Help the busy professor Fizzy grow yummy veggies by managing his new farm. Plant seeds, water them and harvest crops for the Lunch Lab with versatile robot assistant Mixie. Get awarded ribbons by being speedy and use farm earnings to purchase upgrades. Manage up to sixteen plots of land by clearing stages and unlocking available add-ons in this kid-friendly time management game.
At the start of each level, the spotlight veggie is introduced and the goals to meet are indicated at the bottom. Earning a blue ribbon is the best outcome and it signifies doing an excellent job. The next best rating is signified using a red ribbon and yellow corresponds to the last point goal. Once a level has been picked, it is now up to the player to pace themselves as they race to complete the tasks.
The farming process is quite easy to understand and can be picked up easily by kindergarteners. However, parents may need to sit and explain the steps initially as even simple tasks may seem confusing when under time pressure. So why exactly aren't we recommending Hectic Harvest to very young players? Well, even though the game's content is kid-friendly in general, the pre-K crowd may not be able to harvest veggies fast enough to clear later levels. Being a time management game without difficulty settings, the challenge the game offers might be deemed too frustrating for early learners.
Basically, players plant seeds on available plots of land. Icons display the status of each crop, indicating whether it is "thirsty" and needs watering or if weeds have to be pulled in order to keep the plant healthy. If all tasks have been completed properly, the crop grows and a basket icon indicates that they are ready to be harvested. Each seed planted and watered add points to a player's total though big earnings come only when veggies are harvested. Not tending to the needs of the plants will cause them to spoil and they will need to be cleared from the garden. On the other hand, successfully completing tasks in half the time adds bonus points.
Seeds vary in the speed in which they grow which means that it is beneficial to strategize and do time checks. Sometimes, even planting some strawberries (the game's basic crop) makes the difference between clearing and failing the level.
Upgrades may be purchased using the money earned through farming. These add-ons are usually meant for Mixie, making her more efficient in handling tasks around the farm. However, there is also the fertilizer which is an affordable, temporary booster that can be used to earn bonus points from crops and two add-ons that can increase the number of plots available to plant seeds in. The Medium Land Upgrade increases the number of plots to twelve while the Large Land Upgrade increases it to sixteen. Not all upgrades are available at the start of the game. The add-ons unlock one by one as a player successfully completes levels, keeping the challenge balanced for those who plan their purchases well.
Fizzy's Lunch Lab: Hectic Harvest is an entertaining, addictive game if you just want to have fun. In general, we love its true-blue time management mechanics and we appreciate its kid-friendly assets. What we didn't like so much are the unnatural voice-overs. The graphics look pretty good in terms of character illustrations and backgrounds but we would have liked to see a more vibrant palette of colors.
Game play-wise we enjoyed the challenge Hectic Harvest offers, though it is worth remembering that we are adults. Some kids, especially those who are not used to games with time limits may get frustrated at the pace at which they have to produce veggies. This title is probably best played by genre veterans or new players that have the patience to get used to the hustle and bustle of Fizzy's virtual farm.