Farming games on Facebook have seen their share of revisions and remakes in the past year or so, but there’s still room for new ideas — like UK-based developer Geek Beach’s first Facebook title, GoGo Native. At time of writing GoGo is still in its final phase of testing, but from what is working, its looks like it has a good deal of potential.
GoGo is a farming game at heart, it’s true, but rather than working in an infinite harvesting cycle to earn money and harvest some more, Geek Beach adds extra reasons to grow different crops, in the form of animals. These critters appear to be far more useful than your everyday farm animal that merely produces milk or eggs every 24 hours, and even play into the social and mini-game mechanics. In fact, said mini-games stand up well by themselves, and while their full potential and integration cannot be seen early on, may prove to be a strong extension of the overall farming theme.
When starting out, players are granted a minimally customizable tribal avatar and a small clearing in the jungle. From here it’s up to them to decorate it as they see fit, but also to grow crops in order to make a profit. Here’s the catch, though: crops are for more than just mere income.
Each plant grants the player one of three “powers,” so-to-speak, called Oomf, Zing, and Jomo. You see, each plant apparently has a value for one of these, and planting them will increase the associated power. It’s not 100% clear as to how this works, but based on the few tutorial pop-ups that are presented, different variations of these powers will attract different types of animals to your clearing.
This is where things start to get interesting. By attracting animals, or buying them from the market if you have a good chunk of change handy, players can eventually breed them. The following mechanics get really weird: Players can apparently cross breed animals. No, no… really cross breed. As an example, if one attracts a dog, and, say, buys a pig, they can purchase a “Love Shack” building and create creatures like a “Pigdog.”
This has two rewards associated to it. The first is social, in that players can visit a place called the “Native Market” and buy animals from other users. The second is that each animal gives players varying bonuses and advantages in the three GoGo Native mini-games.
As best we can tell, the farming/breeding aspects of the app support the mini-games, especially the one called Jungle Rumble (but more on that in a bit), and the mini-games are more oriented around competitive achievements and leaderboards. In truth, they don’t feel all that tightly knit together (though that may be because we don’t have much in the way of bred animals to help us yet), but individually, they do work. Regardless, there are currently three to play: Swamp Jumper, Voodoo Charms, and Jungle Rumble.
Each of the three has a unique flavor, and is exceedingly simple to play. Jumper is a game where players control a toucan as it hops from lily pad to lily pad and avoids traps and some nasty witch doctor and his minions. Charms is similar to the casual game Collapse in that players must remove tiles by clicking on them, before they reach the top of the screen. The more one clicks, the faster they rise, but it’s mitigated by special bombs and area of effect tiles that take out everything within their proximity. Unfortunately, the mini-game still came off as a bit boring compared to Swamp Jumper.
The last mini-game that’s currently active is a synchronous multiplayer game called Jungle Rumble. Based on what little description we have, it’s a game that lets you directly compete against friends or random people. Unfortunately, due to the early testing and thus, the lack of players, we were never able to get a match, but according to the developers, it will involve a battle of throwing spears. Also, should the player have animals, they will come into the game with the user, granting them extra power and/or even be usable as weapons.
The last curious addition to GoGo Native worth mentioning appears as part of the three powers — oomf, zing, and jomo. As players accumulate them (again, by planting specific plants), their power can be invoked to speed up things like plant growth (zing), hasten cross-breeding (jomo), or give more power in Jungle Rumble (oomf). Typically, such powers are reserved for virtual goods like fertilizer that usually cost virtual currency, so these three elements also apparently create a secondary set of rewards for building them up beyond attracting animals.
Overall, the only negative aspect to GoGo Native is that it’s just not done. It has a lot of new mechanics that farming-game players are not going to be familiar with, and its current build just doesn’t do a whole lot of explanation. All the same, these are minor annoyances that are fairly expected in an “officially unlaunched” title. Even with its issues, Geek Beach’s first title certainly looks more interesting than most of its competitors, holding a potential not seen in the farming genre for a long time.