Developer: Tag Games Limited
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

mzl_fgkijled_480x480-75So it was my intention to get a review of Astro Ranch out much earlier than today, but the game is so immersive that I felt I needed additional time to really get a feel for the playability. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the elements existing within this game, and while not perfect, definitely provide a lot of excitement.

Astro Ranch is a farming style game that follows elements from the Harvest Moon series. Being a Harvest Moon enthusiast since it was released on the SNES, and since recently playing Animal Parade for the Wii, I was ecstatic to hear that this title was coming out. The game play in this game, while a little rough around the edges, certainly doesn’t disappoint however.

In Astro Ranch, players take on the role of a boy or girl who has crash landed on a planet. The only way to survive is to turn the surface of the planet into a farming haven. The game is complete with a stock system that shows a fluctuation of crop prices, so it is to the player’s advantage to monitor those changes, and only sell crops on days where the going price is high.

Additionally, there is animal raising, fishing, gold sifting, and a whole slew of other tasks to complete throughout the game. The ultimate goal is to rebuild your spaceship, with help of the quirky scientist that just happens to be on the planet’s surface. As actions occur, experience is awarded, and your farmer gains levels. As the levels increase, and additional options are opened, the goal becomes closer and closer to achievement.

Astro Ranch is complete with my favorite part of games like this… upgrades. I’m a sucker for upgrading tools and buildings, and in Astro Ranch as you level, upgrades become available for your items, the barn, the house, and the different seeds and animals available for use. I tend to speed as quickly as I can to that top level house upgrade, for what purpose I don’t know.

Astro Ranch provided me with a vast amount of fun, but the game is not without its glitches. The first I experienced is upon starting the game up, it froze and I needed to completely reboot my iPod. Additionally, it’s unclear in the tutorial exactly when to water your plants. In similar games, the soil goes from dry to wet upon watering, but the soil in this game went from wet to dry, implying to me that I should water my plants two and three times a day.

The fishing and gold mini-games are rough to get the hang of because of awkward controls, but they certainly aren’t impossible. I found myself spending a lot of time trying to center my fishing cast, only to be brought back to the world screen and have to start all over again. Don’t even get me started on trying to learn the gold mini game. It involves shaking the iPod, and apparently I shook it too hard, for the first 20 times I tried to get it to work.

Overall Astro Ranch is a great, yet flawed, addition to the farming style games available on the market. If you find that games such as Farmville, Animal Crossing, and Harvest Moon are your cup of tea, then Astro Ranch is a definite purchase. If the idea of watering crops just sounds like work to you, maybe you should stick with something else.

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