BumperCrop is a Facebook game for those who take their virtual farming very strategically seriously
There’s been a bit of a Green Acres fever among casual gamers the past couple of years. With Farmville leading the way, people around the world apparently get immense satisfaction from running a virtual homestead that peddles tomatoes and grape and potatoes and corn. The new BumperCrop receives the torch and runs with the trend.
Familiar enough, gameplay consists of plowing fields and planting a variety of seeds. Each crop takes a certain amount of time to grow, and a certain amount of time to wilt, rendering the product unsellable and wasted. For example, onions take four hours to grow, but wait eight hours, and they’ll be as plump and juicy as a melted tire.
The nice thing about the game is that it isn’t rocket science. Even by casual game standards, it’s a cinch for anyone to figure out, making for a game that’s really accessible and not intimidating whatsoever. Plow, plant, harvest, repeat. The social aspects of the game make it inviting, too: Check on your friends’ farms, help them harvest their crops, and maybe they’ll do the same for you.
However, while it’s an easy game to jump right into, you hit a wall—fast. Those onions I mentioned earlier? They’re the one of the first crops available to you, as well as the most basic. That means that its four-hour growth time is the minimum time needed to start making profits. Many farming or simulation games of this ilk typically have at least one creation with a fast turnaround time, albeit a puny profit. Since BumperCrop lacks something like this, it’s hard to get hooked, or if you have a short attention span, even mildly interested. While the game adds elements that make the experience feel more like realistic farming, some players may not want things too realistic. Other farming sims just provide simple, briskly-paced cycles of growing and selling, with an occasional wacky bonus thrown in, like a pink cow or a decorative Dutch windmill. And that’s all some people want. Orchard-planning and weed prevention and extermination, while delightfully challenging, might be just too involved for some.
There are 25 levels to be reached as you make profits and plant lots of crops. With each new level come new obstacles. For example, at level 11, weeds start to appear in your fields, which can take up space as they begin to spread. Or at level 10, a “skill” meter is introduced, and you’ll only be able to plant certain crops after you’ve reached a designated skill level. Keep attempting to plant seeds and successfully harvest them to up your skill.
But you’ll only reach new levels as you amass credits—coincidentally, credits also function as the cash in this game. That means you lose credits with each seed you sow, making it tough going to reach the next level. This is one of the main reasons why the game moves slowly, but the game makes no apologies. It even declares in the help section that unlike other farm sims, money and success in BumperCrop don’t come easily. It’s clear a lot of thought went into this game, and they really tried to differentiate itself from everything else out there—but it may alienate some gamers in the process.
To be sure, the game’s challenge, as well as the fact it doesn’t spoon-feed you anything, sets it apart from the silo-full of other barnyard-set games on Facebook. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. Many gamers want something that’s instantly gratifying, at least in some way, but more patient, discriminating players might find BumperCrop a welcome addition to the farming genre. There are levels of strategy that most of its peers don’t reach, making them seem pretty simplistic in comparison. Here, there’s less mindless clicking, and more thoughtful farming. As the game’s title screen states: “It grows on you.”