Farm Diaries

"There are three easy ways of losing money - racing is the quickest, women the most pleasant, and farming the most certain."

So said Field Marshal Jeffery Amherst, the British soldier infamously associated with dishing out smallpox-ridden blankets to native Canadians.

We mention him at the beginning of this review for two reasons. The first is that he was bang on about farming being a waste of wonga, most potently with regards to the pile of steaming manure that is Farm Diaries.

And the second is that a bout of smallpox might just be preferable to any amount of time spent playing this broken FarmVille wannabe game.

Rainbow road

Upon starting Farm Diaries, you'll be confronted with a brisk and uninformative tutorial hosted by your bonny tutor, the cowboy hat-wearing Rainbow.

She'll walk you through the general premise of the game, to sow, fertilise, harvest crops, and raise various animals in order to buy more varieties of said farming goods. She's pretty vague about more important elements, however - such as the control system.

You navigate your initial 4x3 grid patches of fertile land via a pointer, which you can move around with the '2', '4', '6' and '8' keys, with '5' selecting your highlighted action. This could be planting seeds, weeding, or quenching your plant's thirst with H2O.

That might sound simple enough, but the range of menus is overbearing, with icons lined up to the left and bottom of the screen.

It's a mess of a system, and demands a certain degree of patience to fully get to grips with.

Harm Diaries

A press of the '0' key will shoot you over to your animal ranch and away from the main farm, but things don't get much better.

Trying to isolate the individual pixel necessary to highlight your tiny, bobbing chickens - and thereby feed them - is a practice that's seemingly designed to vex.

On the bright side, the colour scheme is jaunty and the limited animations are vivid and playful, though the horrendous music will drive you to search out for the 'mute' option pretty rapidly.

Throw in a couple of bugs, such as getting trapped indefinitely in an empty postbox menu, (I never did manage to open the in-game post without the game crashing) and you've got a sure-fire way to prove the late Lord Amherst right.

Farm Diaries attempts to tap into the same sense of accomplishment that FarmVille and its various clones offer, but it lacks those titles' social features.

More potently, though, it's not fun to play at any point, being a total chore from start to finish.

Farm Diaries

Farm Diaries is another colourful take on the FarmVille form, but it fails to entertain at pretty much every turn
Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman
Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman
When Matt was 7 years old he didn't write to Santa like the other little boys and girls. He wrote to Mario. When the rotund plumber replied, Matt's dedication to a life of gaming was established. Like an otaku David Carradine, he wandered the planet until becoming a writer at Pocket Gamer.