a Mini. In a way though, it’s almost several Farm Frenzy games in one. Rather than simply having one farm with one theme, the game has five separate ones, all in fairly exotic locations like different jungles, the veldt of Africa, and even the Antarctic waste.
Regardless of where the farm is set, the gameplay is essentially the same as in past Farm Frenzy games. You constantly plop down food (mostly grass), which is eaten by various farm animals, who eventually will drop products, which you collect and possibly turn into other products using factories and mills, which can be turned into other products. For instance, you might have birds who drop eggs, which can be powdered and turned into cake.
All this is accomplished by the D-pad or analog nub controlling a pointer on the screen. You move it around and tap the X button to do most things—to grow grass, to build a cage around a predator, or to collect or deliver items. As with past Farm Frenzy games, it seems to be a rather literal conversion of the touchscreen of the iOS version rather than taking advantage of all the PSP’s buttons, though it does use the Square button to fill up the well.
To complete each level of the game, you have to fulfill certain criteria: either make enough money, own a certain amount of animals, or produce a given number of products, or a combination of all three. Other than occasional predatory animals like a bear or lion (which you must capture before they eat your animals), the challenge of the game is finishing a level in a given amount of time. Thus games like this are called “time management” games.
What sets Farm Frenzy 3 apart from past games is they’ve tried to pick more exotic locations. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the level progression; rather than as in past games where you had a street map of sorts, letting you pick from a path of stages, here you simply have a list of stages to beat, after which you unlock the next world. It’s certainly functional, and not too different from past games, but it detracts from the atmosphere and is more linear.
Atmosphere is really Farm Frenzy 3′s problem—while you have all these exotic locations, it mostly feels the same from level to level. While I’m not an expert on time management games by any means, I have played several of them, and typically they have a story that ties things together. Apparently the Farm Frenzy games do have stories (told by comic book-like cutscenes), but the Minis conversions have removed them for some reason (the various casual games from G5 did keep the cutscenes, so it’s certainly possible to keep them in). This is one where it really would have been useful to break up the monotony of the gameplay.
Graphically, Farm Frenzy 3 mercifully steps away from the 3D animal models turned into 2D sprites found in Farm Frenzy 2 but instead has hand-drawn art (or if not hand-drawn, much better models). Very realistic art. The animations are also very nice, and with five locales, there is a lot of variety. The music is also more varied than in past games, but also more unremarkable.
Farm Frenzy 3 offers up more Farm Frenzy, but it lacks the charm of the original title and Farm Frenzy: Pizza Party. Not as sterile as Farm Frenzy 2, Farm Frenzy 3 still feels like it’s a step in the wrong direction. It’s also easier than Farm Frenzy: Pizza Party, which could get tricky at times. You do get more levels than in past entries in the series, as well as vastly different farm types, so if that’s all you’re after, Farm Frenzy 3 is probably worth a buy.
Really, the most interesting part is the Antarctic level, which got its own spin-off game. But with the Minis program winding down, we might not see that ported over.