Developer: Blue Tongue
Release Date: August 1, 2006
There has always been suspicion as to what goes on when we are not around, and such paranoia can certainly make the imagination run wild. Pixar answered one part of the question in Toy Story by discussing what might happen when we stop playing with our toys. Now Nickelodeon tackles the fantasy in Barnyard by seeing what goes on with our farm animals while we're sleeping.
As you might expect, the night life of a farm animal is not at all boring. More so than any drunken human, they know how to have a good time. That's why your main objective as the new cow on the farm is to get the sweetest setup in the barn for the most rockin' nighttime parties. The items you need to obtain range from pool tables to kegs to lamps, but of course, these party decorations come at a price.
Throughout the game, you will be required to complete missions given to you by your various barnyard friends. The game is run on a day/night system, so you must complete any daytime missions before nightfall and vice versa. Most of these missions reward you with Gopher Bucks to spend at the shop in Gopher Hill, which is only open at night. However, while you initially start out in just the barnyard, you can earn gate keys in some missions, which permit access to different parts of the land.
Unfortunately, most of these missions are (and please excuse the pun) utterly boring and simple. Some may involve you finding ingredients for the pig so that he can cook more food to fuel his obesity. Another mission entails you finding and delivering flowers for Otis because he is too much of a wuss to speak to a girl. The most boring one is definitely the metal detector mission. By the request of a farm animal who dares to call himself your friend, you get to methodically comb an area looking for certain items. Your "friends" on the farm must really despise you to be sending you on missions like this.
On the other hand, there is one notable mission that really takes the cake, and that's the Sharp Squirter mission. In these missions, you actually get to squirt things with your udders, which both amazed and amused me, considering this is a children's game. You normally have timed sessions where you squirt all the tin cans in the area, but once you obtain the sunglasses, you can squirt whoever you want, whenever you want. It's strangely appealing to go around squirting everyone you see. What confused me the most was the fact that I chose a boy cow for my character … and he still had udders.
Another odd addition to the game is the bike on which your cow can ride. Once you start unlocking more gates, it becomes essential to traveling across the land. You can press L1 to speed up and Circle to jump, and while in the air, L2 or R2 can be pressed to perform tricks. Now, this is no Dave Mirra, but it is pretty funny to see a cow riding a bike. It … just makes about as much sense as a male cow with udders.
As boring as Barnyard's missions may be to adults, younger gamers who enjoyed the movie will find something to like in this title. There is some replay value here; as mentioned earlier, you can combine different foods found to make different dishes. However, in order to make these dishes, you must find recipe rocks, which are scattered around the game world. The recipes are basically a way to help you gain money at the Gopher Shop, since prepared food sells for a higher price than raw foodstuffs.
Aside from recipe rocks, you can also replay many missions you completed in Story Mode by selecting Antics from the main menu. Some of the antics include golf, pool, Sharp Squirter, and bike or car races. Most of the enjoyment only lasts for a few minutes, but this could've been extended, had the developers included some type of multiplayer mode for some of the antics. Lastly, if you reach hidden areas in the world, you can unlock bonus features. These are usually just animations or art, but it is kind of neat to see the game's characters in their concept stages.
One of the most frustrating things about Barnyard is definitely its load times. Between each mission – and occasionally when you pull up the map screen – it feels like it takes an eternity to load. This becomes tedious when you simply wish to check where you need to go.
While the loading times make you want to pull out your hair, the graphics are average and don't break any new ground. Considering that this is a movie tie-in that needed to reach the shelves at the same time as the film, however, the visual quality is more than adequate.
The sound, unfortunately, didn't fare quite so well. The twangy country of the barnyard never ceases to make you want to rip the disc straight out of the system. It never stops. Additionally, the ratio of text-to-voice is greatly unbalanced; it seems that in most conversations, only the first and last lines are actually voiced.
While Barnyard has a few shining points such as the bike and Sharp Squirter, it just isn't entertaining enough to account for a purchase, unless you have children who are really, really into the movie.