Farm From Home
Other than being home to one of the few video games to have three subtitles in its name, Shawn the Sheep: Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon: Party Edition for Nintendo Switch is also home to… well… Shawn the Sheep! The Aardman animated series is bigger than the Wallace & Gromit franchise it spun off from, and even has its own spin-off for younger children called Timmy Time, a Christmas Special and two theatrical releases.
The latter theatrical release, Farmageddon, is the outing on which this “mutton bashing” game (very clever Aardman) is based upon. You play as lead sheep Shawn, CBeebies Timmy and lazy extra Shirley as you work your way through a loosely attached version of the film’s plot completing physics-based puzzles that encourage you to collect items and finish in specific time goals to gain better star rankings. Despite being labelled as a remastered “Party Edition”, the main mode of the game is designed primarily as a single-player outing. Flicking between the three different sized sheep using the shoulder buttons, you position and time the trio accordingly to complete the puzzles and make it across the finish line as quickly as possible. This mode can, of course, be played in a multiplayer setting, with each player becoming separate sheep. However, the main fun with your friends comes later in separate modes.
I do have to point one thing out before you try and play this game.
Despite Aardman animations usually catering for both parents and children in their narratives and visual punchlines, the level of difficulty here is of course aimed at younger gamers. I completed over half of the puzzles available in around an hour, managing to obtain the full three stars ranking in each on my first attempt. For children however, this would be a clever game showing the cause and effect of their decisions. Whether it be the timing of pressing a switch, or the weight of Shirley bouncing on a trampoline compared to Timmy, you could argue the physics element of Home Sheep Home is in fact educational.
The place where this game shines, which should come as no surprise, is its animation. With its hand-painted backdrops and hand-drawn sprites, this game is incredibly charming. All three sheep have different personalities, and the music/jingles when finishing a level is different depending on which sheep you are at the time of completion. Even when working through the initial easy levels, I found myself smiling and appreciating the effort that has been put into the visual style Aardman went for. You could cynically say the game belongs on a tablet in terms of complexity, but I would argue the visuals and attention to detail make this a game worthy of your large screened television.
Mutton Bashin Baaa-ttles
The “Party Edition” aspect of this release comes in the form of its multiplayer baaa-ttles. Ahem. Based around a theme park now set up near Mossy Bottom Farm, mini-games are presented by the film’s alien Lu-La, who will take you and your friends through several stages before declaring who wins based on the number of points (or pizza slices in this case) they accumulate. A variety of games are included such as farm volleyball, running away from giant balls of hay, and balancing on rafts that keep having crates land on them to tip their balance and send you hurtling into the water below. While it doesn’t have the variety of mini-games presented in something like Mario Party, these selections of games are what makes Home Sheep Home replayable, and is also fun for people of all ages in the family.
Whether it’s bouncing off a Beefeater’s hat in London, flicking switches to correct the time on Big Ben, or deploying Parachutes of three different weighted sheep in order to land on strategically positioned platforms, the single-player campaign is amusing and a delight to watch while younger gamers take on its challenges. Then throw in the family orientated fairground party games, plus the charming art style of the entire piece, and you really can’t knock the nine quid cost of admission. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t even get a go on the waltzers and a lamb burger at a real fairground for that cost wool you when it’s that sheep… just to ram the point home to ewe… okay I’ll stop.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 18/10/2019
No. of Players: 1-4
Category: Puzzle, Party
Developer: Aardman Animations
Publisher: Greenlight Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop