CGR Undertow – FUNKY BARN review for Nintendo Wii U

I was pleasantly surprised when Funky Barn
3D turned out to be a solid 3DS game. It’s not great, but it is one of the most addictive
and charming simulation-type games on the system. So I was one of the, like, eight people
who actually expected good things from Funky Barn for the Wii U. The only surprise this time…is just how
good it actually is. Now, let’s get some things clear right up
front. Funky Barn is not a “great game” in the critical sense. Its production values
are ridiculously low, there’s no voice work…from the moment you load it up, Funky Barn just
screams “low budget.” But beneath that facade of mediocrity, there’s actually an
insanely addictive management game that uses the GamePad better than some of the platform’s
highest-budget releases. It also lets you name your sheep after metal
bands, so it’s a win-win. I’d tell you about the story, but I’m
not sure what it is. There’s a slideshow of some drawings at the onset, but that’s
about as far as it goes. Funky Barn really skimps on presentation, but again…there
really is a difference between its appearance and the game at its core. So you start off with this empty patch of
land. It’s just barren earth, to keep with the metal theme. Therein lies the game…you
start small, adding little more than a water trough for the one chicken you have. But eventually,
you have a bustling farm with piglets, cows, robotic egg collectors and freaking sheep
statues. You know, like a real farm. The game just nails the whole farm management
thing. Chickens lay eggs, which earn you money. Which buys you more crap for your farm, which
means the stork brings new animals. The more you play, the more there is to do, resulting
in a surprisingly addictive game even the most hardened Farmville hater would have a
hard time putting down. But really, the best part of this Funky Barn—and
why it’s such a solid Wii U game, in particular—is how it uses the GamePad. You play the entire
game with touch, and it’s awesome. In fact, this is one of the first Wii U games to show
how touch controls can benefit console games. You interact with the farm with this little
hand icon, which is moved by dragging the stylus…and it works like a dream. You can manage your farm so much faster than
with the optional thumb sticks, it’s almost ridiculous. That bodes really well for the
future of touch-based Wii U titles. Of course, the drawbacks here are many. Bad
presentation, short length, no online or anything…Funky Barn is kind of a cheap game. But it’s also
a surprisingly good game, and it does a fantastic job of integrating the GamePad into its core
gameplay. There’s nothing tacked on here, and the controls are just seamless. If only
for a look at the potential of its platform, Funky Barn is well worth a look.