Critter Farm is an entertaining twist on farm sims that’s perfect for Android phones.

After FarmVille hit it big, dozens of imitators rushed to make mobile versions that would let farm sim enthusiasts play on the go. Many of these games were functionally FarmVille clones, but Critter Farm manages to be something very different. In Critter Farm, the emphasis isn’t just on farming, but on protecting your farm from animals that want to eat your crops. By catching critters you add them to your collection, and get chances to send them to a friend’s farm to help them complete their collection. What types of crops you grow determine which critters attack, so you have incentive to try growing lots of different things.

Critter Farm‘s interface is a very simple and intuitive use of the touch screen. You drag around 2D icons and double-click to confirm their placement. A tooltip menu lets you move around objects or plots you’ve already placed, buy and position objects, or switch to a function that lets you water crops or pat livestock. Another tooltip menu lets you access the game’s social functions, which are handled primarily through secondary menus. Icons going up the left side of the screen let you track your activity Wall, look at new quests you’ve been offered, and look at your trophy case.

Critter Farm

Your trophy case is key to the most unusual aspect of the gameplay. When a crop matures, there’s a chance that an animal will appear immediately to begin eating it. You can capture it using either a net or a hammer, though it’s not entirely clear what benefits the net offers over the hammer. Either way, you get a special seed for capturing the critter. Each critter comes in five colors of varying degrees of rarity. If you capture three you get a silver statue, and at five you get a gold statue. Some critter colors require you to grow special seeds in order to attract them.

Every time you catch a critter you can try to send it to a friend’s farm. This isn’t an act of sabotage but of sharing, since you can see which friends need which critter colors. If the critter makes it successfully, you both have chances at getting special seeds. Critter Farm uses an open system that makes getting friends much less onerous than it can be in Facebook games or certain mobile games. You automatically have neighbors who can freely visit your farm, help you, and send friend requests. Likewise, you can freely visit other neighbors and send requests. This ensures that any interested player can actually make good use of the game’s social features.

Critter Farm

Critter Farm is that it runs on the Mobage network, so you have to install and sign up for Mobage before you can play it. This is not an especially difficult thing to do, but it is another step you have to go through before you can start playing. The ability to find neighbors is clearly contingent on the Mobage network, too, so there are definite benefits to doing things this way. If you don’t mind the two-step installation process and signing up for yet another mobile service, then Critter Farm is definitely one of the most worthwhile farm sims available for Android.