I just downloaded Magic Farm for PC and totally blasted through the one hour demo with my kids and now my finger is hovering over the buy button.
Years ago my dad said “Why does everyone make violent games, why can’t someone make a game about flower arranging?” and I said “because it would never sell dad, no one would want to play it!”. How wrong I was, because I totally failed to predict the emergence of casual gaming.
In Magic Farm your parents are missing on a botany trip or something and you need to earn money to pay various people to help you find them. You earn the money by growing flowers in your magic garden that seems to grow plants and flowers pretty darn quickly!
You start of by planting some flowers in some plots and then you click “start day”. During the day some flowers will appear and you need to click them to harvest them. Also the plants sometimes need water and you click the water icon on them to give them water. Furthermore, snails, wasps and other pests will attack the plants and you have to click them multiple times to whack them out of existence. A day doesn’t last long, maybe a minute at the most, and then you get to sell your flowers.
You can sell the flowers individually but it’s much more lucrative to put them in special bunches. You do this by dragging individual flowers over pre-made bunch templates that change every time you complete a bunch. If you are a hard-core gamer, this probably sounds lame, but I’m open-minded (man) and it’s pretty good fun – my kids loved it for sure. It’s a kind of matching mini-game I guess.
What do you do with the money? Well you farm on a bigger scale of course! You can buy more water barrels, bigger harvesting baskets, a well, more plots, more plants (different varieties) etc. Spending money in-games is always good fun and I really felt like pushing myself to earn as much as possible each day. The gameplay soon becomes totally frantic with flowers popping up everywhere, and pests invading in droves and plants constantly thirsting for water. It’s a crazy click-fest but it’s most enjoyable – especially as you also are rewarded for clicking stuff really quickly.
Amazingly, there’s another element to the gameplay! You get to upgrade your character’s attributes every so often like in an RPG – so you can upgrade your trading skill, your farming skill etc. You even get given a little dragon that roams the garden and helps you harvest, water and fight pests – plus you can even upgrade its skills too! This sort of character upgrade system always appeals to the geek in me.
So what’s not to like? Well some bits of the interface are under-polished visually and sometimes the actual functionality of the interface is impaired. For example, there is a Sell button but you have to click on the word Sell not the square button it’s sitting on – that’s pretty poor interface design. Also in-game the mouse clicks seem to frequently miss (especially on the water symbols). The tutorial is just an ugly green dialog with white text.
However, despite the lack of polish in some areas it’s a hell of an addictive game suitable for players of all ages. I recommend that you download the demo and give it a try today! This game is hot and is doing very well on Big Fish Games. Oh, apparently Magic Farm is very similar to Grimm’s Hatchery, which was pretty popular, so you might want to check that out too.
I'm an Indie game developer with a couple of titles under my belt. I've been programming for 23 years on a variety of platforms. Currently I'm using BlitzMax, which is great.