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Back at the Barnyard: Slop Bucket Games

Score: 35%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Firemint
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Party/ Adventure/ Sports (Olympic)

Graphics & Sound:

What do you get when you cross a cow, a pig, and a wayward chicken, then throw in some tomatoes for good measure? THQ and Firemint's Back at the Barnard: Slop Bucket Games, of course.

From a graphical standpoint, Slop Bucket Games is nearly a diamond in the rough. While the main environment that you walk through isn't exactly jaw-dropping, some of the mini-games look outstanding. Those games that have a static background have a great visual style with pronounced features that help add a lot to an otherwise lacking game. The environments that move, on the other hand, seem a bit lacking in their own right, and don't pack the pizzazz that the others possess.

Character models again look okay in the 3D environments and on the moving mini-games, but somehow pop out in the other events through not only visual quality, but also in their animations. The Stickbike Stunts event, which is basically a Barnyard version of Excite Bike, is the exception to the rule. The animations here are pretty bad, and whether purposely or not, take away from the game in quality (although in some way, they add hilarity).

The music and sound fx are pretty good, but nothing special. The background music during the adventure part of the game, in particular, has a pleasant beat, but does also get very repetitive. In-game sound effects keep the mini-games interesting, but the background music here is also great, with a down-home country feel to it. Unfortunately, the game requires reading text because the voiceover portions of the game consist of only a few words here and there.


Back at the Barnard: Slop Bucket Games is essentially a barnyard version of the Olympics, starring none other than animals from around the farmhouse. In-between events, you will have to play some "go fetch" types of quests, but they are pretty lame at best. Here you will basically talk with one of the animals scattered throughout a very, very small barnyard, then go retrieve fruit, parts, or other items that are necessary for the upcoming games. Once you track down these objects, it will unlock a new game and you'll take on the computer-controlled A.I. players (other barnyard animals).

The games in question vary quite a bit and are not necessarily related to each other in any way other than the fact that most of them have a farm-based theme. Three things really hold this game back, however, with the first being the horribly easy missions. Not only do you simply have to "find" the items that the animals are asking for, but their exact locations are dotted on the map. In addition, most of the time the objects are all very close to one another, limiting the need to "hunt" ever further.

The second disappointment with Nickelodeon's Slop Bucket Games is that there are only ten games in total, and a few of them are relatively uninteresting. The adventure game is spread out over a three day period, with new games unlocking as you go. However, the entire videogame can be beaten in only a few hours, unless you happen to have trouble with a particular event. Day 1 requires a bronze medal, while Days 2 and 3 require silver and gold, respectively.

Finally, Back at the Barnard misses out on a core following with one major flaw. For a game that is based around Olympic-style mini-games, it lacks multiplayer play in every sense of the term! This title is only for a single player on a single Nintendo DS... period. While it's true that not all of the games would translate well into multiplayer, most would, and they would translate very well.

Some notably fun games were Chicken Launch, Wack-A-Rac, and my favorite, Shufflemuck. A list of games follows with a short description of each:

  • Cowapult: Use a bungee to propel your cow and collect balloons, gaining more distance by hitting extra launch pads.
  • Chicken Launch: Also using a bungee, launch your chicken at moving targets while avoiding the cow wearing catcher's padding.
  • Melon Race: Avoid losing your watermelons from the back of a truck as you rally down a dirt racetrack.
  • Stickbike Stunts: Ride your wooden bike through jumps, collecting items and doing flips for big points.
  • Wack-A-Rac: Use your stylus to bop raccoons on the head, similar to the arcade classic Wack-A-Mole.
  • Junkyard Hijinks: Drive around a junkyard as long as you can, earning points as you go.
  • Flag Defender: Shoot tomatoes at other animals trying to steal your three flags.
  • Shufflemuck: This is air hockey with a barnyard theme.
  • Balloon Shepherd: Navigate your hot air balloon to pick up wayward sheep and return them home.
  • Sorting Chicks: Sort baby boy and girl chickens as they come by on a conveyor belt.


Easy is the only word to describe Back at the Barnard's difficulty level. Sure, as each of the three days pass, the difficulty increases, but the overall quality of this title's hardness is relatively pathetic. In fact, it goes to show that even as the days go by, the computer-controlled A.I. animals don't really perform better. The only difficulty increase is that you have to perform better, eventually gaining a first-place finish by the last day of the Games.

Since there is no multiplayer, you can't really even get a fun challenge from a friend either. It's unfortunate that this title has so few games, because that may have made up for the lack of difficulty a little bit. However, the fact is that even the adventure part of the Story Mode is nothing more than talking to the animals, fetching items (that are pre-marked on the map) for them, and then playing the next event that they give you.

The events themselves generally don't pose much of a threat either. In fact, while playing many of them, I hit Gold on the first attempt, although there were a few that saw some retries when I was forced to get Gold on the last day. The controls also didn't hinder in any way, so no added erroneous difficulty was added either (which, of course, is a good thing).

Game Mechanics:

The controls of Slop Bucket Games vary from game to game, as some will require exclusive use of the controller portion of the DS and others will require you to utilize the touch screen. Both methods work perfectly and without any kind of downfalls. The games that require the touch screen tend to be a bit more fun in general, as the interactions are typically more fast-paced. The Wack-A-Rac and Sorting Chicks games require quick use of the stylus in particular, and aiming is simply better using the touch screen in others like Shufflemuck and Chicken Launch. The racing games play much better thanks to the use of standard controls.

Back at the Barnyard: Slop Bucket Games is actually a fun game, and has some fun events to play, but the fact that the game is so short and too easy makes it hard to recommend that anyone shell out thirty dollars for this one. When the price drops really, really low, it may be worth another look, but most likely a rental for a day or two (that's all it will take to beat the game) may be a better choice. The lack of a multiplayer feature really takes away from the game too, especially in the replay value category. The Story Mode is pointless to go through again since all of the games will be available from the Main Menu as you unlock them. Take a step back and think about the purchase of this one for anyone that isn't very young or very into these barnyard animals.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Sony PlayStation 3 The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon Sony PlayStation 2 SingStar Country

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