In Bud Farms: Grass Roots, you're farming bud in a fairly optimistic future where potheads have formed their own nation. While the game appears to be just another weed-themed Farmville clone, Bud Farms actually has a lot of heart.
When you start Bud Farms, you're greeted by an ageing hippie who runs you briefly through the available economies: grow weed, sell weed, use the coins from selling weed to upgrade your grow op. It's a tried and true mobile formula and the game rarely deviates from the assumed norms of the format. Against all odds, I like this game a lot.
Although I have parents who lived in Southern California in the 70s and, if family photos are to be trusted, engaged in hippie culture, they moved to New England and scrubbed all the tie die and bell bottoms from my upbringing.
To their great relief, I've never much liked smoking anyhow -- getting baked made me uncomfortably anxious, and I already spend too much my life in that state. In short: there's nothing about Bud Farms: Grass Roots that should even remotely appeal to me. And yet, here I sit, my phone rapidly draining battery as I grow some weed to sell so I can upgrade my bulbs.
I was slightly sceptical when I checked out the reviews for Bud Farms and saw that it had a full five stars on the App Store, but honestly, it is just a solid game. While there's a lot of waiting for timers to tick down in order to harvest plants, I don't feel like I'm being pushed into spending real money.
You're given quite a bit of the luxury item Bat Guano, which grows plants instantly, at the start of the game, and you'll earn more with log in bonuses at a steady clip. It manages to even make those slow moving timers feel more active. Occasionally you'll have to groom your plants free from spiderwebs, and you'll also need to keep an eye on them in the short term in order to water them.
What Bud Farms also does well is to create a sense of community within its game. In order to earn money, you're growing weed for people's specific needs. All those people have unique portraits and names, and after a bit I found myself being able to anticipate their needs on sight. Cletus likes the cheapest weed, while Willie, a hiker, likes the more expensive Northern Lights.
As you unlock more strains, repeat customers might change up their orders. Someone who was previously satisfied with just some Maui Waui may add a bit of OG Kush. Out of all the characters, I particularly like Dave, the handyman who lives out in the shed and, in the canon of the game, does all the upgrades. He just seems like a real nice guy.
There's something Animal Crossing-esque about the way the game tries to draw you in through characters. Indeed, the quests system wherein you sell your product reminds me a lot of the quest system that Animal Crossing: New Leaf introduced late last year. Bud Farms is less a game about weed and more a game about serving a community -- if it has any message, it's saying that people who smoke weed are well, just people.
The reviews for Bud Farms: Grass Roots are so unlike the ones for rapper Wiz Khalifa's similar game, Wiz Khalifa's Weed Farm. People don't like this game just because they smoke weed -- Bud Farms is a rare free to play mobile game that feels like it respects its players and creates a charming little world. While I feel a little weird playing a game about a drug I don't enjoy, Bud Farms has certainly won me over.