The vast majority of Facebook farmers spend their virtual time plowing fields in what looks to be the heartlands of America. But wouldn’t it be fun to grow somewhere a little more tropical? Tiki Farm brings the Facebook farming phenomenon to a sun and sand island paradise, and it does so with some surprisingly delightful tropical tricks up its sleeve. So hop on a jet, pack your seeds, and get ready to kick off your equatorial farming adventure!

The idea behind Tiki Farm should be familiar to any Facebook farming vet, but for those of you not normally wrist deep in virtual soil let’s take a moment to get you up to speed. Your experience on the farm centers around the growing and selling of crops. Doing so will earn you coins and experience which in turn opens up the ability to purchase bigger crops and more land for your farm. This basic structure is pretty much cookie cutter across the entire genre. It’s what you do within that cookie cutter that can help a good game stand out in the crowd, and Tiki Farm does a lot.

Each step of the process has been deepened and expanded when compared to the titles that have come before. Mega-hits like Farmville, while genius in their own right, tend to offer up a fairly shallow list of requirements for raising and selling your goods. The three-step mantra “plow the ground, plant the seeds, sell the crops” is something we see time and time again. The genius of Tiki Farm is that, rather than creating a world of gameplay outside of this mechanic to hold your interest, it looks that this three-step system and finds a way to deepen and enrich it.

When you plant a crop in Tiki Farm you don’t simply plow and seed. You’ll need to water each of these plots of land to ensure things grow right. Regardless of how long a plant takes to grow every plant needs to be watered every 24 hours. And then there’s the bugs. A rampant infestation can ruin your crops, so you’ll need to check in fairly regularly to make sure that no critters have climbed into your cache. If they have you’ll need to scare those little demons off, or else your crop growth will slow to a grinding halt. Once your crops have grown, you’ll need to harvest them one by one. And while there’s technically no rush in the harvest process, the game will pay you off in bonus XP and the occasional free gift if you harvest shortly after a crop is ready.

Once you’ve made it through the growth process, you’ll need to sell your crops at the market. Selling isn’t automatic when a crop is harvested – you’ll need to go to the market and sell your crops yourself. If market prices fluctuated it would add a fun economic layer to the game, but selling in the market doesn’t add anything to the experience in Tiki Farm and ends up feeling like an unnecessary step. It’s strange, especially considering how relevant every other step in the experience feels.

It’s also hard to not nitpick about the game’s visuals. The art design and island vibe are outstanding, so there’s nothing to really complain about there. But the crops themselves all start out with the same generic “seeded plot” image and don’t change to something unique until it’s almost time to harvest. We would have loved to have seen crop-specific graphics at every step from seed to harvest. Instead we have to hover over each of our crops to find out what’s even planted there.

With a deeper experience in crop development thanks to the added steps and tweaks to the popular formula comes a bit of a trade off – you’re not going to be able to grow the ridiculous number of crops you’re going to find in other games. Some might find this to be a weakness, but I’d say it’s a good thing. With more to do, fewer plots of land seems like a logical choice for the development team to make. After all — I’d rather spend my time tending 30 plots of land while worrying about bugs and water than seeding 100 plots of land and having nothing to do but wait. With every level you’re earn new plots of land anyway, so it’s not like you’ll have a tiny number of plots forever.

Like any good Facebook game, there’s more to do than just farming. You can purchase decorations for your island that complement the Tiki Farm art style, send gifts to your friends, and purchase premium items with real world money. None of these do anything to break from genre traditions, but the game isn’t lacking them either. If you’re looking to check out Tiki Farm, rest assured that the game isn’t lacking in any of the standard gameplay elements that we’ve all come to know and love from social Facebook games.

At a glance some gamers might think there’s little more to be had here than a tropical coat of paint on an already well-tread idea, but we were delighted to discover that Tiki Farm alters the Facebook farming formula just enough to offer a deeper experience without abandoning the core concepts that people have come to love. Sure it could use a little tweaking, but overall Tiki Farm is a terrific take on the farming genre that every Facebook farmhand should dig.