Back at the Barnyard: Barnyard Games (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew



Barnyard the movie is a few years old now, in fact such is its age the first game based on the antics of this collection of farm animals was released on the Gameboy Advance. Unfortunately, like many movie tie-in's, it wasn't very good, although to come to think of it neither was the movie. Barnyard Games is part of THQ's business model to release more than a single game based on a property, which they've been doing for years now with Disney movies. The hope here is that it's 'second time lucky' and with the power of the DS it's certainly possible, but have developers Firemint pulled it off?


Barnyard Games is pretty self-explanatory where you play as a cow challenged to beat all the current record holders in 10 separate mini-games. It takes place over three days and while some of the games are available right from the start, others involve you seeking out and retrieving objects to 'help' with their set-up. This is a lame attempt at inserting an adventure element into the proceedings but because the object's location simply appears as a red dot on your map, it's actually more of a chore than entertaining.

The games themselves are varied in quality and, while most are based on tried and tested formulae, there are some reasonably interesting ones. The best of these are the driving games. Melon Race for example, challenges you to speed around a bumpy track whilst traveling though checkpoints and retaining your load of melons but once you lose them all it's game over. In the same vein, Junkyard Hijinks involves you navigating a junkyard seeking out flags and stopwatches for extra time. Unfortunately there are also a number of mini-games based on flash games available for free all over the internet, there's Whack-a-Rac (instead of a mole), an Air Hockey clone with Shufflemuck and Cowapult which allows you to use the stylus as a Catapult. It seems that the developers at some point ran out of ideas because the terrible Stickbike Stunts and Sorting Chicks shouldn't be in any game compilation. Once completed you can revisit each of the games to improve your high score but you have to wonder why you'd want to do this.


As with many DS titles now, you are given the option to either use traditional controls or the stylus but to be honest, we found the d-pad much easier to move your main character around the play area. You'll also want to use this method for the driving sections although some of the more carnival games demand the touch-screen interface.


Visually the game is a bit of a mixed bag and while you do get perfectly passable 2D visuals on the majority of games, you also get some standard DS 3D. What we mean by this is 3D from a fixed point, so while the 'exploration' section of the gameplay is in 3D it's all shot from above with the camera only coming to ground level for conversations. Much more impressive is the Melon Race which features some fairly impressive scenery in addition to a steady frame-rate.


The music is truly awful, with only a few lines of spoken dialogue included and the only way to escape it is to turn the volume down.

Dual screen

As we've already mentioned, many of the games use the stylus and touch-screen interface, all of which have full instructions on how to play at the front end so it's difficult to get lost.

Final comments

While Barnyard was aimed at a family audience, Barnyard Games is clearly aimed at the younger gamer and indeed, with no multiplayer and little replay value, it's questionable whether adults will get any enjoyment at all from it. The biggest thing this title has going against it is the sheer number of mini-game collections already available and as with puzzlers and racing titles, any title consisting of a handful of stylus driven challenges needs to be a bit special and, unfortunately, this one isn't.

Pro: Some Nice Racing Games
Con: Very Short, Terrible Music, No Multiplayer
Final score: 4.9


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Boxart of Back at the Barnyard: Barnyard Games (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Party Games
Developer: Firemint
Publisher: THQ