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Oct 10, 2011

An udderly bovine game

Game Category: Action - Adventure, Kids
Developer / Distributor: Blue Tongue Entertainment / THQ
Release Date: 1 Aug 2006
Rating: ESRB - Everyone (10+)

Nickelodean's Barnyard: The Original Party Animals was a film that had some success back in 2006. It featured a large cast of talking animals featuring cows, pigs, chickens, and even a dog, a mouse, and a mule. All of them live together on a farm and absolutely love behaving like humans (by walking on two legs and talking), especially when their vegan farmer is away.

Released at about the same time as the movie, Barnyard by Blue Tongue Entertainment and THQ, goes off on a different tangent by not following the script of the movie. Instead, you get to play an entertaining open-ended action adventure style game. In the game, you will control the newest member of the farm - a handsome male or pretty female cow. You get to explore the farm and its surroundings, manage the interior decoration for the barn (they're party animals after all), and even stop raccoons and coyotes from stealing from the farmer.

There truly is nothing more enjoyable than controlling a cow who walks upright and squirts milk from his udder like a machine gun toting hero. Come on in to the Barnyard... oh yeah, and watch out for the mailman, we wouldn't want him to see us walking on two feet now, would we?

Welcome to the Barnyard!
Game Play
After starting up Barnyard, you will see three options that matter on the main menu:
  • New Game - This option will start the main game. You can create 4 profiles here.
  • Bonus - This is where you access the art gallery and animations, two areas that feature 18 rewards. Play the game to unlock your rewards.
  • Antics - You can enter Antics to play any of the mini-games you have already unlocked in the game.
Barnyard is a wickedly funny single player game that takes you on a great adventure. To start off in the game, you have to first create your character. You get the choice of choosing to be either male or female. You then choose the skin of your cow by picking from several different breeds. Once you have named your character, you will start your adventure proper.

Yes, I'd love to be an American
You will be learning how to play the game as you progress. I have counted 10 distinct areas in Barnyard that I want to cover to make sure you know what you get in the game. They are: Chatting with characters, Completing Missions, Learning to shoot, Playing mini-games, Saving your game and resting, Using your map, Collecting stuff, Using your inventory, Maintaining the barn, and Unlocking new areas.

Chatting with characters: Like almost any adventure game out there, Barnyard employs an exclamation point that appears over the head of a character. This signals to you that the animal wishes to talk to you. Most often, characters will want to tell you something, ask a favour of you, or challenge you to a mini-game.

Who shall you talk with first - the cow, the pig, or the dog?
Completing missions: Missions include completing tasks for a character or winning a mini-game. Take for example your first task-based mission: You are required to find a recipe and to look for ingredients, after that you must bring your ingredients to the kitchen to get an apple pie. Simple enough! Completing missions, will unlock more missions and characters to chat with.

Learning to shoot: You will need to put on a cool pair of shades to become a rampaging bovine wielding your udder that shoots out milk like a machine-gun. If you run out of ammunition, I mean milk, recharge yourself by grabbing milk bottles. To be a Super Squirter, you'll need to hold down the right mouse button to lock on a target, and the left mouse button to spray your milk.

The mini-games are truly creative and such great fun!
Playing mini-games: When it comes to mini-games, I think Barnyard does a good job of delivering variety in the handful of amusing things you need to do. Your first mini-game would be to play Mud Jumpers with Pig and his friends. This involves jumping over a spinning pipe or kicking the pipe to knock down your opponents. Every kick makes the pipe spin even faster. I'll leave you to find out about the other mini-games. If you do well in a game, you will be awarded a star. Get the most stars to be the champion in the Barnyard.

Saving your game and resting: Right next to where you start the game is a shack that allows you to save the game. This is the only place where you can save your game and rest to regain stamina, so do expect to find yourself heading back all the way here to do just that. Resting also changes the game from day to night and vice versa. If you can't find anybody to give you a mission, it's best you head back here to rest.

Here's the Barnyard and environs
Using your map: You have a map that shows the lay of the land. With the ability to zoom in a level, plus handy icons that mark significant locations, this is a feature you will be accessing pretty often. The entire world is so large that it will take you a couple minutes to walk from one end to the other. Fortunately, you have your trusty bicycle to speed travel up.

