Chinese Developer Five Minutes Follows Up on Farming Hit with Happy Farm 2

Chinese developer Five Minutes brought its popular farming application, Happy Farm to Facebook, one of many developers from the country that has pushed on to Facebook. The game has now grown to a respectable 3.1 million monthly active users.

How can you follow the game up with a sequel? Why you make it bigger, of course! Take Happy Farm as a base, spice it up with some elements of Pet Society, add a dash of YoVille, and throw it all into a miniature virtual world and you have the makings of a 681,000 MAU Happy Farm 2. Well… a Chinese language version of it anyway. Although Facebook is banned in mainland China, millions of Chinese speakers play games on the service throughout Asia and the rest of the world. 5 Minutes is making these Facebook users their target, at least for now.

[Update: An English-language version exists, although it’s not viewable in Facebook’s search and we didn’t have it in AppData. Its MAU count is also looking decent so far, with 281,000.]

Thankfully, most of the icons are, well, iconic enough to allow a English-speaking individual to figure things out, and despite the language barrier, Happy Farm 2 proved to be quite entertaining.

Getting down to basics, the game is your basic farm title. Players create plots of land, plant seeds, water them, do a little pest control, and eventually harvest them for some coin. Players then use the money to decorate their farm as they see fit with the added feature of creating ponds to place fish in. Unfortunately, for us, most everything is only in Chinese, so we honestly have no idea what the fish are telling us. No, we’re not crazy: the fish and plants talk, but other than the phrase “Happy Day,” lord only knows what they have to say. Nevertheless, it does display an interesting difference in culture: How often do your crops talk to you in FarmVille? Different, and pretty cool.

Unlike Happy Farm, where the game was static and unmoving, players can move about their fields with a cartoonish (though a bit uninspired-looking) avatar. This is where things get interesting though, as players can actually enter their home.

From here, the game takes a more YoVille-like approach, allowing players to decorate their isometric abode (of a respectable size) with a rather impressive variety of furniture. Obviously, this creates a great deal more longevity for the app, as now players are not only building up their farm, but their house as well.

This is where the Pet Society elements comes in. To buy said furniture, players leave their farm and enter a miniature city that feels only slightly smaller than the one in the Playfish title. Conveniently enough, your farm is located, more or less, in the heart of town and players walk about the city streets visiting a collection of stores, including places to buy gifts, fish, seeds, outfits (yes, you can decorate your avatar too), farm decorations, functional farm items (fertilizer, for example), as well as visit the bank (for virtual currency, presumably) and a breeder for farm animals.

Social elements, that we could understand, seem fairly standard for farming games too. You have your gifting, leaderboards, and the ability to visit and take care of each others’ farms. Actually, it is worth noting that this last feature has a nice bit of polish too. If a farm is left unattended for too long it gets a dusty, abandoned town feel to it.

Honestly, despite the language handicap, it really turned out to be a great game for us. The only issue that comes to mind is that compared to all the character designs for the shop keepers, the player’s avatar is a bit ghastly. Nonetheless, if that’s not an issue for you, and you can read Chinese (or even if you can‘t, for that matter), then by all means, Happy Farm 2 is a game certainly worth a play.

And, considering the tendency of Western developers to build their own versions of features that get big in China, perhaps we’ll see the many competing Facebook farm titles out there add more Happy Farm 2 features to their games.