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Can’t wait for Farmville for iPhone? Here are some alternatives

Farmville remains a social gaming phenomenon, with more than 64 million monthly active players on Facebook – including most of my family and friends, judging by the endless stream of lost cows and new tractors in my Facebook feed.

Until now, the game has remained an entirely webby thing, though, which is why the announcement of Farmville for iPhone earlier this month was such big news.

Mark Pincus, CEO of the game’s publisher Zynga, explained that the game will be out by the end of this month, and will synchronise fully with the Facebook version – if you’ve spent a good few months building your perfect farm, it’ll pop up the first time you run the iPhone game.

The iPhone port will also let you buy virtual items, including a snow leopard that will only be available to iPhone players.

“For those of you who don’t regularly farm, well, you should!” said Pincus when showing the game off at Apple’s WWDC conference. But what if you can’t wait a couple of weeks? The demand for a game like Farmville on the iPhone can be seen in the fact that there are already a bunch of iPhone titles inspired by the game, which will now all be girding their loins for battle with the Big Daddy.

We Rule is probably the closest iPhone game to the Farmville formula, although it lacks its deeper social aspects. Although nominally about building a kingdom rather than a farm, planting and harvesting crops are still a big part of the action, along with choosing from more than 50 buildings for your kingdom.

Friends can then come and order goods from those buildings – earning you cash for further upgrades. We Rule has suffered from technical problems since its launch earlier this year, and its servers still occasionally fall over. Even so, it’s as close as anyone has come to emulating the addictive nature of Farmville on Facebook. It’s also got an iPad version.

Tap Farm is also worth a look, although it’s a more direct clone of Farmville, and again misses the deeper social aspects of swapping items and communicating with friends. It offers a familiar formula of buying seeds, planting crops, and harvesting them to earn cash for more seeds, animals, trees and farm buildings. It lets you visit farms of your friends to see how they’re doing, but that’s about it on the social side. As with We Rule, you can pay extra to accelerate your progress in the game, via in-app payments.

iFarm by PlayMesh is another iPhone game that’s clearly been modelled on Farmville, with isometric graphics and a grid-based system for planting your crops. As with its rivals, it’s all about earning virtual money to buy tools, seeds and decorations. Its simplicity means it’s easy to get into, but you could argue it’s also missing the reasons why tens of millions of people can’t stop firing Farmville up several times a day.

Want something different? Zombie Farm mixes up the Farmville formula for iPhone by focusing on the undead. It’s less Plants vs Zombies, and more Zombies Harvesting Plants. There are 15 zombies to employ to shamble around your farm, with the basic game mechanics still revolving around fruit’n’veg. However, the ability to plant corpses as well as crops is fun, as are the more gamelike aspects like farm invasions. As ever, in-app payments are a big part of the game to get extra items.

Finally, there’s SuperFarm, which boasts the eye-watering price of £39.99, even if it does offer more multiplayer aspects than the games above – you can work with a ‘Barn Buddy’ to make your farm a success. Is that worth 40 quid though? With the real Farmville on the way to iPhone, we sense a price drop may be imminent.

Recombu Recommends… Farmville addicts may not settle for anything less than the real thing, which is due out by the end of this month. However, in the meantime, We Rule is well worth a look for its depth, while Zombie Farm is great fun with a few twists on the formula.

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