capsule review

Welcome to Merriweather Farm

If you have youngsters ages six and young in your house who love the heavy equipment found on farms, you might want to introduce them to Welcome To Merriweather Farm. It’s a charming game that lets kids play with combines, plows and other gear on a pretend farm.

It’s one of two Bold Games titles that uses characters and stories seen in Parachute Publishing's book of the same name—featuring licensing from the famous agricultural machine maker John Deere. We reviewed the other, Busy Days In Deer Valley (   ), back in December.

There’s always a lot of work to do on Merriweather Farm, whether it’s harvesting crops, plowing fields to get them ready for planting, collecting apples for the harvest, and more. To that end, Johnny Tractor (J.T. to his friends, Corey Combine and Allie Gator—named after John Deere’s line of all-purpose vehicles—help the farmer with his job. There’s also a pesky raccoon who keeps getting in the way.

Welcome to Merriweather Farm comprises six individual interactive games: You start out by exploring the farm—a page of illustrated scenery complete with the three vehicles you’ll get to know, the farmer, and lots of stuff to do—stacking tires near the garage, for example, or shooing away the chickens in the driveway. It’s full of clickables that offer some nice surprises and animations for adventurous players.

Johnny Tractor has to harvest apples, and you have to help him. You position your bucket underneath the branches of the apple tree and watch as apples loosen up and gently fall to earth. Be careful to grab them before they hit the ground, or the ever-hungry raccoon will claim it as his own.

You can also help Corey Combine with the corn harvest; J.T. is ready to help by carting loads of corn to a nearby grain elevator. You operate JT as Corey busily goes up and down the neat rows of corn.

We find Allie Gator in a corn maze, where she has to locate garden tools that she’s accidentally left in the field. Controls are simple—kids just point and click where they want Allie to go, and she’ll try to find her way there.

You can help Allie round up the chickens, too—kept in separate pens, they keep getting tormented by that pesky raccoon, who seems determined to let them loose by opening up their pens and letting them escape. Using a broom you shoo the chickens back home, being careful not to let any get away.

My six year old son James kept returning to one activity in which you help J.T. plow the field for planting. A racing game of sorts, this is an overhead scrolling game in which you have to steer clear of obstructions like big rocks and garden equipment while keeping J.T. gassed up by collecting containers of fuel.

A cute soundtrack and lots of cheery sound effects complement the game’s cartoonish look and feel. Some of the sound effects got a bit grating after a while, but you can control their volume in the game’s options.

I found myself wanting a Windowed mode (many games these days offer that capability) so the LCD screen I played it on wouldn’t scale up so much. That’s not a feature, however.

The game is rated EC for Early Childhood by the ESRB.

Although John Deere equipment is featured and the logo figures prominently on the box, this game isn’t one long advertisement for the company—it’s more about kids having fun down on the farm. To that end, it succeeds well. Three levels of difficult will keep kids coming back to the six activities for a bit, and their success at each of the games is rewarded with a new coloring page that they can print out and fill in away from the computer.

This game is not a Universal Binary, but I was able to run it on an Intel Mac without any adverse effects.

The bottom line

Welcome to Merriweather Farm is a fun adventure for kids six and under. There's no learning here, just good time down on the farm—but sometimes fun is enough.

Apple Outsider In Welcome to Merriweather Farm, your kids can participate in a variety of farm-related fun, including helping Johnny Tractor keep apples out of the clutches of a pesky raccoon.
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