When Cash Cow came out for PCs last year, it was one of those titles that was promptly shunted into the, “cute, but not great,” category. The coin-oriented puzzle game, while enjoyable, was a little too simple and shallow for some players. In short, it was a no-frills steak dinner. Now, though, Cash Cow is back, having been ported to the iPhone, and it seems to have been fleshed out a bit with better gameplay and more content; adding some sides to the dish definitely make this a meal worth sampling.
The core gameplay is still the same as it is in the PC version, utilizing the touch screen instead of a mouse. The main style of play still relies on players to take pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, and then combine them into larger denominations. Coins are cleared from the screen when a player can make a group of them add up to a dollar. Of course, the game quickly shows some curve balls your way: piggy banks, gold nuggets, bank sacks, and safes can be used to clear off increasingly large groups of coins. Meanwhile, other items like gold nuggets can increase the value of coin groupings when you remove them from the board. Finally, obstacles start presenting themselves in the form of false coins, which have to be dragged off the board in order to let players continue playing.
There are also two main game types, similar to what the PC version sported. Where the PC version had Classic and Timed modes, the iPhone edition has “Arcade” and “Relaxed.” There really isn't much of a difference between these, as the only noticeable difference is that the Arcade version sports a timer that is refilled with each coin combination while the Relaxed version doesn't have one.
There are some noticeable improvements to the game, though. When Cash Cow came out for the PC, it only had 25 levels for the main game. This time around, there are 30 levels. While that may not sound like much, it does increase the game's length, and there are also some extra game modes attached to Cash Cow: Endless, Practice, and Bonus. The Endless and Practice modes are pretty self-explanatory, but the Bonus mode lets users play through the bonus levels they've managed to unlock. These levels rely on the iPhone's motion-sensing capabilities and require you to tilt the phone in order to roll coins through a series of obstacles, to a bucket that adds to your accrued wealth.
In between levels, players can take their accumulated change and use it to make improvements and additions to the farm. Fixing up the farm and customizing its appearance is a simple but cathartic joy. Some items, like the barn's new door, roof, or the silo, have set positions that you can't change. Other items, like the color of the barn, flowers, trees, blackberry bushes, and hay bales, are customizable or can be placed wherever your heart desires. It sounds goofy, but it's amazing how much more fun a game like this becomes when there are tangible rewards you can put your hard-earned cash towards.
Thankfully, one of the major flaws that was present in the game's original build has been fixed; players used to be extremely limited with the types of coin combinations they could make. This time around, players can combine just about anything to create new coins or collections amounting to a dollar. As opposed to last time, this new version of the game could definitely hold some appeal for parents who are trying to teach their kids how the different coin values and groups can equal each other.
Overall, Cash Cow on the iPhone is what the game should have been when it was first released. It's got some challenging gameplay, fun puzzles, and has a great deal of child-friendly charm that will entertain people of all ages.