REVIEW: Produce Wars

Produce Wars ($1.00) is out, having been circling the runway of release for some time (I remember hearing about it early in 2012). Back then, and even now, your first inclination would be to label it ‘Angry Birds with Fruits & Vegetables’, a cash-in for those that don’t care about playing derivatives. I expected it to play out as such. To an extent, it does, though it also combines other platforming elements in an attempt to stand on its own. The long development cycle has paid off.

To get it out of the way early, huge portions of Produce Wars will… ahem, produce, the requisite déjà vu. For all its creators’ insistence on being an ‘evolution’ of the genre, Produce Wars is indeed Angry Birds with a different cast of characters, right down to the multiple fruit types that offer unique shot abilities, and the standard ‘seige’ levels you’ll have to dismantle piece by piece, timmmberring! the towers to skillfully chain the demolition. Though the stages are very well-designed and fun, meant to be replayed, their inspiration is always readily apparent.

Perhaps to dilute the similarities, and to provide more variety, the game mixes these familiar stage types with some larger, multi-part levels that depend more on timing and skill. Rather than just collapsing the defenses from a stationary turret, you take on a more active role, traversing the levels yourself. This is handled by lining up barrels and timing your shots, a la Donkey Kong Country, in order to reach better angles or activate switches for targeting any isolated vegetable antagonists. This new mechanic comes with its own set of challenges, too, such as barrels that countdown to an automatic launch, or level-specific hazards like buzz saws and avian shot-blockers.

In typical fashion, the stages end once you’ve eliminated all enemies, preferably in the fewest shots possible. Progress is based on increasing your skill; to open up the next set of levels, you’ll need to earn at least a bronze on four of the five that preceded them. For you compulsive types, collecting the star in each level (some will have to be revisited once you gain new shot powers) will build towards unlocking special (and optional) stages that trade between fun and brain-testing.

Produce Wars - Screen

This will require some thought.

With an excellent opening tutorial and measured difficulty, there’s not a lot to find fault with here. It’s casual enough that anyone can pick up the basic elements immediately, and the bright colors and cutesy design admit as much. Don’t let that throw you off, however. You’ll face a good amount of challenge in toppling the later game’s stage physics, but never enough to discourage. It’s got that classic ‘just one more try’ approach down pat, much like the actual Angry Birds.

The end result may be more ‘inspired by’ than evolution, but there’s no denying that Produce Wars is a very fun and well-built game, worthy of the $1 price and then some. With several hours of playime, over a hundred stages, and some definite replayability, fans of slingshotting anything, be it birds or produce, will find plenty to like.

24 thoughts on “REVIEW: Produce Wars”

  1. You know, I get mad when “inspired” indie games get more attention than the ones that are original, so all I write after this sentence will turn me into a hipocrite. This game if by far my favorite XBLIG, I just have so much fun getting stars and gold medals, and the challenges that its bring me its just satisfying. The level design is pretty good, and the music… the music is AMAZING! I have not touched the others Arcade, On Demand (Far Cry: Blood Dragon, Witcher 2 among others) games yet because Im so hooked with this game. Oh, I play the demo of Iota, and its ballz. Remind me of those 32 bits platformers of my youth, althought the graphics style is more on par with Vectorman. Guess XBLIG its a preggo again, with some pretty good games waiting to give birth.

    1. I’m not surprised to hear that. It has the same addictive qualities as Angry Birds, so a lot of people would naturally be drawn to 100%-ing the game. It’s certainly cheaper than what AB is charging on the consoles, too.

      I’m looking forward to Iota. Still need to finish up a couple of reviews, but it’s on the list!

    2. Thank you for checking it out xionix! I’m really glad you enjoyed it.

      We went into making the game knowing the natural comparisons to Angry Birds, but we really put a TON of effort into giving Produce Wars its own character and mechanics that differentiate it (we didn’t want to create “Angry Fish”).

  2. I’ve really enjoyed the game, and although the tutorial felt a bit long, it was definitely necessary. As far as the Angry Birds inspiration, this game feels as if it has a whole lot more depth, and is quite an improvement over Angry Birds for it. For what we consider the twilight of XBLIG, we sure are getting some high quality – some of the best I’ve yet played!

