Cash Cow tells the tale of Buck the cow to save his farm from the evil bankers. It is cute to have a cow named Buck even though he is not a cow. He is probably an ox, but never mind that.
Cash Cow is a casual puzzle game mixing aspects of two of my favourites: Bit Top 10 and Alchemize™. You have to match coins to get larger sums. A maximum of ten coins can be selected at once. If you touch the wrong coins simply tap somewhere else on screen to release the selection. The largest coin is the quarter, and of course combining four makes a dollar. If you for example combine five cents into a nickel, the nickel will stay on the board and new coins will fall down to fill out for the four missing coins.
When you create a new coin you get that money added to your total. The new coin also glows, and by combining several glowing coins you get powerups. Depending on the amount of glowing coins you get better powerups helping you to collect money quicker. The only enemy in the game is the bumblebee flying about, and if it lands on a coin you can’t match it. As you progress bumblebees get more and more frequent. There are also false coins to remove. If you accidentally add a false coin to your new coin combination you will get a point deduction.
There is two story modes: arcade and relaxed. In arcade, that I consider the only real story mode, you have a timer for each level. Making new money or removing false money refills the timer. In relaxed there is no timer, and really no challenge or point at all in playing.
The story modes features 25 levels, and in arcade mode the first 20 or so are really easy. I got myself stuck on the last level, and it is really hard to complete it. My wife completed it after much cussing. In her opinion it is all about luck in getting a good layout of coins to be able to complete the final level.
The story in Cash Cow is not really important at all, and kind of gets lost a bit along the way. You can build your farm using money from the levels, but this is only a visual thing. I built everything on my first farm, and didn’t get any bonus from that at all. The next time I skipped fixing the farm without any consequence at all. I found it cute to place my veggies and haystacks but seeing there is no reason for it that part of the game could have been omitted.
There are also bonus levels where you have to tilt to guide four coins into a bucket. The tilt controls work really well, but the bonus levels feel a bit out of place in the game. As you don’t actually need the money it is more of a distraction than a needed piece of the game. You can choose to play the bonus levels straight from the main menu. As a standalone game it works much better, and adds a bit of extra value to the game.
Presentation and graphics
Cash Cow has bright and cute graphics with some nice effects when you combine coins into a dollar or use a powerup. The farm feels a bit lifeless even when I have bought everything for it. The tilt bonus games also feel a bit uninspired.
The music drives me nuts after just a couple of minutes; happy farm music is not my style at all. The sound effects are fairly good with the odd moo. The voiced tutorial is a neat inclusion. If you have your own music going it keeps playing it together with the sound effects. You also have the ability to select your own playlists from within the game.
The basic gameplay of combining coins is fun even though it is a bit on the easy side. That is until the final levels when the difficulty ramps up to ultra frustratingly hard.
Until then the touch controls have been more or less flawless. When you have really short time to complete the level the coin selecting/unselecting becomes to slow. Often I have felt the urge to throw my iPhone into the wall when I have had like $45 out of $50 just to have my wrong selection of coins not letting go.
The tilt bonus levels have good controls but just as the farm building it feels disconnected from the actual coin combining. And as neither your amount of collected money or state of the farm matters you might as well skip those parts of the game.
An annoying aspect is that after making it to level 25 in the arcade mode I started the relaxed mode. Even though I had played the game for hours I had to go through the tutorial again, sloppy.
Cash Cow has five different game modes, but the arcade story mode is probably the only mode that is challenging enough to be interesting. There are no achievements, high scores or unlockables beyond farm equipment and bonus levels. Still you will get more than a Buck worth of fun out of Cash Cow.
Cash Cow is a fun casual puzzler, and even though it is a bit confused and uneven when it comes to the level of challenge I can recommend it. You will have a fun time playing Cash Cow, and the first time through story mode you will enjoy painting your barn and saving up for a banjo, even though it doesn’t affect the game.