Back at the Barnyard: Slop Bucket Games
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-11-03 Nintendo DS Mini-games E (Everyone) THQ

Barnyard - now there's another animated movie I didn't care to take the time to watch. But mini-games always have a reserved special place on my DS, so I had to give Slop Bucket Games a try.

Back at the Barnyard: Slop Bucket Games is based on the world of the Nickelodeon show for kids that sprouted the movie and a console game a while back. This time, the animals have organized their own competition of unusual sporting events, where you participate to win the Slop Bucket Trophy by competing in a series of mini-games.

You begin by picking your avatar from the available cows (female and male), and away you go on a little bit of adventure and 10 mini-games.

The adventure portion is limited to talking to animals on the farm and completing their mini-quests in order to unlock a game. These are simple fetch quests, with the items indicated on the mini-map. Throughout the farm you will also spot hint signs that give you tips for specific mini-games. Quests are marked with exclamation marks, which turn into stars when completed, meaning a mini-game is now available at that location.

The games are pretty crazy and humorous, most of them pretty simple and lasting from a few seconds to a couple of minutes.

In Chicken Launch, you launch Peck the chicken at the moving targets on the field, while avoiding the cow, Otis. Drag the slingshot back and aim in the direction you want to launch him.

Melon Race is a 3D checkpoint race where you steer a pick-up truck carrying some melons in the back. You must avoid bumps and obstacles so the truck doesn't tilt, and make it to the next checkpoint with the most melons, for bonus points. You can pick up randomly placed clocks for extra time, but the race ends when the timer is up or if you lose all your melons.

Whack-a-Rac is probably the most addictive whack-a-mole game I've ever played. It's so much fun! You have tap the raccoons and coyotes as they pop through the holes. Don't hit the little chicks or Freddy (they can be recognized by the helmets), but hit the coyotes carrying paint buckets as soon as possible, or they will throw it at your screen. If you find yourself covered in paint, quickly scrub the screen with the stylus and keep whacking.

I had the most trouble with Stickbike Stunts. Here you drive a bike on a 2D side-scrolling race against other competitors. A is your gas, B is your brakes and the D-pad controls your stunts. You can do front and backflips for points, and this is where I actually had a hard time, controlling the landings not to crash. Collecting stars throughout the course and arriving at the goal first will also give you extra points. The winner isn't necessarily who finished the race in first place, but whoever has the most points at the end.

Cowapult is exactly what it sounds like: you launch a cow from a slingshot then steer it up or down by tapping the arrows on the touch screen.Picking up balloons adds to your "air time", while hitting trampolines will give you an extra jump and more distance. Points are awarded according to the distance you traveled. It takes quite a few tries to get the hang of the steering though, it's not as easy as it seems and actually had me pretty frustrated for a while. But if you want to progress through the whole story, you really have to complete the games and do well enough to move on to the next day.

Other tasks include Balloon Shepherd (rounding up sheep while flying in a balloon), Shufflemuck (air hockey), Flag Defender (a top-down shooter where you defend the flags from incoming animals), Junkyard Jinx (another checkpoint race), and Sorting Chicks (separating male and female chicks into their respective blue and pink baskets).

And that's about it for Slop Bucket Games. It's a fairly short game and anyone over the age of 12 will be done with it in a couple of hours. It's definitely something to entertain the kids with for some time, but the controls in some of the mini-games might turn them off from progression. If I got frustrated by Cowapult and Stickbike, children will more than likely will be too.

Special thanks to Kristina Kirk and THQ for providing a copy of this title.