(Wii U)

Funky Barn (Wii U)

Game Review

Funky Barn Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mike Mason

E - I - E - I - oh

If you're looking for the most happening place on Miiverse, look no further than the community for Funky Barn. Filled with sketches of animals in sunglasses and musical references, it's become a haven for memes and the friendliest trolling you've ever seen. When somebody posts about the game itself rather than its title, it's met with amazement and apparently genuine curiousity from users wondering whether it's a barn that's actually worth visiting.

Debatably the title is little more than an inaccurate misstep that has prodded temptingly at the traditionally cheeky online gaming crowd; there are barns alright, but there's nothing especially funky about them. Based on its Miiverse response, however, it's certainly proved canny from a marketing point of view. Would a simplistic game about building a farm really have received so much attention were it not for the name?

Funky Barn gives you free reign to construct your own agricultural dream land. By caring for animals, growing crops and protecting your property from thunderstorms, foxes and UFO attacks, you earn money to improve your farm. The more you add, the higher your level grows, unlocking more bits, pieces and animals as you go. Animals don't actually cost you any money, but you can only get a new one whenever a stork happens by.

Maintenance is a more time-consuming endeavour than creation, however. Once you've popped up your pretty little pens, filled them with animals and lined the roads with fruit trees, you then have to make sure everything continues to run smoothly. Food and water troughs require regular replenishment, cows have to be milked, produce needs to be collected quickly and sold off. You can't afford to feed your animals without money; without fodder they grow unhappy and either leave or don't give out the goods.

Funky Barn's main gameplay essentially involves watching over all, fixing and picking things up so that everything continues to tick over. Every so often a neighbour will also pop up with an optional trade challenge, asking for a certain amount of produce within a time limit in exchange for a delicious cash bonus.

There are rarely significant moments of victory; it all feeds into a compulsive loop that initially needs constant attention, actions rewarded by little sound effects and a growing bank balance, which is usually promptly emptied in order to complete something else. Funky Barn's simple and repetitive, but there's definitely something addictive and compelling about it.

As you go on you can also buy contraptions to help out, such as automatic robots that stomp about sucking up eggs and spitting them straight into the selling area for you, or you can upgrade shearing machines so that they grab any sheep in need of a haircut by themselves. These gadgets save you the hassle of seeking out eggs or dragging animals into the appropriate machine. The problem is that they're a little too useful, to the point that your farm ends up running itself, leaving you to sit back, fill up the odd trough and watch your money counter soar.

Funky Barn's main issue is that there isn't enough content to keep the momentum going, and it certainly doesn't come close to justifying a full retail price tag. It's possible to see everything within five hours or so, and after that there's no incentive to go on unless you really want to earn thousands of virtual coins. The animal count is quite low, with only a few species available from basic chickens and sheep to more exotic beasts such as alpacas. Even within the small range produce types are duplicated, only differentiated by price: a goose egg sells for more than a chicken's, for instance.

There are three challenge levels to slosh through, but they add little. These stages thrust you into a trio of utterly ruined farms and ask you to fix them up to an acceptable standard against a time limit. Otherwise the gameplay doesn't differ: you're still collecting, selling and buying continually. You're given a score at the end, but without any leaderboards it's a bit worthless.

A full set of these missions formed into some kind of campaign, plus a pile of extra animals, plants and machinery, could have made Funky Barn into a much more enticing prospect. It's clearly been constructed on a very tight budget; the sound is repetitious, the same animal noises playing out over and over again, while the visuals fall short of what we'd expect of a high definition console in 2012. Some animals are nothing more than blobs with a few circles for limbs and some splodges for eyes. It's not an entirely lost cause, and there's something sweet about the chunky style, but it's safe to say that it's not among Wii U's best looking titles by some distance.

It does make decent use of the GamePad, though. The view is mirrored across TV and controller, and you can use either touch screen or analogue sticks to interact with the world. You operate a floating hand with your chosen method and pick things up by clicking the ZL or ZR button when it's drifting over something of interest. It works well, though when you have loads of stuff in your farm there can be some very slight frame rate drops when dragging around the map.

Touch control was our preference, and the handheld screen is extra convenient because it shows the farm in a style approaching night vision; everything is darkened and the most important things, like animals and ready-to-sell produce, are highlighted in neon colours. If you click on an object that's overlapping or right next to another, a helpful menu pops up to confirm which of the objects you wanted to select.

Focusing on an animal also lets you check its mood, give it a little stroke or customise it with a new colour; it's surprising that there aren't other touch interactions like this, such as manual milking or shearing. The lack of an off-TV, GamePad-only option is a missed opportunity, however; its micro-managerial nature could have been fun to muck about with idly while watching TV.

Conclusion

Don't let the incessant trolling of its Miiverse community delude you, as Funky Barn is not an entirely bad game. It's far from pretty, but its simple gameplay is quite addictive while it lasts and it controls well. What really puts it out to pasture prematurely is its unjustly high price tag and a dearth of content, however: it only takes a few hours to see everything, and after that there's very little reason to return to the fields.