Collecting stuff: There's lot of stuff you can find in the game including notes placed on trees and recipes hidden under rocks. You also get gopher bucks for completing mini-games or missions, as well as gold rush tokens. Notes are useful game hints that you just must read while recipes are used to concoct lovely food and drinks; you'll need to get ingredients first though. Gold rush tokens enable a bonus event that allows you to pick up even more gopher bucks.

Using your inventory: You have an inventory that is used to carry game quest items like your sunglasses (for entering shoot mode), your cookbook and mocktail (for holding recipes), your score card (to see where you stand in the mini-games), your flower pack (to hold your bouquet), your metal detector (to go searching for treasure), and so on.

Partying inside the barn
Maintaining the barn: It seems that during the night, the animals will head to the barn to party. The barn starts off pretty bare. Head over to Gopher Hill to spend your gopher bucks on new items, refreshments, furniture, decorations, party gear, and fun & games. If you manage to acquire everything from Gopher Hill for your barn, you will be declared the coolest Party Animal around.

Unlocking new areas: After completing several missions and mini-games, you will be rewarded with a key to unlock new areas on the map. These are kind of like momentous achievements that expand your adventure to even greater heights. New areas have more stuff waiting for you to find as well as new mini-games waiting to be uncovered. Luckily, you can ride your bicycles to move around quickly.

Ever seen cows racing on bicycles?
In case you were wondering at all the poor quality in the screenshots, then you must realize that the game is locked at 800 x 600 mode. Moreover, forget about finding settings to adjust anti-aliasing, shaders, and so on; there just isn't any advanced graphical features. And, even the textures aren't that detailed.

Despite these shortcomings, the world of Barnyard is not so bad after all - especially for it's intended audience - kids. The terrain has many features including hills, grottos, streams, lakes, and more. There are also a great lot of different objects decorating the landscape, so you are never bored by a feeling of sameness in the game.

The stars of the game would be the many different animals. Their animations are slick and nicely done. The cows look utterly hilarious with their udders sticking out the way they do while standing on two feet. I also thought the pig was great - he's a cute porker.

Yes ladies, I know it's nice to get a suntan now and then
The music and sound is very good in Barnyard. Although I would have preferred some longer pieces and more variation to the pieces, I still found the music to be very addictive tunes that will remain ingrained in my head for quite some time.

The sound effects will make you feel like you are in a farm; you'll hear birds chirping, and frogs croaking during the day, while night time brings a chorus of crickets. Then, there's brooks babbling, the sounds of your bicycle, as well as interesting sound effects in the mini-games.

Finally, as for the voice overs, most of the actors only say the first opening line in their dialogue. Be prepared to spend some time reading.

Yeah, right!
  • Barnyard features a lengthy adventure with a huge world to explore. It's a great follow-up (or introduction) to the wonderful movie from Nickelodean.
  • There are many interesting characters to interact with.
  • The mini games are quite fun, but nothing too ground breaking. Some of the key highlights include mud jumping, teasing the mailman, and defending a vegetable patch from racoons.
  • There really is lots of great stuff to find and collect.
  • Side activities are a ton of fun. They include collecting recipes and getting a farm animal to help you bake (or mix) them, collecting gold rush tokens and so on.
  • The sound effects and music have that hill billy charm and light-hearted quality to it.
  • Easy going fun for kids.

One of the best mini-games has you teasing the mail man
  • The game was designed only for a single player. You can't play any of the mini-games against friends.
  • Not enough variety in terms of the mini-games. 
  • Kids may not appreciate the mini-games of pool or nine-hole golf.
  • No serious opposition (boss monsters) until very late into the game.

The game of Gopher Golf can get quite frustrating
Barnyard is one of those games that has a place in my heart. It's a charming little piece of entertaining software from Blue Tongue Entertainment that brings to life the animals from the animated movie by Nickelodean. It's design is elegant and the freedom to do anything you wish is excellent; even abandoning the main quest and opting to play your unlocked mini-games is possible.

If you are a parent, this is a safe buy for your kid. The only thing that may be hard to accept is that there's a couple of misplaced mini-games and lots of text to read. Other than that, the humorous animal antics will most definitely bring joy and laughter into your lives.

Get yourself a copy of Barnyard today. PC Adventure Games)

Daily PC Game Review Score: 7.5 / 10
Review Date: 10 Oct 2011


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