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GBA

North America

Barnyard

by Jeff Shirley - September 10, 2006, 11:33 pm PDT
Total comments: 8

2

I cannot sum up my feelings on this game in a teaser sentence. There are darker forces here which decry such summary.

It’s almost down to a formula now. You have a CG talking animal movie, in this case Nickelodeon’s Barnyard, and what comes next? Easy. Licensed video games! And the quality of such material ranges from the absolutely atrocious to the effortful above average. Barnyard unfortunately belongs to the former.

I will get to the game itself in a minute, but first there are a few things that bother me about the movie/game’s concept. You won’t know this until you select your character (who you get to name because you aren't playing as anyone in the movie), but apparently every single cow has udders, even the bulls. Now, I now, you are probably rummaging through your animal anatomy textbooks as you read and finding out that, yes, this is impossible. The udder, by way of blasting out milk, is the main weapon in the game. I’m sure for the bull characters it is some sort of prosthetic udder with a suitable lactate-substitute, but you dear readers have something much cheekier in mind, no doubt. Gender-bending farm animals aside, the weirdness of the game’s concept is only just beginning.

First off, this farm that houses all of this livestock apparently does not have an owner. That is to say, there is no farmer. He shows up later, but only in the way of “oh dear, the farmer is unconscious." At no point do the animals talk to, or even about the farmer. He remains enigmatic and elusive, possibly due to the obvious whacked-out genetic testing he is involved in. Hermaphrodite cows must produce some tasty beef to go to all this trouble even to hide the farmer from the player, much less the outside world in the game.

Now, the idea of farm animals standing upright and conversing is strange enough. Yes, I understand that they only do this when humans aren’t around, and that is a premise of the movie. And when they stand, a cow such as Otis (the main character in the movie), would gain a considerable height advantage over a typical human. And several hogs on the farm, if big enough on four legs, would compare to the average height of a man as well. However, one of Otis’s friends is a ferret named Freddy. He is about as tall as Otis when he stands, which would make him the Ferret God. Seriously, I can just see him waiting for the right moment when no human is around to rapidly expand his matter to eleven times that of a normal ferret and continue his reign.

Somewhere in the plot of the movie, poor Otis’s father, Ben, another walking, talking bovine, dies at the hand of the local junkyard coyotes that roam the farmlands in search of bipedal livestock. They make quick work of the father, apparently, as their “attack" is depicted as a lubberly gait away from the dead cow lying on the ground. Not to be outdone, Otis buries his father that night and in the morning is already making somewhat of a mournful recovery. This is a sequence that lasts scant seconds in the game. To summarize:

*Scene of Ben’s Death*

1st second: Coyotes shamble away from Ben like there was a mild unpleasantness about him.


2nd second: Otis runs up and Insta-Mourns.


3rd second: Fade to black.


4th second through 6th second: Grave site of Ben with full procession of farm animals whose names are easily forgotten.


7th second: Fade to black.


8th second: Game resumes!

I’m sure Ben will live on in their hearts.

I think you’ll notice by now that I haven’t said much about the game itself. And that’s easy to explain. There isn’t much to discuss. The game is basically Animal Crossing without the community. You walk around the farm with your cow avatar and do errands for people and play mini-games. A few story events pop up here or there, and that’s it. Well sure, you do earn “Barnyard Bucks" to spend at the Gopher Underground (the store, basically) but by way of some glitch other unexplained phenomena, any purchase made there never actually registers in the game. For example, I bought several items to upgrade what is apparently an upgradeable room in the basement of the barn, yet they never actually materialized there, and I remain as yet unsure exactly where they are. They seemed to have disappeared into a black hole, never to be seen again.

The mini-games range from mildly amusing (the raccoon-tossing one in particular) to dreadfully boring and bad (the fruit sorting game will be a frequent nightmare for me, I am sure) and the overall quality is unfortunately tilted towards the latter. Nothing in this game is fun. I could prattle on about the laundry list of problems with this game (the graphics, the irritating, repetitive music, and just the general overall lack of substance in Barnyard), but I don’t think you would appreciate that very much.