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User Comments (32)

Gioku

#1

Gioku said:

I saw this in Gamestop yesterday (it was the first time I'd seen it), and without even knowing anything about it other than its cover, I knew it would be a mediocre game. And I was right, apparently!

moomoo

#2

moomoo said:

I was looking at a Miiverse video over a week ago showing the community for this game. No one had the game.

RupeeClock

#4

RupeeClock said:

@moomoo Incredibly, maybe this shows that Miiverse could demonstrate how certain titles have literally no appeal of a certain demographic?

Bankai

#7

Bankai said:

The trolling that this game has seen pretty much confirms for me that MiiVerse is not going to be a pleasant place unless you're into the mainstream games.

For the record I disagree with this review somewhat. It's a simple but very charming and pleasant game and really has the 'one more hour' addiction feel to it. No classic, but I scored it 3.5/5

Roynerer

#12

Roynerer said:

Seriously, just...why do developers embarrass themselves with such piss-poor games?
Where has all the effort and passion gone of the 80s/90s developer?

Bankai

#13

Bankai said:

$50 says Roynerer hasn't got this game.

$50 also says Roynerer has forgotten all the bad games of the 80s and 90s. It's the way it works. People forget the average games. The only ones they remember is the really good ones or really bad ones.

Roynerer

#14

Roynerer said:

@WhiteKnight
My sister has it.

While that may very well be true, there are a lot more greater games I can remember limitlessly enjoying from both those eras than the current.
My point was mainly aimed at the Wii, how only Nintendo managed to develop killer titles, whilst the majority of 3rd party titles were either average or abominations.

Bankai

#15

Bankai said:

@Roynerer Very well, my apologies then. I assumed that you didn't have the game because, looking at MiiVerse, almost everyone that has this game actually enjoys it.

As to your other point, thought, I don't see how you can possibly say there are not as many great games now as there were back in the 80s.

It's a simple matter of numbers. The reason there are more good-to-great games now is because the games industry is about 10 times the size it was back in the 80s and 90s. When there's $100 billion in the industry of course there's going to be more games than when the size of the industry was $10 billion.

It's also easier to be a game developer now thanks to mobile platforms and engines like Unity.

Putting aside the rose-tinted glasses, I can possibly name 100 games that I truly loved from the early PC/ Commodore 64 through to Nintendo 64 era. I've played more than 100 games that I truly loved in just the last year.

Ispheria

#19

Ispheria said:

woah woah woah...is it just me or in the first picture are they getting ready to grind up a sheep? who eat's grounded sheep meat?

rjejr

#20

rjejr said:

@Ispheria - I think it's called "lamb". And lots of people.

I'm pretty sure if there were on the eShop it would win the honor of first Wii U shovelware, voted for exclusively by people who had never played it.

At least I think this game proves that even if buttonless tablets can't have real games at least consoles can have free or 99 cent app games, even if they can't get them at that price.

Bankai

#21

Bankai said:

@rjejr Sheep meat is called "mutton." Baby sheep are lambs, so guess what you're eating when you eat "lamb?"

This game is well beyond a free/ $0.99 game. While I agree it would have been better off as a $20 eShop download, the game is better value than this review makes it out to be. It's very replayable and even if you only play each map once (ignoring the challenges), you're going to get 15-20 hours of play time out of the game.

Kohaku

#23

Kohaku said:

It's a nice game, I've played it. But it's true that it is to expensive.
Should it be an Eshop title for 15-20 euro's then it would be a must have because it's fun to play this game.

StarDust4Ever

#25

StarDust4Ever said:

Well, if you click on the NL link for 505 Games, you will see that this is actually one of their better game reviews :P

Lobster

#28

Lobster said:

You know, this is far better than it sounded. It's too bad there isn't more content. I actually like this sort of game on mobile (where it's usually freemium, ugh). Funky Barn, when you hit the bargain bin in a few weeks or months, consider yourself considered!

lizparr93

#29

lizparr93 said:

This is a fun game for those of us who don't play very many video games. It's simple and there are constantly tasks to do. I like to play it myself, but I also knew that my little sister would like to have her hand at it also. Perfect for kids 4-10. The controls can be awkward at first and there is a long intro every time you play, but that's why it only costs $30 compared to the $60+ that other games can cost.

Burning_Spear

#30

Burning_Spear said:

I received this as a gift. After letting it sit on the shelf for nearly two months, I finally played it yesterday. It's a neat little game. You get three levels of game play, so after you beat the easiest campaign, which takes several hours, there are two more difficult ones remaining. There are also the challenge farms Mike mentioned. For me, the only problem is the freezing. It froze twice yesterday; once after an hour of playing and not having saved anything. Save your game often! If it weren't for the freezing problem, which is pretty common from what I've read on Miiverse, I would score this a 6.5.

brucelebnd

#31

brucelebnd said:

it's a fun game. I think people forgot that and get caught up in polish and gloss. for what this game is it's fine. it uses the gamepad well enough and it is entertaining. for $30 what do you want?

yeah maybe it should have been an eshop game but still. I agree with @Burning_Spear a 6.5 is fair

Subie98

#32

Subie98 said:

Decent game, just wish it had more levels or a create your own level type of challenge.

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