As per the upcoming physical release, here’s a Home Sheep Home Farmageddon Party Edition Switch review, also available on the Nintendo eShop.
There’s something quite comforting about the Aardman universe – almost a timeless nature about it that never instils the stresses of modern-day life, despite the stories and characters being very much relatable. While the Americans have Disney, the Japanese Studio Ghibli, the British can find solace in a cup of tea, cracking toast and countless sheep.
So it is with mild regret that Home Sheep Home Farmageddon Party Edition generated the odd frown which I haven’t experienced in my Aardman spectatorship – from Creature Comforts, Angry Kid through to Shaun the Sheep – it’s a tricky game, but that’s not a bad thing.
Home Sheep Home Farmageddon Party Edition Switch Review
Looks are what we judge a lot of things on and straight away you’ll notice the aesthetic choice; hand-drawn characters and backgrounds rather than digitised stop-motion.
Certainly not on par with the studio greats, I’ve dabbled with stop-motion, and it was an absolute ballache. To reconstruct this in gaming terms would be far too ambitious and doesn’t translate too well, apart from Wurroom and the untouchable (ahem) ClayFighter.
While simplicity is the order of the day, it’s clear you’re playing an Aardman game as all three characters, Timmy, Shaun and Shirley look the part, as do the environments you face.
The goal of this puzzle game published by Greenlight Games is a simple one; get all three sheep to safety from one side of the screen to the other. In most cases, this appears to be incredibly easy but don’t be deceived: Home Sheep Home Farmageddon Party Edition is a challenging game in terms of the puzzles it sets, but also in its execution.
All three characters can be controlled, and they have their advantages. Timmy is tiny, so he can sneak through small areas, activate switches – that sort of thing. Shaun is arguably the leader with his jumping skills; he’s the fastest and can reach parts that other beers cannot.
Finally, the tank: Shirley. She can jump, but not very well. Where she lacks in agility, she makes up for in brute strength as she can move objects, but because of her bulk, sinks like a brick in water.
Of the three options, you can scroll through the sheep with L and R on the fly. Home Sheep Home Farmageddon Party Edition isn’t turn-based, so you can chop and change your strategy at any time.
For the majority of my time, I played in single-player mode, so that meant moving one sheep into place so another could jump on their back to reach an elevated position. This is called sheep stacking.
Each of the sheep can jump, Shaun having the upper hand, but their strengths come into play pretty early on, and in many situations, you’ll need all three to take part in a problem, where other times, one can trigger off the switches while the rest follows.
There’s a hell of a lot of levels in the game, and some of the most straightforward of puzzles end up taking forever. Sometimes it’s the execution on the player’s part, other times, the games biggest issue, is the interaction and collision with other objects.
Just by pressing the + button, you can restart a level, and you’ll do that for two main reasons: to retry a puzzle as ‘you’ve got it’ or because a character is stuck under a door or trapped by an object.
This happened far too much, and while the respawn was quick, it was frustrating when I had solved a puzzle only for a slight movement on my part had one of the sheep trapped to the point they could not move out of a seemingly easy situation.
A Science Lesson
The physics are mostly good, but there will be moments of insanity when you attempt to drop a box from height so that it can be used as a stepping stone to another area.
If it doesn’t fall the wrong way, you may find that you inadvertently push the box against a wall and either can’t pull it back, or you trap a teammate. Playing with another player, this happens a lot, but I’d wager this was because the other player was an idiot.
As mentioned, respawning is quick, and once you have the solution, performing the challenge doesn’t take a long time, but it’s always open for error.
Another thing that I struggled with again was the physics such as jumping on a trampoline or using a see-saw (in an opening level!) where I had to time my jumps perfectly to get the other sheep to a seemingly unreachable area.
Granted, with another player, this would have been easier, but on my own I had to get Shirley to jump from a height and while falling, switch to Timmy and time my jump perfectly when she hit the other end of the see-saw.
With all that said, pending you can avoid some of the frustrating collisions and physics, Home Sheep Home Farmageddon Party Edition is a fun game – really!
Follow The Crowd
Every stage has the option of three stars based on performance. In each of these, you collect a bonus sock or two and have to complete in a relatively swift time.
There are four main ‘worlds’ to explore made up of 45 stages – the fifth world is a bonus of 48 additional stages. With each new world comes an environment from the film (check it out if you haven’t seen it).
As you’d expect, each new world features new challenges. While the gameplay remains very much the same, there is more of a focus on teamwork as it can’t be done without everyone’s input from Timmy operating doors in advance to Shirley being the muscle.
My favourite world was Lost in London as you have to traverse moving vehicles on a busy road. It reminded me of the classic side-scrolling beat ’em ups as you have to clear numerous signposts that could knock you off course at any time, or hit the surface of the road at high speed.
Multiplayer modes are determined with who you play with, and my experience was with my daughter, who gets a kick out of us failing. The co-op side wasn’t as enjoyable for me as it’s time-based and her sabotage methods meant it was better alone, so we shifted to the party mode.
The party mode is a mixture of some excellent mini-games plus the old staple of a football game. Our personal favourites were Hay, Chase Me where you have to outrun a bale of hay, and Hop, Sheep, Jump where you have to dodge a swinging spaceship pendulum. The greatest element was pushing the other person so that they failed – it was immensely satisfying!
Taking into account the frustrating moments of getting stuck in the environments (not glitches, just the nature of the game, I guess), I really enjoyed my experience with Home Sheep Home Farmageddon Party Edition, especially the additional mini-games as it allowed for my youngest daughter to jump into too.