Archive for February, 2010

Island Paradise Items & Upgrades

Island Paradise developer Meteor Games released a balanced update to their hit tropical farming title, earlier this evening. New clothes, new decorations, new upgrades, and more.

It’s a little tough to know exactly what is new and what isn’t (like My Town and a few other Facebook games, the new items are never highlighted in the Island Paradise shop). But, I believe the Chef Hat and Chef Shirt are both new clothing options. Two limited-edition decorations, a washed-up fridge and a Candlelit table, have also been added to the shop.

A new island upgrade, Windswept Cay, has been added for those players looking for more island space. And finally, the cooking system Island Paradise introduced a few weeks ago has been tweaked. Recipes themselves can now be leveled-up for those players hoping to become a master chef.

Restaurant City Adds Las Vegas Item Pack

Restaurant City developer Playfish decided to bring a little bit of Las Vegas to players of their hit food business sim. A new batch of Las Vegas-themed casino items were added to the Restaurant City shop, earlier today.

The item pack isn’t as epic (either in theme or sheer volume of additions) as some others that have hit Restaurant City in 2010, but there’s still lots of fun additions. New items include Red Chip, Blue Chip, and Backgammon tables and chairs, a functioning slot machine, a pool table, giant dice, a roulette wheel, new card suit floor and wall patterns, and more.

Most of the decorations are for sale for coins, although a handful are being sold for PF Cash. The Slot Machine is clearly the most desirable item of the bunch – it actually earns your restaurant money when patrons use it. It’s also the most expensive item of the bunch, at 10 PF Cash.

Petville Gift: Farmville Farmer Gal

Day Two of Petville’s 10-day Farmville gift extravaganza is here! For those that missed yesterday’s update, Petville developer Zynga is releasing 10 Farmville-themed gifts on the Petville gift page. One new gift per day. Today’s gift? The Farmville Farmer Gal!

In truth, I’m getting this update online a little late. If you’re just now being reminded about this limited-time gift, there probably isn’t much time left. Day 3′s Farmville gift will likely be put online shortly.

Remember, these items are gifts, so if you are trying to collect them for yourself, your best bet is to find a reliable Petville-playing friend to send you one each day.

Happy Aquarium Adds New Props

Happy Aquarium developer Crowdstar released a small handful of new decorations to their fish-raising title earlier today. One thing I am learning about Crowdstar compared to their peers is that they update their titles with new items more often, but each update tends to be a little smaller. This batch of new props is no exception, with just six new items to choose from.

Players now have access to Purple Daisy Coral, Yellow Daisy Coral, Resting Fairy Statue, Astronaut, Animated Radar, and an Atlantean Foot Statue. Interestingly, the foot statue has four toes, just like the four-toed statue added to another Crowdstar game, Happy Island. Apparently there are some LOST fans on the Crowdstar art team.

I also find it interesting that Crowdstar added a few space-themed decorations so soon after Fishville introduced a space item set. Maybe it’s like Hollywood, where two movies with the same premise are often released right at the same time?

Tiki Farm Adds Penguin Gift

Tiki Farm developer Playdom introduced a new giftable animal, earlier today: a penguin! The cute (and frankly region-inappropriate) little guy can be sent via the game’s gift page. Isn’t he going to be hot living on everyone’s tropical Tiki Farms? Maybe he’s one of those warm-air penguins like in that penguin surfing movie. Although, let’s be honest, this isn’t any more inappropriate than the Tiger and Bear Cub animals Zynga recently added to Farmville.

In any case, the penguin is fully-animated, and even does a cute penguin dance. You can’t get the full effect just looking at a picture – you have to see him in motion. Playdom appears to agree – they uploaded a video of the antarctic animal to their fan page. Click here to watch the short clip.

Happy Pets Yard Contest Winners Announced

At the same time that Happy Pets developer Crowdstar introduced yards, they launched a yard decorating contest. Aspiring exterior decorators could compete to see who could create the best Happy Pets yard. Not much was up for grabs, however. Rather than award pet cash to the winners, Crowdstar instead just promised them a spotlight on the Happy Pets fan page. Still, Happy Pets has 3.5 million fans – pretty heavy stuff to imagine that many people seeing something you created!

Today, the winners were revealed. We have the gallery below. What do you think? If you had entered do you think you could have done a better job?

Farmville Adds New Hot Rod Vehicles

Almost overlooked in yesterday’s Farmville update was the addition of a new Hot Rod Harvester and Hot Rod Seeder. Like their brother (cousin?) the Hot Rod Tractor, players unlock these items when they have completed specific tasks in another Zynga game – Mafia Wars. If you don’t see either of these items yet, never fear. Zynga appears to be rolling them out in stages. Some players can purchase them now, and some can’t. Patience is a virtue!

