About a week ago we were taking our usual look at the top 20 growing apps for Facebook and came across a company whose title, Island Paradise, had made it to #5 on those charts. Falling in behind some of the top growing games of the time, including FishVille, Happy Aquarium, FarmVille, and Diva Life, the company, Meteor Games, has been doing impressively well garnering, roughly, 6.8 million monthly active users for the aforementioned game and around 4,300 for another one of its titles, Vikings, Pirates, and Ninjas.
Founded by Adam and Donna Powell, California-based Meteor Games has actually been at the forefront of social media for some time. In fact, back in 1999, its founders were also the founders of an internet phenomenon called Neopets.com. This virtual space website would become one of the largest online outlets for children’s entertainment with over 45 million users worldwide and in 11 different languages.
Unfortunately, it has proven to be a double edged sword, as the significant growth of the newer Island Paradise has led to the forsaking of Vikings, Pirates, and Ninjas (VPN) which had gone down for week long maintenance and never returned. Thankfully, Meteor’s new title seems to be making up for the current loss.
The core concept of the virtual tropical farming app is no different than any other farming game. However, it does have a pretty interesting premise. Rather than being your cliché country farmer, you are a shipwrecked everyman (or girl, if you prefer), making the best of your situation. This, of course, means that all of the decorations purchasable hold a sort of Robinson Crusoe feel.
Frankly, the idea is actually very neat; almost like building a fort as a kid as opposed to having pristine houses and barns and white washed fences. In fact, it makes an overdone genre feel very different. It is a shame, however, that the selection of decorative items is very limited. It would be fantastic to see more designs in line with Crusoe, or any other shipwreck story (The Swiss Family Robinson, for example).
The game even has a convenient queuing mechanic that allows you to click multiple fields to plow and the avatar will automatically do so until told to stop. This also applies to planting seeds as well, and while it might not seem like much, for anyone that has played FarmVille, a massive set of fields takes a very long time to plow and plant when it is one plot at a time.
Atmospherically, too, the game feels better than most farm titles. The visuals are okay, but what was notable was that the sound actually didn’t get muted! Very rare is the occasion that a looping soundtrack doesn’t get on a user’s nerves (unless of course they are at work… in which case it is muted no matter what). This soundtrack is nothing but soothing oceanic sounds of waves and gulls peppered with random music and sound effects. As an example, a personal favorite is a steel drum playing Old McDonald for a few seconds before being tossed into the ocean.
Certainly, Island Paradise deserves some recognition, breathing life into a watered-down genre. With a tried and true core farming mechanic coupled with a more refreshing premise, wonderful atmosphere, and a few comical quirks, it really is a game worth checking out. Granted, it does have room for improvement (i.e. the selection of decorative items), but Meteor Games certainly looks to be on the right track.