Archive for February, 2010

Restaurant City Running Garden Sale

Restaurant City developer Playfish is running a sale on garden expansions! But act fast, because the sale ends March 1st, at the end of the weekend.

Unlike most specials, the savings here are actually pretty significant – 50% off. The first outdoor garden expansion can now be purchased for 2500 coins instead of the standard 5000. I’m not a high enough level to see the price of any of the rest of the expansions, however. If you’re a high-level Restaurant City player and can fill in the blanks, let us know in the comments!

Gardens are a great way to add more variation and space for your restaurant – all players should want to buy the expansions eventually. If you have the money, might as well take advantage now, so you can save yourself some coins!

Happy Aquarium Adds Western Item Pack

Happy Aquarium from Crowdstar is taking players back to the Old West, with a set of Western-themed props and decorations. New items added today include a Cactus, a Hay Wagon, and a Broken Wheel. Crowdstar included an “and more!” on the end of their list, but I wasn’t able to find any additional Western items in the Happy Aquarium shop. Maybe they are still on the way.

All three items are available for coins. The cactus is 200, the wagon is 70, and the broken wheel is 60. Buy all three and maybe you can pretend you’re taking your fish on some kind of cattle drive. A fish drive, perhaps?

Petville Gift: Mini-Horsey

The fourth of ten Farmville-themed Petville gifts is up and live on the Petville gift tab: the Mini-Horsey! As with the previous three Farmville gifts, the Mini-Horsey is only available to gift to your friends for one day.

You can catch up on our previous coverage of this special Zynga cross-game promotion here:
Farmville Farmer
Farmer Gal

First Look: Bad Apples

Bad Apples from Metaversal puts a unique spin on the very well-known “match 3″ puzzle sub-genre. With a great, polished art style and innovative gameplay, this title could become a very big Facebook puzzle hit if Metaversal takes the time to build in social hooks.

The basic gameplay should be familar to puzzle game fans. Players swap two fruits, and when a set of three is matched, they explode and earn the player points. The hook is that the board is also littered with “bad apples.” Match these, and the player actually loses points. Match too many, and it’s game over.

So what’s the solution? After a few rounds I figured it out. A third type of fruit, a spiky crusher fruit, is also present. This fruit moves down its column, crushing the fruit immediately beneath it at the start of every turn. So the trick is to line up the bad apples underneath the crusher, so it will eliminate them for you, allowing you more room to match the good fruits. Strategic! Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulty levels are available.

The game looks great and is a lot of fun. So what’s the downside? Bad Apples on Facebook is essentially an advertisement – a demo of the iPhone version. The Facebook release isn’t limited – it includes all the iPhone features. It’s a full game. There is just zero Facebook integration. You can’t invite your friends, you can’t compare your score to theirs… there are no social hooks of any kind.

Bad Apples is fun and free, and definitely worth playing. But without any social hooks it is unlikely to ever become a big hit. Fingers crossed that Metaversal realizes this and is prepping some Facebook-specific improvements.

First Look: Island Life

Island Life from Metaplace is a new challenger to the Facebook farming crown. As the name suggests, rather than using a traditional farm setting, players are given their own little tropical island to to grow and decorate.

The most noticeable differentiator between Island Life and its peers is the game’s art style. Most Facebook games go for a more cartoony, stylized 2D look. Island Life’s style is a stark contrast. It isn’t accurate to say that it’s “realistic,” but… almost. The decorations and other objects in Island Life have a 3D look that resembles plastic, or almost clay-like. If anyone played Donkey Kong Country back in the day, or Puzzle Pirates more recently, I think there are strong visual similarities to those two titles.

Other than the art style, Island Life should feel familiar to veteran Facebook farmers. You grow short or long term crops, harvest to turn a profit, plow the fields, and then repeat. Animals and trees can be purchased for bigger lump sums of cash, and can be harvested repeatedly. A wide variety of tropical decorations are available in the shop.

In fact, my biggest criticism of the title is that it doesn’t seem to do much to innovate or differentiate itself on a gameplay level. Island Life is fundamentally sound, but with literally dozens of Farming titles available on Facebook, any new challenger needs to provide a unique take on the genre in order to truly break out.

