Ranch Rush 2 – PC
Developer: Aliasworlds Entertainment / FreshGames
Release Date: April 27th, 2010
Genre: Time Management, RTS
Rating: 7 out of 10
I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across this game, but I’m glad I did. Ranch Rush 2 is a frantic time management game where the player must perform specific tasks in a set period of time. Tasks are performed by clicking on the appropriate item, and many tasks can be queued by clicking on items in the correct order. Figuring out the most efficient way to carry out these actions is the real challenge. It’s important to queue up as many actions as possible so that there isn’t a lot of “dead time” where the character is doing nothing.
The player controls a character named Sara, who is working on a farm/ranch in a tropical island setting. Various inhabitants of the island request items from Sara’s ranch, beginning with the simple harvesting of fruit and progressing to complex combinations of ingredients. Sara uses the available land to plant several different types of crops, the number of which increases over the course of the game. Crops take a little time to grow, and require maintenance such as watering and pest control. Once the crops grow, Sara can pick them and take them to the barn. Items taken to the barn are counted towards the quota given in each stage.
Sara starts out filling simple orders for the islanders, such as a few flowers or pomegranates, which can be picked directly from the ground. Over the course of the game, the locals become more demanding and Sara slowly gains the necessary equipment to fulfill more time consuming requests. No longer can Sara only harvest crops and take them to the barn, she must now use machines and other objects to manipulate the raw ingredients. For example, to get coconuts, she must take an appropriate amount of bananas to the monkey in the tree. For coconut pies, she needs coconuts, milk, and sugar cane. Sugar cane can be harvested directly, but coconuts must come from the monkeys who need bananas, and the milk comes from the goats who must eat flowers. Complexity continues to increase, one of the most involved items being the gift basket which requires fruit rolls, pineapples, and peacock feathers. Pineapples are harvested directly. Peacock feathers come from the peacocks who must be fed specific and ever-changing types of food. Fruit rolls are made by a machine that requires oranges and sugarcane.
When the player clicks on a banana, for example, Sara goes and picks a banana. She will then remain motionless until something else is clicked. The objective is to click on available items in an efficient order to meet the required demands before time runs out. For items that need to be made by machines, it’s quicker to add items to these machines first and then collect any raw ingredients from the invoice last. Since machines take time to make products and crops take time to grow, the entire level can’t be clicked out in advance. Other variables such as crop maintenance need immediate attention, so previous tasks sometimes need to be eschewed in favor of making sure plants don’t die. As the levels wear on it can be frustrating to complete an order, but there’s so much room for experimentation that it doesn’t quickly become frustrating if one has to try again.
Two different modes of play exist, casual and expert. Casual progresses with smaller orders and longer time limits, while expert conversely includes larger orders and smaller time limits. Expert mode moves extremely fast even in the earlier levels, so I would recommend completely the casual mode before moving on. The stages flow very nicely, gradually preparing the player for the impending increasing difficulty. The frenzied clicking gets addictive quickly and it’s the kind of game you’ll actually want to replay in an attempt to increase high scores. There’s also a little trophy room to keep track of specific achievements, acting as another incentive to replay completed levels.
Besides filling orders throughout the week, Sara gets to have a little fun on the weekends. Saturdays are market days where Sara can harvest or create whatever items she wishes during the allotted time and sell them for coins. Coins are needed to eventually buy the necessary machines as well as to replenish seeds and purchase need crops, but I find more than enough coins are awarded for completely orders to cover these costs. Personally, I like to use Saturdays to fill the machines with the correct ingredients so that when the next round starts some of the more time consuming items will already be made. The more complex the product is to make, the more money it fetches at the market. Things like fruit rolls and gift baskets will bring in lots of coins, but I think it’s more beneficial to have extras on hand. I like to sell raw items from the crops instead since they regrow in a relatively short period of time compared to the time needed by the machines.
On Sundays, Sara goes fishing. Fishing is a completely different game where Sarah attempts to catch fish in increasing sizes. The more fish she catches, the more secondary currency she earns. These aren’t coins, but rather points that can be used to buy decorative items for the ranch. None of the decorations affect play (except for perhaps taking up space) and these points can’t be exchanged for coins, so the fishing is essentially there for a fun break from the frantic pace of weekdays on the ranch.
Ranch Rush 2 has worked in such an intricate system of using items in different ways that it’s difficult for gameplay to get old. The game does a good job of acclimating the player to increasingly difficult orders; a point will come when the player is able to shave llamas and churn out ice cream and have pomegranate juice to spare and wonder how they ever got there from the simple picking of flowers. Even after completing casual and expert modes, this is still a fun game to revisit and hone one’s reflexes all over again. With all the clicking and rapid cursor movement needed, a mouse is essential for Ranch Rush 2. I think it’s highly unlikely one will be able to succeed for very long using a touchpad on a laptop, so be sure to have a mouse on hand before seeking out this title.
I’ve played around with other time management games since being introduced to Ranch Rush 2 and they follow the same basic premise. I’d have to really delve into the genre to ascertain how unique or refined this entry is, but either way I’m sure I’ll always remain partial to my first experience with this type of game.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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