Funky Barn is quite a surprising game. I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than I expected I would. It never goes beyond being a simple farm simulation, one that is clearly aimed at a younger crowd, but what is there is incredibly charming and good example of the types of games that could work well on the Wii U. However, you may find the incentive to continue playing is lost after only a few hours of working your farm, but is that enough to keep this game from being one of the best on the Wii U? Head on down to the farm to find out.
Unfortunately, this barnyard adventure begins on a bit of a morbid note. Professor Hatsworth, who doubles as a farmer and robotics expert, created a line of sentient robots to perform the mundane tasks of farm labor. Regrettably, this “robotics expert” caught himself a cold when he thought that not wearing a warm jacket in the dead of winter was a good idea. It wasn’t… and now he’s dead – apparently the use of modern medicine had eluded him and his trusty farmhand Rufus. However, for some unknown reason you inherit his farm, which is now a complete and utter wreck. Now, with some helpful advice from Rufus, it’s up to you to rebuild the farm and make it a financial success.
In order for your farm to prosper it’s important to keep all of your livestock happy. You do this by adhering to the demands of each of your animals. Some animals want more space to roam around, others want more foliage, some want a bigger shelter to rest in, but most of the time your animals will complain about not having enough food or water. If your animals become too unhappy, they won’t produce anything for you to sell and will eventually float off into the sky via a large balloon.
Luckily, the game follows three very simple rules, get an animal, keep it happy and then make money from it; the rest of the work is done by machines. All you need to do is take an animal using the in-game cursor, drag it over to the appropriate machine and drop it in. A lot of disturbing noises will be made and soon your animal will be comically launched out of the machine like a cannon and your product will be ready to sell.
Selling products is as simple as dropping them into the main building, which comes conveniently equipped with a very large cannon. The cannon will then launch the milk, eggs, wool, or any other products you’re looking to sell into the atmosphere, leaving you with no other option than to earn some sweet sweet cash.
After you’ve earned enough money, you can begin to upgrade each of your buildings and start to level up your farm, which will slowly unlock new purchasable items in the in-game store. These items include the aforementioned farm robots the lazy professor created to do all the hard labor. These robots will collect the eggs, pick up the milk, gather the wool and bring it all back to the cannon, leaving you to happily neglect any micromanaging that would have taken place otherwise.
Unfortunately, there is a point where you will hit a noticeable wall and it comes pretty quick. This happens when you start making more money than you can spend. When this happens you will have upgraded your farm to its max level and purchased all the items available in the store, leaving you little incentive to continue playing. All you can really do at this point is to continue to feed your animals and easily avoid any trouble like tornadoes, chicken stealing weasels or alien cow abductions, which were all a fun addition.
Additional difficulties don’t provide much of an incentive to keep playing when you have to slowly unlock everything again. The three challenge modes that are available are not that overly exciting. Each forces you to repair a rundown farm before the time limit runs out. I found that I could easily achieve this by placing a very specific building around the farm, which quickly removed any challenge from this additional mode.
Funky Barn started off on a major high note. It was fun, had a surprising amount of charm and wasn’t offensive with its use of the GamePad. However, the incentive to continue playing disappeared after only a few hours, leaving the game to take over most of the challenge for you. It’s difficult to recommend this as a full retail package, but a $15 download would have made for an easier pill to swallow. With that being said, it’s clear this game was aimed at a younger audience, one that may find the mundane task of feeding the animals to be enough fun even when the surprises and challenges stop coming. Funky Barn proved one thing to me though, and that is there needs to be more games like this on the Wii U – preferably ones with less cow abductions.
Review copy supplied
Tested on Wii U