Most games don’t try to emulate a real career. Whilst playing Call of Duty, you don’t feel like a real soldier – there’s a lot less bullets and much more paperwork involved for most armed forces than in your average five hour CoD single player campaign. Launching with the Wii U at the end of the month though is a game that puts you in the shoes of a real profession – Farmer.
Funky Barn puts you in control of your very own farm, including cannons which deliver the eggs that your chicken’s produce and tornadoes looming ready to eat your sheep. So, obviously a title deep in realism.
I’ve played the Wii U quite a few times now and seen many of the titles trying to utilise the Wii U GamePad, but Funky Barn is the one title I’ve seen that has taken the touchscreen and embedded it into the gameplay seamlessly. The touchscreen can be used for nearly everything from choosing which animals you want from the stork, making purchases from the store, refreshing animals’ water troughs and even landscaping.
Funky Barn opens with you beginning your farm in a random part of the map, needing to start up your chickens. As your farm’s level advances, so does the amount of items and animals you receive. Breeding isn’t an option here so if you want more chickens, cows or sheep, then you need to wait for the stork to come overhead to choose one.
The aim of your farm, other than having more animals than Old MacDonald, is to make money. You can earn cash by using machines to perform various functions, such as blasting eggs off to buyers or auto shearing the sheep. Each machine can be upgraded in some way to be automatic, so once your farm grows you won’t be needing to run around overhead to tend to each animal.
Trade is one of the ways to get a big cash injection, even early in the game. Activated from the touchscreen, a local businessman will give you an offer and a time limit. If you can deliver what he wants in the time limit, you’ll get the coins. The items you trade in can be bundles of fur, eggs and milk from what I saw in the early part of the game.
Funky Barn is very clever in the way it requires you to level up. It could get very boring if you had everything unlocked and ready to go from the start, as you could just build a pimping farm and have no challenge left. But the fact that you need to work on your farm to get animals and need money to unlock more areas of the farm to build on means you need to stick with it. Sticking with it means that disaster might strike.
Foxes can come after your animals, for example, or sometimes something bigger. There I was, tending to my sheep in the middle of a trade and sending off bundles of wool when a symbol came up in the distance. A tornado. It came tumbling through the empty space and then turned, setting a collision course with my sheep pen. With no money to upgrade my gates for protection I could do nothing except sit there as my barns and sheep were sucked away into the sky.
A tear came to my eye as I sat there looking at the wanton destruction. Rebuilding commenced and I finished the trade in the nick of time.
Gameplay moves through the seasons, with each different season affecting the amount of coins you can receive and how well your animals perform. It’s important to change your focus to make sure you succeed as well as you can with your current animals, but also to keep them all happy as if they become too sad or too angry, then they can put on a parachute and evacuate the farm.
I didn’t go in there expecting to love what I played but I really enjoyed my time with Funky Barn, getting hooked and going massively over my appointment time with the title. It’s a nice escapist title when FPS #505813 gets too tiresome for you and whilst graphically it’s not a huge looker, it has immense charm to it, a good example being the egg robot which will automatically collect your eggs for you.
More importantly, this is the one title so far which has really made me enjoy the Wii U GamePad. It wasn’t being used for ancillary maps but was a part of the core gameplay and for that, it worked really well. This is probably aided by the titles previous incarnation on the 3DS.
Funky Barn is available as a launch title for the Wii U.