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“Playfirst” and “Gamelab, the same team that gave us a sweet, little game you might have heard called “Diner Dash” has buddied up again with “Plantasia”.
So it’s no coincidence if it looks, and sounds so similar.

An essential element of all successful casual games are ones that deliver familiar concepts to get the player up and running with a game quickly, one they can relate to and find enjoyment in doing. This is done to create a game that is both fresh as well as nostalgic to the player. The familiar “chores” actually help the player to achieve the “I-can-do-this” kind of game feeling.

In “Plantasia” the goal isn’t to serve as many customers as possible in the time allowed but to plant as many seeds as possible!

You play the role of Holly, a fairy in training. Holly has one final test to pass before she can earn her wings and get real magic: she has to grant someone a wish. She stumbles on an old neglected estate garden filled with weeds and wilted flowers- a real dump! The huge estate is owned by a bitter recluse named Jack, Holly decides that he is the perfect candidate for a wish. We must help her tidy up the gardens and restore all of the fountains to their former glory.
So let’s see what we have learned so far shall we, Jack who is the sole heir to a huge estate, and one who could very easily hire a gardener, needs Holly’s help? Not to mention , our fairy Holly is granting some lame ass wishes let me tell ya! Ah well what do you give a guy who’s got everything though right?

The basics of the gameplay are very simple.Dig, Plant, Gather, and Protect. These are all done using the mouse, so no matter which of these tasks you're performing, it only takes a single click.
Once in the garden, the first thing you'll need to do is dig. With shovel in hand, you dig into the land by clicking on dirt patches, and smashing up any rocks that get in your way. Once the holes are dug, you'll be planting a variety of seeds that will sprout into one of the 35 bright, colorful, grinning flowers. Yeah, you read that right! All of the flowers in this dilapidated garden have cute, happy, smiling faces.

Some patches of ground are circled with "fairy dust", and planting the right flower in the just the right spot will help them grow faster and larger and earn you more points. Once a plant has bloomed, you'll click on it to gather the flowers, scoring mana points (sort of a magical energy). You earn bonus points if a row of similar plants have all bloomed at once. Points are spent buying more seeds, upgrading your tools, and ultimately restoring the garden's fountain before time runs out.

If there is one thing to be said about the look of “Plantasia”, it's that it is vibrant. There is color absolutely everywhere, and tiny bits of animation at every corner. The game displays the same cute trademark cartoony style that made us fall in love with “Diner Dash”.

Speaking of which, as I mentioned earlier the game runs on the same basic principles as “Diner Dash”. If you think of the young seedlings in the garden as customers, the similarities become pretty clear. You seat the customer (plant it), take its order (water it) and then hustle it out the door (harvest it) only to start the cycle over again
You must also defend your garden from weeds, insects, that are all lurking nearby to make life difficult for you. Gardening tools are earned throughout the levels such as pesticides, rakes, shovels, watering cans and wheelbarrows.

“Plantasia” is a sweet well meaning game, but one that I found way way, too easy and quite frankly smothering. It holds your hand every step of the way, excessively at times. Much like an over protective mother it doesn’t allow you much breathing room to do your own decision making.
The basic nature of any good RTS game is one that challenges you to manage your available resources in the best productive way as well multi-tasking. Here the gameplay mechanics seem to have been set on "auto curser". For example let’s say I want to dig a hole. All I had to do is drag my mouse there and presto I was given a shovel icon. Great, I guess I will start digging then! Once I was finished digging presto change-o my shovel automatically changed to a seed icon. Great, I guess I’ll plant a seed then! This type of help happened most of the time, in fact the cursor automatically changed to the appropriate tool to use on whatever I scrolled my mouse over. I found myself half heartedly clicking my mouse around the screen and letting the game play for me.

I can't decide if I liked this game or not. On one hand, it was a sweet easygoing game, that will definitely appeal to those who are just looking for a quick, cutesy type of game to play for a couple of idle hours. On the other hand I wish it could have added just a tad more strategy elements for those of us casual gamers out there looking for some challenge.

Hey Holly, got any more fairy dust on ya? Because your game could use a little help!

Get Plantasia Here

Graphics B
Sound B
Pickup & Play C
Overall Fun C-

Posted by oxyjen on Jan 15, 2007


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