Review Date: July 6, 2010
Developer: Alawar Melesta
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment
Genre: Time Management
When the first Farm Frenzy 3 was launched last Summer, it was a refreshing change of pace. It simplified the time management series, making it faster and easier to understand. But after a series of spin-offs, the formula is clearly losing its magic. Farm Frenzy 3: Madagascar is the fourth such spin-off and it does little to advance the series forward. In fact, at times it's actually hard to tell if it's even a new game.
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
For those unfamiliar with the Farm Frenzy 3 games, they all follow the same basic formula. You go through a series of stages, each with specific goals that need to be accomplished within a certain amount of time. Completing these goals involves doing a number of farming, and oddly enough baking, related tasks. You'll have to feed animals so that they'll produce eggs, and those eggs can then be used to produce flour, which can be used to make cookies, and so on. There are different types of buildings and animals, each of which has its own unique characteristics.
Madagascar offers up a number of new animals and buildings, but calling them new is really a bit misleading. Instead, they're merely visual changes, as the animals and buildings serve the exact same functions as before. Guinea birds, for example, are exactly the same as chickens, as they need to eat grass to live and will hatch eggs. Likewise, the bear, which can scare away all your animals if you don't stop it in time, has simply been replaced with an orangutan.
Like the last few games in the series, Madagascar features a super-animal that is very costly but very helpful. In this case, it's an elephant that can mine for diamonds. But while this sounds new and interesting, again, it's merely a re-skinned version of a previous animal, serving the same function as the oil bear in Farm Frenzy 3: Russian Roulette.
At Least Something's New
Madagascar at least has a unique story, which begins with series heroine Scarlett on vacation. She decides to go on a tour of the titular island, but decides against using a tour guide. Naturally, she ends up lost, but happens upon a animal reserve in need of a helping hand. Scarlett puts her farming skills to good use in order to raise enough money to help all of the sick animals.
But while the story itself is just about the only new thing in the game, it's also one of the smallest and least necessary parts. As with the rest of the series, the story serves as little more than a set-up for the action and isn't necessary at all for you to enjoy the game. You can even skip the infrequent cut-scenes if you want to.
The Bottom Line
Unless you're a huge fan of the series, it's tough to recommend Farm Frenzy 3: Madagascar. While it does offer quite a bit of content -- with 90 new stages to beat -- it's all stuff you've seen before. So unless you're desperately in need of a Farm Frenzy fix and can overlook the unmistakable sense of deja vu you'll experience, you'll probably be better off waiting for the inevitable Farm Frenzy 4.