You know, I think I’ll take this moment to ponder why I review these games. It could be to test my hypothesis on the correlation between the number of corporate logos on game startup and how terrible a licensed game is. Or, I could seriously be attempting to find those rare hidden gems that have either unwillingly been saddled with a license or actually attempt to expand said license in a meaningful way. But, in any case, I have to be prepared for the reality that my work is meaningless. The window for those whom my opinion would reach is quite narrow. Enthusiasts are already disinclined to purchase Barnyard, and thus would not need to read this review. Yet on the other hand, anybody who is inclined to get Barnyard for whatever reason most definitely does not read reviews about it. This is quite a conundrum. My only hope is that you, dear readers, are actual fans of my reviews. And if you are, I thank you. Seriously, you make writing these articles worthwhile.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
5.5 2 7 3 2 2
Graphics
5.5

It is getting hard for me to rank GBA graphics on a numerical score. I mean seriously… as long as the game isn’t an eyesore I can’t give it less than a five. I added an extra half point for a particularly amusing sprite animation of the player’s avatar (a big cow) riding a tiny bicycle.

Sound
2

The music that plays in this game is some of the most irritating and repetitive stuff I have ever heard. And when it is the only thing you hear most of the time (sound effects are quite muted) it really made me reach for the volume slider on my DS.

Control
7

There really is not much to control. Some mini-games have small control issues but overall, they function adequately.

Gameplay
3

I have never found a more abundant source of not-fun. One or two of the mini-games are slightly enjoyable (there’s a Frogger clone in here) but the rest are just bad. Things you buy in the store never seem to actually appear anywhere. The overworld is barren except for a few raccoons and coyotes you can “milk" to death if you even decide you want to fight them. It just isn’t fun. Seriously.

Lastability
2

The game will last as long as it takes gravity to pull it down into a garbage can.

Final
2

I hear the movie it is based on isn’t so hot either.

Summary

Pros
  • Caused me to evaluate myself and my desire to review licensed games
  • The game displays on the top screen of my DS, which means the system functions and I do not need to have it repaired
Cons
  • Boring, tedious, and vapid
  • Grating, annoying, irritating, repetitive music
  • Less substance than a nothing sandwich on thin air bread
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

KDR_11kSeptember 10, 2006

Where did the farmer go? Well, obviously the pigs overthrew and killed him.

Or, I could seriously be attempting to find those rare hidden gems that have either unwillingly been saddled with a license or actually attempt to expand said license in a meaningful way.

Oh, those treasures are easy to find, they are marked on the box as such. Or maybe that's the developer logo...

IceColdSeptember 10, 2006

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Where did the farmer go? Well, obviously the pigs overthrew and killed him.
You know, we had a play once when I was very young (probably about 6-7 years old) and way before I had read Animal Farm. It was about a lazy farmer who ate chocolate all day, and the animals of the farm chased him away or something. It ended right there, though. I am just realising that the play was probably based on Animal Farm, but our teacher gave us an extremely simplified version. Wow..

Aussie Ben PGCBen Kosmina, Staff AlumnusSeptember 10, 2006

I DEMAND A BETTER FUNERAL

Also, I need to see this bicycle bovine.

18 DaysSeptember 10, 2006

Yet another outstanding review from Deguello. I like how this one is covered in facts unlike the garbage, otehr sites that will remain nameless are churning out over this.

Quote

The unsavory aspects include the strangeness of having cows as boys but with udders that shoot milk; I found that slightly gross, besides the general anatomical wrongness of it all. Also, there is a bar in the barn where cows can drink fermented products. And, when the main character dies during the game, the other characters treat it very casually, and his son seems quite happy about being congratulated on his subsequent promotion. To be fair, though, all of these elements (except for the callous treatment of the death) are straight from the movie. If parents didn’t have a problem with the movie, they won’t with this game.

Quote

Sound: 7.5
The sound effects are good, and the music fits the barnyard theme well. The tunes are very catchy!

UltimatePartyBearSeptember 11, 2006

I read these reviews because one of life's simple pleasures is seeing a bad game slammed. The lower the game's score, the better the review.

Quote

The overworld is barren except for a few raccoons and coyotes you can “milk" to death....

Oh my. That sounds uncomfortable.

Great review, Deg.

Aussie Ben PGCBen Kosmina, Staff AlumnusSeptember 12, 2006

Also Deg, congratulations - you have given the lowest review score for the whole site. That honor currently goes to Charlie's Angels for GC, with a colossal score of 1.0.

DeguelloJeff Shirley, Staff AlumnusSeptember 12, 2006

That game most definitely deserves a 0.0

I would have given it that, but the game actually powered up, so I couldn't.

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Genre Action
Developer THQ

Worldwide Releases

na: Barnyard
Release Jul 25, 2006
PublisherTHQ
RatingEveryone

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