While fans of Nintendo’s adorable RTS series have been patiently waiting for the rumored next mainline launch, Niantic has unveiled the new Pikmin mobile experience to pass the time, an app that looks suspiciously similar to the company’s previous project involving Nintendo ( or property of at least Nintendo). Pokémon GO 2016 has become a worldwide phenomenon and a colossal source of income for all parties involved, so you will be forgiven for thinking that this time the creators have similar ambitions. Just looking at the screens of this latest collaboration, which likewise uses Google’s mapping technology to create a game from the world around you, it definitely looks like “another” Pokémon GO. However, Pickmin Bloom is a very different beast; an app that looks more like a “pedometer with benefits” than an all-encompassing sink of time, but with which we enjoyed the time.
It is best to set expectations from the beginning. As you’d expect, Bloom won’t satisfy fans hungry for Pikmin 4, and despite the underlying mechanics and systems, it only looks like GO. Niantic’s all-conquering sister name has certainly grown and expanded almost beyond recognition since launch, but while Picmin Bloom encourages you to go out and sow seeds or make giant Poké Stop-style flowers bloom, the interactions and challenges it contains remain far less demanding. than catch and train pocket monsters, fight in gyms, trade and raid with friends. By design, this is a much more balanced experience.
Perhaps too soothing for Pokémon GO veterans looking for the same buzz. Pikmin Bloom is more like a small, friendly company on a walk, and the app is fine when turned off and left on in the background. You won’t miss out on the gym or rare loot here, and your Pikmin buddies will collect whatever you go through.
The main loop is as follows: you walk around the neighborhood with a small but growing (!) Group of Pikmin buddies who collect fruits and items as you wander. When pressed, the fruit turns into different varieties of nectar, depending on the color, which is fed to your picmin (up to six times a day), causing the flowers on their heads to bloom. Clicking on the petals adds them to your inventory and can be used to initiate a time-limited flower-planting binge that leaves a lovely colorful trail wherever you go before these petals run out.
The petals obtained from rarer fruits have different colors with faster plant growth, and the flora they leave visible on your map is more than decorative. Sowing flowers around giant leaves – essentially Poké Stops – causes them to bud and eventually bloom, providing more fruit to harvest. This creates more nectar and petals and more decorations as you continue your march through the city, scattering flowers and decorations as the numbers grow with each step.
You can choose to have your flower footprints visible to everyone, although as the only player in our area, this social aspect was not taken into account in our time with the game during the launch period. In fact, we had to go around the giant buds several times to plant the required 300 flowers and see them bloom – which should become much more regular as people play and lay their own paths again. There is a Friends tab where you can add friends and plant flowers with others, and this will give the experience a whole new social dimension if that’s what you’re looking for. Otherwise, the game works great alone.
Just like in Pokémon GO, fulfilling certain criteria will level up, expand your squad, and provide one-time special plant slots and other items to help you grow your army further. Pikmin is grown by planting seedlings in slots (there are always two available, with room for four more disposable pots) and filling the step counter like eggs in Pokémon GO. A common red, blue and yellow picmina needs 1000 steps to grow, a purple picmina needs 3000, very large seedlings need 10,000, and so on. You have the option to name each picmina, although it is a little time consuming. Each has an expandable friendship level (if you’re friendly enough they can bring you a decor-related gift) and their “birthplace” is recorded, so it’s a good idea to give them all names if you’re that inclined. However, we soon grew tired of the hard work, so the only named members of our team are our trusty Reds duo Pickmin, Tony and Hopkins.
A special detector item can be used once a day (or you can pay 100 coins to quickly charge it for another use) to find nearby items that Pikmin can get through expeditions – and they can even bring postcards from the area where they were. visited. There are “achievement” badges to collect and the special Pikmin decor in little hats and suits. All this is a very charming company in your daily walk.
The game will display daily notes when you are not walking, letting you know how you were doing yesterday, or letting you know what the weather is doing today. Much of the game includes your Lifelog, a calendar-style summary of your steps, an overview of the planted flowers, and an accompanying screenshot taken from your film roll – it could be a cherished memory or any old gif you downloaded that day for fun. This is another factor that makes this experience softer than Pokémon and one that integrates into your routine rather than taking it over.
In terms of monetization, anyone who has played GO will find Pickmin Bloom’s Store very familiar, although without being able to fight in gyms, we were making coins very slowly. The store features limited-time packs available along with all the resources you find or generate naturally in the game, as well as fast-growing special slots, storage upgrades – all of which can be purchased with coins. We did not feel the need to spend money during the launch period, although this may change as our army grows in the coming weeks and months. There’s nothing glaring here to worry about if you’re wary of the little things from Niantic – it’s all very relaxed and civilized; it shows that it comes from a company that would definitely like your money, but absolutely not need this to keep the light on.
Augmented Reality Mode (optional) here is also slightly better suited to the Pikmin universe, with tiny guys running around on whatever surface your phone detects when you activate it. You can turn on a light that dims the screen and activates your phone’s flashlight to draw them wherever you point your phone. A bit funny, which reminds us of 3DS augmented reality maps. You won’t lose much if you never use it, but it’s cute anyway. The sound in the app is also charming, with a wide ditty that plays when you activate the planting of flowers and skip the street, being a particular earworm. The soft howl of your Pikmin – and the pleasant crackle when you pull a fully grown out of its growing slot – is just as cute as it gets in the main games.
All of these elements come together in a package which, while far from mandatory, is absolutely worth checking out as the entry fee is exactly zero dollars / pounds / euros / Hungarian lunch vouchers. As we said in our review, the most striking thing about the game is how laid-back it is – how confident Niantic is in the core experience of letting you go about your day without nudging or pushing you towards the screen. mindlessly or incorporate many digital tasks into your busy schedule. In an environment where so many games are fighting for your time and are trying their best to get maximum attention and seed FOMO every chance they get, Pickmin Bloom acts surprisingly easily.
And we must say that we really appreciate it. It is highly likely that the game will continue to evolve in the coming months – just as Pokémon GO has changed a lot since launch – and perhaps that will provide additional incentive to spend money. However, at the time of writing, Pikmin Bloom is one of the easiest free games we’ve played. Clearly Niantic has fixed a lot of kinks through experimentation and experience with Pokémon GO, and it’s impressive that the same technology produces an impression that has such a different, more relaxing tone despite its superficial resemblance.
Pikmin Bloom is more of a life companion app than something to feverishly gobble up as long as the battery allows – it’s a much healthier experience for body and mind than many free games, and Niantic does its job well. … Time will tell if it has a bit of Pokémon GO stamina and cravings in it, but where this game can seem like an irresistible uplift if you put it off for a while, with no hope of catching up with them all, Pickmin Bloom is more like an old friend. which you haven’t seen in years, but you just pick up where you left off. Ignite him with relevant expectations and you are likely to have a good time with him.