We now have casual games about weddings, nannies, bird watching and flipping burgers – so why not farming?
You can indeed get your hands dirty with Arcade Lab’s Alice Greenfingers, a new strategy/simulation hybrid that will have you tending to a farm and selling your goods so you can afford better equipment, new kinds of seeds and other aids to help nourish the soil.
Similar to a micromanagement game like Diner Dash — where your work is divided into days and the objective is to grow your business and line your pockets – Alice Greenfingers will have you clicking away like mad to juggle all of your responsibilities to keep the farm productive and profitable.
For example, a typically day looks something like this. You click on the shovel and then click somewhere on the green ground to dig a hole. Then you click on the bag of seeds – such as tomatoes, which you get at the beginning of the game – and then sprinkle them over your new dirt patch. In time, your fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit) will grow, but you will need to continuously water them with a can, and then collect the ripe produce in a box and bring it to your storage facility. After you repeat this process a few times, switching between items such as watering cans, shovels, seeds and boxes, you will choose to go to the market, set your prices (based on market demand) and hopefully sell your wares to make money.
The cash you collect on the farm can be used in the store to upgrade your equipment, such as a bigger watering can that requires less refilling at the pump, a bigger shovel to create a larger patch of dirt, new seeds (such as strawberries, grapes, corn or lilies – all of which you can sell at the market), a bigger box to carry more items back to storage or better fertilizer for faster growth. And what would a farm be like without chickens and other animals?
A few times throughout each "day" you will receive a message at the farm, such as a newspaper article written about your wonderful vegetables (which means, in turn, you might be able to charge a bit more for them at the market) or you might hear from someone willing to buy your goods in bulk for a specific price, which you can accept or decline.
Alice Greenfingers is very much a game of: "in order to do ‘C’ you need to buy ‘B’" and in order to get ‘B’ you need to sell ‘A’" and so on. Once your farm grows busy with fruits, vegetables and flowers popping up every second, things can get amusingly hectic as you race around to pluck ripe products, click on the market to set prices and on the store to buy new goods.
At the end of each day you’re given information such as stats for health, popularity, knowledge and wealth, as well as dollar amounts for earnings, expenses and today’s winnings. Players can also win more than a dozen awards throughout the game, such as "Selling 25th box of tomatoes" or Growing your 100th daisy."
This garden/farm simulation is certainly fun for multi-taskers but the 2-D graphics are very out of date. Some might says it has "retro" appeal, but I couldn’t help feel while I was playing this how much better the experience would be if the game was refreshed with today’s technology.
But for those in search of a fun and frantic farm life sim, Alice Greenfingers is worth plucking for the free trial – available on both Windows and Macs.