Overall Score 60%
Farmer Joe's Matching Yard
Farmer Joe's Matching Yard is a clever variation on columns from South Africa. A matrix of different farm products is presented to the player, and the aim is to match identical pairs of symbols by being able to trace a clear path between the two. Do this and the pair vanish and the ones above fall down. Clear all tiles and a new level starts.
On the right side of the screen, Farmer Joe requests certain pairs that can be obtained in order to get bonus points. This improves the game play a little bit, but not much because clearing a level is generally more important than points in games like this.
The game is very easy to learn to play. A tutorial is included but it's not really necessary, and younger children may enjoy the game.
The graphics are well drawn, and the tiles are sometimes animated. It is obvious what each item is. The icons are squares with English text inside, and the font is a little below medium size but still clear enough to read. The farm produce is both arable (crops) and animals. There are not many graphical effects that the top end of puzzle games have, things like animated menus and hover images for the icons are missing. Those things are usually secondary to gameplay, but they do help that with all important first impression that a player receives and most of the games that compete with this one do look better.
If there was any sound it didn't work on my computer; my speakers stayed silent. There are some sound icons in the bottom left hand corner of the screen but they didn't seem to do anything and the brief accompanying readme file did not mention them. Browsing the game folder I found a few wav files of farm animal sounds, which were of average quality.
There are some attempts to add variety to the gameplay. The default game presents the player with levels that grow in complexity. A timed game option, and one where new tiles appear also help, but even at its most frenetic the game tends to suffer from a lack of depth. After the first few levels not much changes.
In conclusion, Farmer Joe's is a well presented game that is easy to learn. The central idea of the game works well. There is not much depth to the game, and the farm theme and simple gameplay means it could appeal to younger children. A hardcore gamer would probably be disappointed with the simplicity of the game, and even in the area of similar puzzle games there are many better looking and playing games out there for the same price.
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