Developer: Game Atelier
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Flowers need sun and rain to grow. Rain comes from clouds. Got it? Then we’re ready to jump into SunFlowers. This casual arcade game might be worth a dollar, particularly for kids, but nothing about the title warrants the near-premium price.
Players move the sun to align it with a fluffy white cloud where they intersect above a seed, tapping to launch a sunray into the puff. That creates a raindrop to feed the flower. It takes about six drops for buds to reach maturity, at which point the full-grown blossoms move to the garden leaving behind empty slots and new seeds to fill them. Seeds fall and clouds scurry faster as players progress and timing a shot of sunlight to pierce several clouds at once yields mega drops that supercharge plant development. Players must avoid storm clouds that throw lightening and direct sun-to-seed contact both of which set blooms ablaze. There are also bonus rounds where moonbeams feed the flowers.
Flowers thrive year-round largely impervious to the effects of snows and squalls with sunlight melting the ice and shakes clearing falling leaves off the screen. Play continues until three flowers are burned. In Casual or Normal mode this takes a long time; the game awards extra lives generously and two hot flashes are needed to kill what must be the most resilient flora ever. After 30 rounds in Classic I implemented my own Scorched Earth policy, eager to see if the Tropical world had more to offer.
I gave SunFlowers an extra 20 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back (and still failed to unlock Extreme mode) to discover it’s just a skin. What a waste! My nine-year-old lit up with glee over the creepy backgrounds and adorably evil assortment of pirate-themed florets. But the developers don’t do anything with the great atmosphere. There is no variation of gameplay that isn’t purely cosmetic. They could have gone campy with some high-seas-themed mini-games Plants vs Zombies- style, or added thematic baddies - anything to vary the pace. The whole game is utterly devoid of humor. Even the theme song is a hokum rendition of Vivaldi’s “Spring Allegro.” Seriously? Chopin’s "Funeral March" is more apt, at least when the moon becomes an oddly angelic ghoul.
Each of the worlds does have 160 or more varieties of collectable plants and players can cross pollenate to create new species. But everything in both gardens feels random so instead of adding replay value they become another squandered opportunity for SunFlowers to be witty or innovative.
SunFlowers has the raw ingredients of a decent $.99 casual game: simple premise, one-touch controls, cute graphics, and collectables. But, the lack of irony coupled with redundant gameplay leaves me scratching my head over the price tag. For $3.99, I would definitely pass.