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Hands-On Preview Of ‘Astro Ranch’ From Tag Games

Recently, I received the final, release-build of the upcoming Farmville/Harvest Moon-esque game from Tag Games. It’s everything I’ve been waiting for, and more. Though I was only slightly interested in Farmville, and have never played Harvest Moon, Astro Ranch had me from the start. Tag Games has done everything right – the crop planting, watering, mini-games, ranch upgrades, etc. all mesh together to create a beautiful, addicting experience.

The cinematic intro cutscene shows when you start up the game. It introduces the background story about how two twins, a boy and a girl, were flying a rocket ship stocked with supplies to farm the final frontier of the galaxy. However, typical sibling argument caused them to start fighting in the ship, disrupting the navigation system and causing the rocket to initiate a crash landing. Due to a “design flaw,” the escape pod could only contain one person, so one of the twins managed to get away while the other had no choice but to crash land with the rocket on an unknown planet.

When you start up the game, you’ll see that there is an impressive number of save slots – Tag Games has managed to squeeze in eight of them. In addition, you will notice that you can select one of the two twins; the one you select will be the one that you play as, which will also be the twin that crash lands on the planet. Once you have selected your save slot, character, name, and ranch name, you’ll start the game and learn the basics via a helpful tutorial from the mayor of the planet.

The controls aren’t perfect, but they do work. Moving around is done via tapping anywhere on the screen, and you dig, plant, and harvest by using an item and dragging it onto the target object, or by tapping the item and sliding your finger across the screen to select a group of objects to use it on. Mini-games such as fishing and gold panning are done with the accelerometer. Though I don’t like it, there definitely isn’t anything wrong with the control scheme in Astro Ranch.

Seeds, tools, pens, animals, and ranch upgrades such as electricity, sprinkler systems, and a bigger house can all be bought at various prices in the shop. There’s a lot of content in this game, and I can see it taking myself quite a while to finish the game. There’s a story and other side missions too, but I’ve just been too caught up in the agricultural and money making aspect of the game to care about that right now. I’ve already poured 10 hours into this game, and I’m not even one-tenth of the way through of getting everything.

Astro Ranch is the Farmville/Harvest Moon-esque game that we’ve all been waiting for, and you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity of grabbing this game for the cheap release price of $2.99. It’s an insanely low price for an insanely content-packed game. Currently, Astro Ranch is in review at Apple and should be released very soon. Here’s a hands-on video demonstrating some of the features of the game.



  1. snow_mani on Sunday 21, 2010

    I was one of the beta testers. Just read your preview and watched the video. Good preview but after watching the video I thought I’d point out that there is a better way to plant a large number of seeds for the same crop type. At least there was in the beta and I can’t see why Tag Games would change it for the release version….. Select the seed bag from your inventory. Then tap the seed bag once to highlight it (top right corner of screen). Then touch the first “square” of tilled soil you want to plant it in and drag your finger across the other areas of tilled soil that you want to plant the seeds in. When done selecting squares take your finger off the screen. Those squares will now be highlighted. There will be an option in the bottom right of the screen to proceed or cancel. This way you can plant a large area at a time without having to select and plant each square of tilled soil. Hope that makes sense! :)

  2. Jeff on Sunday 21, 2010

    Nice to meet you! I’m not the one the filmed the video, but you can see in my preview that I mentioned your way of selecting multiple areas. :)

  3. jKarguth on Sunday 21, 2010

    How would you change the control scheme? It may not be something Tag can do right away but at some point, I could see them addressing a secondary option.

  4. Jeff on Sunday 21, 2010

    I think many people would prefer a virtual analog stick or d-pad rather than tap to move. Personally, I don’t like it that much myself, but I can live with it. Playing the game is worth it, even though I don’t enjoy the controls.

  5. [...] our preview: Astro Ranch is the Farmville/Harvest Moon-esque game that we’ve all been waiting for, and you [...]