For almost as long as we can remember, games have been turning every day, boring chores into a fun way to spend your time. Whether it's Animal Crossing's insatiable love of weeding, clothes shopping in pretty much every role-playing game ever or Harvest Moon's farming, almost everything is better in game form. We say almost everything, as in My Life on a Farm 3D, nothing is more fun than in real life. In fact, very little is any fun at all.
As you can probably tell from the title, My Life On A Farm 3D is all about running a farm - harvesting crops, tending to animals, driving tractors - that sort of thing. Much like Harvest Moon, you've moved out of the city and into an old farm, planning to make a living off the land instead. But sadly, that's where the comparison with our beloved farming/flirting hybrid ends, because My Life On A Farm 3D isn't all it's cracked up to be.
While you might expect the bread and butter of a farming game like this to be, you know, farming - spending the majority of your time out on the field, toiling over some turnips, that sort of thing - you'd be wrong. Harvesting fruit and vegetables here is nothing more than a tap-fest, and doesn't actually involve all that much farming, as the relevant crops, bushes and trees simply exist on your farm without needing to be sown, tended to or even watered. For example, as you scroll around your farm, you'll notice trees with honeycombs dangling from them, which you simply need to tap to harvest. Assuming they're ready to harvest, of course - because, in it's infinite wisdom, My Life On A Farm 3D shows the same honeycomb dangling from the tree whether it's ready to be picked or not. Showing at least an 'in progress' form of the item, or even simply not showing it at all until it was ready would have been much less frustrating and random - but hey, why make things simple?
Certain crops that can't be foraged need to be harvested with your tractor, via a rather dull mini-game in which you steer a tractor through a field and run over the crops to harvest them. Stuck driving around a pre-set course in the field - a field which is largely empty - bumping off the "walls" as you go, thanks to some rather awkward Touch Screen controls, this is about as much fun as the game gets. In fact, it's so much fun, the developers have actually had to limit tractor-related activities to once a day. Any more, and it'd probably melt your brain with excitement.
But perhaps the most confusing aspect of the game is your animals. According to the level we were playing, we apparently had a chicken - in the menu in the game, it definitely listed one chicken - although where it was, exactly, was another question entirely. Several times a day we'd have randomers wander around our farm, asking us for various items in exchange for money - you know the sort, just your average passer-by who wants "25 honeycomb and 5 mayonnaise" or "27 fish and 3 mayonnaise". If we'd have been able to find a chicken, we could have done a roaring trade in mayonnaise, yet the little clucker was nowhere to be seen. Under the tree, in the stream, even in the hen house - we looked everywhere, but we couldn't find the damn thing.
Of course, it seemingly isn't long until word spreads around the local village, and the pranksters start to show up. In walks one innocent looking idiot, who strolls up the counter and asks for - you guessed it - one chicken! Trying to hide the rage, we turned round and said "Unfortunately I have to decline this order", as she mumbled something about "Thanks! Cheerio!" under her breath, and left. And then it was back to the search. High and low, past ice skating cats, disappearing fish and terrible tractors, there's no sign of the chicken - but after a while of running round, and a fair bit of button mashing, hoping something might happen, we stumble across how to find a chicken coop, and quickly hand over our cash, expecting it to come with a free specimen - but there's no such luck. Now with a hen house with no hens, a chicken coop with no chickens, and customers asking for all manner of egg related goods, we were in a bit of a pickle.
As luck would have it, one day a lowly chicken salesman stumbled into our backwater farm, with a noble beast called 'Sultan' for sale - despite the fact he's apparently in 'bad health', he's only $12, and with mayonnaise piling orders up, we decide beggars can't be choosers. With any luck, we can sell it on to that berk of a prankster, only to have Sultan pop his royal clogs the next day.
With a chicken finally in our chicken coop, we head straight to harvest some eggs, which, of course, is done by tapping some nests - but, like a lot of things in life, it's only exciting for a few seconds, and before too long, we have all the eggs we can get for the next arbitrary period of time. Luckily, harvested eggs can then be 'cooked' into mayonnaise by using the recipes you can buy from the cafeteria in the nearby (deserted) town - there's a fairly impressive list of things you can make too, we guess, but it all just seems so... pointless?
If there's one thing that does lighten the mood a little in My Life On A Farm 3D, though, it's how little effort's gone into translating the dialogue - from the preamble to the first mission telling you how much "the farmers in your area are looking forward in meeting you!" to the unusually cheery replies when you turn down someone's request, My Life On A Farm 3D's conversational skills leave a lot to be desired. And, as an added throwback for TREVA's existing fan(s), there's even a subtle reference to their previous game in there, the pet hotel sim Me & My Pets 3D. After all, what other possible reason could there be for My Life On A Farm 3D mentioning how "the animals in your hotel are going to sleep" as the sun goes down on your farm? A little Easter egg, we're sure, and not a line left over from the last game.
And the thing is, if this were a £2.99 eShop game, it wouldn't be too much of an issue. Yes, it wouldn't be all that much fun, yes, it wouldn't make the game any better to play, but at least you wouldn't have had to spend £25 for the privilege. Yes, that's right, this is a game that retails, eShop only, for TWENTY FIVE POUNDS. TWENTY FIVE SQUID. Even without taking into account that it's $19.99 in America, and therefore should be more like £15 over here (a price that would still feel like daylight robbery), that's still an insane price to pay for a game that, honestly, feels like it's been put together by the lunch experience boy in his first week on the job.
If you have a farming itch you really need to scratch, there's a billion other games that are more worthy of My Life On A Farm 3D's insane £24.99 asking price - such as the recently released Rune Factory 4, or any on of the multitude of Harvest Moons. Instead, what you're left with is a game that's about as user friendly as a chocolate teapot, and about as entertaining as, well, shovelling manure in real life. Especially for a game aimed at kids, this is inexcusably bad. Here's hoping TREVA can take this back to the drawing board, and put together something a bit more impressive for their next game.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS