After years spent toiling away in the kitchen, Mama is long overdue for some outside time. In Gardening Mama, she heads outdoors to tend her fertile gardens (plural!) and reaps a full harvest of brand-new minigames that range from educational to dull, from amusing to downright preposterous. The game starts off calmly as you plant a variety of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, but once you've got a good number of plants growing, you'll find that there just isn't enough time in the day. You'll be running from planting bed to orchard, tending to plants that are wilting before they wither and die. Although this isn't exactly relaxing, it gives Gardening Mama a momentum that was lacking in its culinary predecessors. It retains the same supercute aesthetic that will charm some players and annoy others, and, despite its breadth, the action is quite shallow. Nevertheless, with newfound momentum and the satisfying reward of seeing your garden grow into a colorful, fruitful landscape, Gardening Mama is uniquely fun and playable.6207770None
When you first visit your garden, you'll be able to plant only a handful of flowers. Tulips, morning glories, and pansies serve as your introduction, though later you'll cultivate more exotic species such as dahlia, gladiolus, and freesia. As you progress you'll gain access to the fruit orchard, veggie garden, and rose garden, each with its own array of plants to grow. You maneuver easily around your gardens by steering a big icon around the screen with the stylus, which is a picture of Mama's head bordered by four heart-shaped arrows. Navigating this way is a bit odd, and it's disappointing that you can't maneuver Mama around herself. There are large icons next to each plant that tell you its status and clutter up the screen a bit, but the flowers are brightly colored and distinctly designed, so you can tell what the blossom of, say, an anemone looks like (it doesn't have tentacles). It's quite satisfying to watch your plants grow and bloom or bear fruit, and most will stick around for a while and let you appreciate the fruits of your labor.
You can also spruce up your gardens with gift items such as arbors, potting trays, and gnomes, allowing you even more decorative freedom in your garden. You earn these presents by doing well in the minigames that comprise the bulk of Gardening Mama's gameplay. To fully grow any given plant, you'll play at least 10 minigames, all of which are controlled with the stylus (with the exception of a few that use the microphone). Just planting corn consists of seven different tasks that generally last no more than 10-20 seconds each. This level of detail is initially appealing because it is interesting to see what kinds of things proper gardeners actually do when planting seeds. However, it does wear a bit thin when you're planting your fifth species of flower and performing the same planting action. Fortunately, the actions begin to diversify as each plant matures and requires unique treatment, resulting in a fairly robust and varied suite of minigames.
Mama has some serious acreage.