    1. Thank you andre! We’ve heard that about the tutorial from many people, and we’ve considered unlocking tutorial levels as people experience those mechanics for the first time in the real game, that way they can always go to the tutorial if they don’t understand what they are seeing.

      In general, we’ve found the mechanics aren’t so difficult that people can’t figure them out thought.

    2. Personally, I thought the tutorial was a good length. The mechanics should be familiar to most of us by now, but you should always err on the side of caution and make sure there’s enough explanations in there to cover all the bases. Having it there to go back to is a plus as well.

      People find them tedious sometimes, but trust me, you get spoiled finding them in all the arcade / AAA games. I can’t begin to tell you how many indie games just throw you to the wolves and tell you to figure it out on your own. It depends on the genre, of course, but it’s been my experience that trial-and-error guesswork tends to piss people off more than any tutorial could.

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed the game Tim! We hope others do too.

    We certainly don’t shy away from the fact that the game is in the same vein as Angry Birds. With the varied gameplay (“Donkey Kong” stuff) we tried to create a game that was worth playing for both fans and haters of Angry Birds. Hopefully, we’ve done that!

  4. Im not much into mobile gaming, I have play some games but never get much into it, point is I have not played that much of Angry Birds, so this one is kinda like a new experience, sort of.

    So far, in this year, the 3 games that will feel perfect on XBLA, are OFDP, Magicians And Looters and now this one, if we talk about the amount of content and polished. Althought this game is “inspired” it beats the 40 dollars of Angry Birds Star Wars. I have only played the demo, but thats enough to say that this game is very fun, if you are sort of new to it like me.
    And only “inspiration” (oh, and boobs) sells well on XBLIG, so, I think this is the best Angry Birds inspiration you will ever get on the console.

    1. Yeah, they can only wrap it up and sell it so many different ways, but it’s still Angry Birds. It is, however, much better than the ‘Angry Fish’ clones from a couple of years ago….

      There’s three of those games out there. At least Gigaloth took it and put some effort into it. If you are new to it, though, it’s a good entry into the style of play. It’s certainly worth the money, with the amount of content.

      That gives me an idea, though. What if we took the ‘boobs’ idea, and flung boobs around the level, trying to knock down other boobs, and the structures in the stages themselves where designed to look like boobs, or the female body in general? Add some anime-style background images, and release… PROFIT!

    2. Oh and I loved Angry Fish and before that Fishcraft (which was Angry Fish part one. Gonna give this one a go as well! Thanks for the great review.

    3. Of course the boobs will jiggle! We’ll hire Team Ninja for that. We spare no expense!

      Good catch on FishCraft. I’d forgotten about the prequel. So actually FOUR different versions of the same clone they did. Geez. Not that Rovio hasn’t sold out with the amount of versions and ‘themed’ versions they’ve done. Oh well. Give the people what they want, I guess. Enjoy!

    4. Oh and Tim….Angry Birds actually ripped off Crush The Castle of which there is plenty of versions you can Bing (I’m Binging now and not Googling) and play for free on a PC or you can get the app for a few pennies.

    5. You better be Binging, sir. 🙂

      And you are correct on Crush the Castle. Angry Birds may be the big social phenomenon, but they did ‘borrow’ the idea, proof that everything we think is new / interesting is only taken from some time in the past and given a new coat of paint.

    6. I was thinking more on changing the barrels to boobs, knocking boobs is like showing them as the enemy, 10 years old will not take that kindly. Although the priest and the Christian Church will love us.

    7. Imagine if team shuriken takes that idea.
      You have to break the fort to uncover the background picture.

      Wait… We just gave someone the idea of a B.O.B. game.

    8. If we decide to move forward with Produce Wars (another game, expansions, etc.) expect to see less “Angry Birds” and more physics platforming.

      I doubt there will be boobs, though the Princess could perhaps show more skin…

    9. Hear! Hear!

      ‘Peel back those layers. Don’t be shy, baby. Let’s see some skin.’ <— Things you don't want to hear in the vegetable aisle at your local grocery.

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