In any case, The Hot Rod Seeder requires players to gain 5 Mafia Wars levels from the time they purchased the Hot Rod Tractor. The Harvester’s requirements are a little steeper – players can only purchase it if they have gained access to Mafia Wars: Bangkok. Bangkok is fairly easy to access, but it requires more of a time commitment than just gaining a few levels. I wonder if we can expect further cross-promotional efforts along these lines in the future?

Cafe World Adds Prehistoric Stone Age Items

Cafe World developer Zynga went old school with this week’s item pack. VERY old school. A complete set of prehistoric, stone-age items are now available in the Cafe World shop. Like all item packs, all the bases are covered – new stoves, chairs, decorations, wall coverings, etc.

New additions include stone walls and floors, a baby T-Rex, a Sabretooth tiger, Roasting meat, a stone window and door, a wall torch, and more.

Even some of the simplest decorations, like the torch, adds a tremendous amount of personality to a restaurant. For those that want to eschew subtlety, you can always go with the animal-fur table or chairs, the piano made out of carved stone, etc.

A note about Cafe World pricing – I’m still not happy with it. Charging for premium, high-impact decorations makes a lot of sense, but charging for special tables and chairs? Not cool. And I’ll explain why. Cafe World is different than Farmville, Petville, Fishville, or any of Zynga’s other titles, in that players will want a bunch of the same decoration. When you spend real money on a grand window in Petville or a pink barn in Farmville, players don’t need a dozen of them. But in Cafe World, tables and chairs are staples. If you want a stone age restaurant, you have to buy them. And the only Stone Age table costs Cafe Cash. Buying one would be one thing, but buying a dozen or more?

When it comes to basic decorations that players will want many copies of, if Zynga insists on charging for these staples, they could at least allow users to place as many duplicates as they like, with a single Cafe Cash charge. It’s not like they are supply-constrained.

Treasure Madness Adds Maps, Treasures, and Upgrades

Treasure Madness developer zSlide added a handful of new maps and treasures to their hit treasure digging title yesterday, but they also made a change people have been clamoring for for months now: Level 2 equipment upgrades and minigame helpers can now be purchased with gold instead of with the purchasable MU$ currency. But now that players have finally gotten what they wanted, I suspect they might be thinking they didn’t want it after all. These are powerful upgrades, so they aren’t cheap. I barely have enough gold left to afford even the cheapest of them!

As for new maps, there are nine total. Seven are standard maps in the Inca series – players gain access to them beginning at level 94. Nazca Lines, Inca Ruins, Old Inca Road, Ruined Road, Lost Meadow, Cross Roads, and Cuzco Ruins. Two limited-time Mysterious Series maps, Anchor Island and Bottle Island, were also added. One is for sale for MU$, the other for gold. They’re only available for three more days, and Mysterious-series islands contain the rarest treasures in the game, so this treasure digger suggests you focus your energies on these two first!

zSlide also mentioned “20 new collections” have been added. It seems possible that the developer meant to say 20 new treasures. It’s a big difference – 20 new collections, if true, would mean there are 100 brand-new treasures to collect. Five for each collection.

Finally, rounding-out this update was a few small minigame enhancements. The bonus minigame was revised again to remove the empty middle space. In fact, a NEW fruit was added – the red chili! And now players have a choice of two Gold Rush minigames. They play the same, but one features spiders, the other roaming skeleton hands.

SPP Ranch Adds Pirate Items

Up-and-Coming pet-raising Facebook game SPP Ranch from Slide added a variety of pirate-themed items, earlier today. I have my gripes about the game, but I looooove its art style. The pirate items are a crazy mix of realistic and cartoony stylism, and have a lot of personality – they aren’t just cookie-cutter. Everything has a little bit of a fantasy flavor to it that I dig a lot.

It is an extensive collection – by my count nearly 40 pirate items were added. Updates include a pirate barrel house, a seaside lighthouse, a seaside dock gate, a pirate sword, sparkling treasure chest, boat anchor, cannon, black pirate flag, black pirate raft, and many many others. Best of all, virtually all the items are for sale for in-game coins. The only items being sold for purchasable currency are fully-animated ones.

SPP Ranch has been on a tear. When we wrote about it last on Feb 11th the game had 106,000 daily players. Today, that number has risen to 237,000 daily players. If item sets like this are continually introduced, expect that number to continue rising.