Want to work on a farm? Given the number of farming games we’ve seen lately, this seems to be a popular idea…at least with game developers. If you’re up for another one, or just like wearing overalls and a straw hat, Sunshine Acres is a time management farming game that has you raising fresh veggies to keep your little plot growing.
There’s no story to follow, so just dig in. You’ll start off by growing sunflowers. Click on a pre-dug dirt spot, and select the crop you want to plant. Each crop costs a different amount to plant, but sunflowers are the cheapest at 10 gold each. Once you’ve got the plant settled, you’ll need to tend it. This is done by selecting the watering can to water it, or selecting the shovel to till the soil. Both actions have gauges, with the droplets to the left indicating the plants hydration, and the soil quality being indicated by dots underneath. If you’re lucky, it will rain and your crops will be watered for you!
Later in the game, other plants will have further needs. Peppers and tomatoes are prone to fungus, so they need medicine to maximize their growth. You’ll sometimes be prompted by a picture over the plant if a need isn’t being met.
Your objective is to try and get all of the plants needs fully met before harvest, which will give you a bigger yield. The more successful you are, the more items you will be able to harvest and sell. Some crops are more high maintenance than others. Sunflowers grow well if tilled once and watered twice, but tomatoes need several bouts of each, plus a few doses of medicine to get the most return for your money.
Once a plant is fully grown, it will be automatically harvested for you. Click on the final product to move it to the loading dock. You must do this quickly, or else the product will blink and then disappear. Once it’s on the dock, you can either send it to the market, or refine it. Refining a product depends on owning the appropriate upgrade, like an oil press or popcorn maker, and clicking on the upgrade will start the refining process for you. Once you’re ready to sell, click your truck to select which good to send out. You’ll be paid for them once your truck returns.
If that wasn’t enough to manage, you must contend with meddlesome sheep that eat your crops. Click on them to scare them away. You also have a canine companion who digs up coins that you can collect, but you must feed him when he requests.
Throughout the game, you’ll have the opportunity to buy upgrades during each level. Some upgrades must be bought before you can complete a level, like those that refine crops. Still other upgrades require you to manually refill them periodically, like medicine and crop spray. Unfortunately, you don’t always get to keep all of the upgrades you bought, but to compensate you automatically receive certain upgrades at different levels. Your money also resets each level, so it doesn’t carry over.
In order to complete each level, you’ll need to meet all of the level’s goals. This is usually done by producing specific items, and earning enough gold. The truck does not need to leave before your last orders are processed — they count anyway. They level is automatically completed as soon as you meet all goals.
Even if you’ve completed each level, you need to reach a certain score before you’re allowed to progress. This can be achieved by going back and replaying levels which you didn’t do well on (and you can judge this by your time bonuses, shown as clocks over each level). This becomes tough around halfway through the game when even all "bronze" time awards aren’t enough to get your score to the right level.
If you’re looking for a gardening game that doesn’t get bogged down with story details or complicated tasks, but still offers routine time management game play with plenty of frantic clicking, that about sums up Sunshine Acres. New tasks are added gradually, so it’s easy to learn how to play.
If you’re not a fan of action games, you might not like fighting off the pesky sheep as you garden. The difficulty of advancing in the second half of the game (due to score restriction) can also become frustrating, especially if you’ve already beaten all of the previous boards and just want to move on. While the game’s general pace is good, there are no surprises along the way other than more difficult level goals, so the game falls into one continuous pattern.
With so many farming-themed time management games popping up lately, Sunshine Acres has to compete with titles like Farm Frenzy, Dairy Dash, Ranch Rush and Alice Greenfingers… and that’s only naming a few. All of these choices make it difficult for Sunshine Acres to stand out and, well, shine.