Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
While plenty of games on the App Store are appropriate for kids, Smile Plants with its giggles, rainbows, and flowers feels like it’s only for children. At least it’s a well-made kid’s game though, one that manages to be more than the sum of its simple parts. Just know that this isn’t one for the hardcore crowd.
Smile Plants isn’t the most interesting match-three puzzle game or the most interesting gardening game but put together each part compliments the other quite nicely. Each session of puzzling represents growing a new plant for the garden. First a seed has to be planted and then each round the sprout will call out for a new, specific resource before it can continue growing. It’s a neat twist that adds some strategy beyond “match everything in sight” and there’s even a little tension in trying to finish each round and reset the timer before the game’s over.
Then there’s the larger gardening meta-game. To start a puzzle round players must plant seeds but they are limited. The game provides some periodically but other, special seeds are obtained through friends, challenges and, of course, real money. New seeds lead to a more diverse garden and even new kinds of puzzle challenges. For example, beanstalk seeds have no set end point. The challenge is to survive a puzzle as long as possible to have the stalk grow as high as it can. However, players that are content with a more modest garden can just replay matches using their existing plants to level them up and win bonus challenges.
Smile Plants is about positive reinforcement and nowhere is that more obvious than in its presentation. The game is almost overwhelmingly bright, cheery, and full of color. Combo chains lead to endless successions of babies laughing and announcers saying “good job!” It helps that the puzzles themselves are never too difficult. Gardening is a little more peaceful but as one might expect, Smile Plants has no shortage of intensely smiling plants.
Smile Plants takes all of the serenity out of nature and fills it full of video game insanity. What kid wouldn’t love that? It’s like going outside but better.