iPhone Life magazine

Review: Bloomies by Phantoom

Confession time – I’m not sure I ever actually read the description of Bloomies before I agreed to review it.  The screen shots looked cool and a friend said that he and his wife were into it, so that was good enough for me.  Then I loaded it up and was like “hey, this is another garden game”.  As a result, it took me a few tries before I really was willing to give the game a chance.  Turns out that was just sadly wasted game time on my part.  While this isn’t the kind of game you’ll play for hours at a time, it’s definitely the kind of game you could play for weeks on end.  It doesn’t seem right that a game about growing flowers could be so intriguing, but then that’s part of what makes gaming so great.

The object behind Bloomies is to grow the best garden you can grow.  The prime ingredient to your garden is flowers, and there are plenty to choose from.  You start the game with a simple tulip to plant, but as you’ll eventually be able to unlock up to 15 more plant types, including a cactus, a pumpkin and a pineapple.  To put a plant in the garden you click on the shovel icon and then click on the ground where you’d like to put the plant.  The plant selection screen will come up and you make your choice.  Don’t worry if it’s not exactly where you’d like it – you can uproot your plants at any time and move them somewhere else.

My Garden
 

To interact with a plant you tap on it, at which point a menu comes up.  Two of the items allow you to move and delete a bloomie, which are pretty self explanatory.  The cloud icon allows you to water the bloomie.  You’ll be doing this to each bloomie at last once each day when you open the application.  I’m not quite sure how time passes in bloomies, but I’ve had to water mine both times I opened the app today.  You’ll know you need to water a bloomie because they will look really sad and forlorn.  The other thing you can do with a flower is collect pollen.  More on that later…

The other prime inhabitant of the garden is the bee.  You start off with one bee, but eventually you’ll be able to buy more.  Bees gather nectar, and once they’ve gathered 100 units of nectar you get a “honey” coin.  This is the monetary unit of the garden, so it’s what you’ll use to be more flowers, more bees, and decorations for the garden.  Remember that pollen you collected from the flowers?  Each unit of pollen can temporarily supercharge one bee, allowing them to collect massive amounts of nectar for a couple of seconds.  To supercharge a bee simply click on it, then click on the pollinate button.  For a short period of time you should notice your money increasing a lot more quickly.  You can also manipulate garden decorations, but there’s nothing exciting to do there.  You either move them or delete them.

When you do certain things like planting new bloomies or adding a decoration you earn experience points.  There are also certain milestones, such as planting a certain number of bloomies, which earn you extra experience.  When you earn enough experience you go up a level, and this earns you stars.  Stars are used to upgrade the beehive and eventually to increase the performance of certain aspects of the game, like making bloomies cheaper to buy or causing them to produce more nectar.  You can also get stars once a day by clicking on the sun.  The game is OpenFeint enabled, and the milestones that you shoot for are basically the OpenFeint achievements.  However, you can view what you’ve accomplished simply by clicking the star in the lower left corner of the screen, so you don’t have to wander into the OpenFeint interface if you don’t want to.

Which Bee Be Yer Pleasure?



The fact that you have OpenFeint achievements and things to strive for like upgrading the beehive and unlocking new plants is what really makes the game worth playing.  Of course it doesn’t hurt any that you don’t have to constantly stare at the game to progress in it, and the bloomies themselves are so adorable!  There are a couple of minor down sides to the game, though.  It would be nice if there were a fast forward button for those times when you’re “this” close to an achievement and you just want to speed things up a bit.  At the same time it would be great if you could effectively “pause” the game so nothing transpired while you weren’t playing it.  This would especially be helpful if you knew you might not be able to get to it for a few days.  I’m not sure if bloomies can die on you or not, but I’d hate to go to my garden after a few days off and see it be a barren wasteland.  Finally, a way to mass water all bloomies that need it would be wonderful.  I don’t mind going to each one individually, but it does get tedious sometimes.

The graphics in Bloomies are incredibly cute.  In fact, you might catch the more “manly” players out there going “blech” at the visuals just to disguise the fact that they actually like the game.  The flowers are all smiley and they seem to be gently swaying in some non-existent breeze.  My favorite so far is the baby cactus, a cute little green puffball with his little tongue hanging out.  The bees are great too, and there are some really cool looking ones that I can’t wait until I can afford.  However, it would be nice if they did a bit more every once in a while than just buzzing back and forth from flower to flower.

A Butterfly!

 

The sound effects are a mixed bag.  Hearing the chime and pop of a flower producing nectar and its subsequent collection by a bee gets old after a while.  However, I can’t help but chuckle every time a flower laughs.  The music is nice and light and easy to listen to.  Despite having my headphones on and listening to the song while working on other stuff, I'm still not tired of it yet.

This game won’t be for everyone.  You won’t get the adrenaline rush you’d experience from a racing or FPS game.  You won’t feel like you’re being rewarded for wrapping your mind around some complex puzzle or for strategically defeating the opposition.  However, what you will get is a nice, relaxing game that you can play for a few minutes and then tuck away until the next day when you’re ready to play for a few minutes again.  Or, you can do like I do – turn the game on, go about doing whatever else you might want to do on your computer or whatever, and then just stop every once in a while to look and see how your flowers are doing.  If you can handle that kind of pacing, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy Bloomies.

Overall Score: 9/10
App Store Link

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.