Still, if the screenshots below are attractive to you, you could do a lot worse than to give Island Life a spin. The game is being updated at a fast clip, and the core user experience is enjoyable. The game is growing at a modest pace – a month ago it had 15,000 daily players. Today that number has more than doubled, to 32,000 daily players.

Restaurant City Gives Fans a Non-Mystery Box

Restaurant City is probably the most generous Facebook game out there in terms of fan giveaways. Developer Playfish gives away items on the game’s fan page every day – sometimes more than once throughout the day. Sometimes it’s something small like an orange or another ingredient. Other times, it is something more significant (the dragon and white tiger come to mind).

So, today, fans were understandably excited when Playfish announced a new mystery box was being given out. The only problem? It just contains a strawberry. For everyone. Every single person that opens the crate gets… a strawberry. Kinda weird, right? Why create a mystery box and build up the mystique, just for it to contain a common ingredient?

Maybe Playfish is prepping the launch of a bunch of Strawberry-centric recipes :) You can open your “mystery” box and receive your strawberry by clicking here.

Treasure Madness Running Gold Rush Special

If you’re anything like me, one unexpected side effect of all the limited-time maps is a severe depletion of your gold reserves! Some of the maps have expensive heavy tiles, and if you want to get the maps done in time, you have no choice but to dig them.

Treasure Madness developer zSlide was apparently thinking the same thing, and decided to give us a bonus. For this weekend only, players can participate in the Gold Rush minigame once every 2 hours instead of once a day! If you’re able to stick around a computer and take advantage every couple hours, all that gold could really add up. It’s possible to earn over 1000 GP with the new Gold Rush minigame.

Of course, the game being skill-based has its drawbacks, too. On my last gold rush I got too close to the edge of the screen and lost right away – I only earned 30 GP. At least I’ll be able to try again in a couple hours, instead of being required to wait until tomorrow.

This promotion runs until the end of the month, meaning until Sunday night at Midnight. Thanks, zSlide!

PetVille Releases Pet Wings

Petville developer Zynga released a new pet accessory earlier tonight that redefines “premium” – Wings! Petville players that truly want their pet to stand out from the crowd now buy a set of animated wings.

Well, technically, players don’t buy the wings. They buy a mystery crate, which is guaranteed to contain one of the six new pairs of wings. There are actually two crates – each containing six wing designs. One contains “rugged” wings, the other “elegant” wings. Why not just sell the wings directly? For such a major purchase that is likely to be such a significant part of your pet’s “look,” it seems unfair that players can’t preview their item before they buy it.

The Wing Mystery Crate costs 25 Petville Cash, or about $2.25. Interestingly, the Petville shop states that an “interactive closet” will be included with the first set of wings you buy. If anyone out there takes the plunge and makes the purchase, leave a comment and let us know the details on this closet. Is it just a way to swap out different sets of wings, or is it something more?

My Town Adds Pool, Mall, & More

My Town from Broken Bulb Studios is on a roll. The game has almost 700,000 daily players, and Broken Bulb is adding so many items that beginning this week My Town is being updated twice a week instead of just once.

This week’s second update added a Mall, a Public Pool (with epic water slide), a medium urban home, and a bowling alley. All in all, a nice and varied mix. All the items are nice, but the pool is undoubtedly the coolest. Although it’s not exactly like any public pool I’ve ever seen. If Broken Bulb Studios was interested in true-to-life accuracy it would be packed with about 400 screaming kids.

Happy Pets’ Lost Blue Duck

Happy Pets developer Crowdstar sure knows how to pull on a person’s heartstrings. “Lost animals” are nothing new to pet, farm, or aquarium games, but recently game companies have been making these animals more and more pathetic-looking, making it that much harder to click “No, I won’t save you.” I mean, just look at how sad this duck is:

Can you really say no to that face? I think the only animal I’ve seen that looked more sad was the Platypus in Happy Aquarium, another Crowdstar game.

Anyway, for the unfamiliar, if a lost animal turns up in your Happy Pets home, you will have the opportunity to “save” it by posting a Facebook news feed item. All your Happy Pets-playing friends can then click on that news feed post to get a blue duck of their own. If you want a blue duck for yourself you’ll have to keep an eye on your news feed, and hope one of your friends posts a notice.