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A Review of Niantic's "Pikmin Bloom"

Anne has a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Bachelor's in Language.

Pikmin Bloom is an app-based phone game that tracks your steps as you walk around and plant flowers with your Pikmin.

Pikmin Bloom is an app-based phone game that tracks your steps as you walk around and plant flowers with your Pikmin.

The Advancements of Phone/App Based Gaming

Phone and app-based gaming is not a new phenomenon; it has been going on for years. Now, the community of app-based phone games is growing even larger every single day, and anyone can create their own game for a smart phone if they have some experience in coding apps and building games. Several years ago, a company decided to make an interactive app-based game related to the popular Pokemon franchise. That company was Niantic. They are well-known for games that are playable on smartphones, including Pokemon Go. While initially there was a lot of popularity to these games, over the years there has been less activity and popularity among Niantic’s phone-based games. I started playing Pokemon Go a couple of years ago. While initially interesting and fun, I found that it eventually became more boring, drab, and repetitive. Most Niantic games are set up so that in order to progress and do a lot of the fun things in the game, you will need to pay money for certain packs or expansions. Most people don’t want to invest that kind of money in a phone game. However, I will say that I had a lot of fun playing the game. A few years later, I discovered a game called Pikmin Bloom on my phone, and I found out this was a game also run by Niantic and Nintendo. My initial reason for trying out the app was because I have been wanting to track my steps everyday, and I thought this would be an interesting way to do it. After a few weeks, I can see my initial fun on the app waning a bit, and I’d like to take a little time to tell you about my honest opinion of the game, including some of the perks and drawbacks.

Pikmin are little creatures that eat nectar. Once they consume nectar, they grow a flower on their head and you can pick petals from them in the game. After you pick the petals, you can plant flowers.

Pikmin are little creatures that eat nectar. Once they consume nectar, they grow a flower on their head and you can pick petals from them in the game. After you pick the petals, you can plant flowers.

The Basics of Pikmin Bloom

Pikmin Bloom is largely a game that depends on how much you get up and walk around every single day. Much like Pokemon Go, in order to progress further in the game and get more things, you need to walk a lot. The difference between the two is that Pikmin Bloom is about growing flowers. Pikmin are little characters that help you find seedlings and plant flowers around your community. You collect seedlings which eventually grow into Pikmin. Pikmin find fruits and other objects around that are transferred into flower types. You “feed” your Pikmin by giving them Nectar, which turns into flower petals that you pick and collect. Once you have collected plenty of petals, you will be able to plant flowers as you walk. The map shows you where you have planted flowers, as well as larger areas, such as Mushrooms and large flowers that you can interact with in your area. (These are similar to Pokestops in Pokemon Go and offer you extra things in the game.) In order to level up, you must complete a task and walk a certain amount of steps. Once you level up, you will get more perks in the game as well as achievement medals. There is even an option to “plant with friends”. If you have a friend on the game, you both can walk together and plant flowers together. (I have never tried this feature because I don’t have any friends using the app, but I assume it can give you both some added benefits or perks in the game the more you plant with other people). All of the proper aspects of the game are there for players to progress. But is this game really worth it in the end? Let’s look at the pros and cons of this game more closely.

Once you have picked petals from your Pikmin, they will be stored in your inventory here.

Once you have picked petals from your Pikmin, they will be stored in your inventory here.

Pros

Here is what I liked about the game.

Gets You to Be More Active

If you are simply looking for an app to help you walk more and be more active, this would be the app for you. It tracks your steps everyday and records your progress so that you can see how active you are over the span of days, weeks, and months. Additionally, there are weekly challenges that you can complete with a team. (If you are lucky enough to find someone in the area playing the game.) I tried a weekly challenge of walking 100,000 steps. Unfortunately, I joined the challenge late, only walked half of that, and did not have a team to help win the challenge. However, I do know that you get some rewards for trying the challenge; you just don’t get the rewards promised for winning the challenge, which often include more rare or useful items, such as special nectar.

Helps Pass The Time

Honestly, when I’m stressed and need something to do or I’m feeling bored, I know I can go into the app and feed my Pikmin or plant flowers, check out challenges, or send my Pikmin on expeditions to find items around the area. There are several things to do in the app to help pass the time.

Your Pikmin Will Explore For You

In Pokemon Go, you had to walk to find Pokemon and catch them. However, in Pikmin, there is more of a passive progress to part of the game, enabling your Pikmin to go out and gather seedlings and other items while you might not be walking or in the app. These are called Expeditions, and they help you collect as many items as possible to keep your inventory fully stocked. In order to plant flowers, you have to walk, but a majority of other functions in the game can be completed from the comfort of your own couch.

You grow your seedlings on this screen in the game. Once a seedling has grown, it turns into a Pikmin creature.

You grow your seedlings on this screen in the game. Once a seedling has grown, it turns into a Pikmin creature.

Cons

Here are some flaws of the game.

Limited Progress Between Levels

I am currently on Level 26. By now, I thought I would have progressed a lot more and maybe gained more abilities within the game, but it seems most of the progressions are fairly minimal. You can send more Pikmin to Mushroom Battles and sometimes you get more petals, nectar, or other items. That’s pretty much it. I personally wish that there would be more variety between levels as well as varying tasks between levels. Most of the time, your goals to level up are to either plant or pick flowers and then walk a certain number of steps. After a while, this cycle can get pretty boring.

Limited Types of Flowers

One of the reasons I was initially excited for the game was the idea that I was assuming you could explore, find different types of flowers, and plant them all around. However, when you start the game, you can only plant basic flowers that look like daisies in the colors red, yellow, blue, and white. If you give your Pikmin a red nectar, he will grow a red flower that you can pick, etc. Once I reached a certain level, mushrooms started showing up which brought a new type of flower in the mix; tulips. In order to get tulip petals, you need to “battle” mushrooms by selecting Pikmin to essentially break the mushroom. You are more likely to keep collecting lots and lots of the common flowers though, and you only get a few tulip nectars from each mushroom battle that you clear. I also did notice when I looked at the store the presence of carnation flowers, but I have not gotten any simply by playing the game, and it looks like you need a certain number of “tokens” to purchase a jar of carnation petals in the store.

Store Limits Access and Progression

Just like with Pokemon Go, Pikmin lets you play for free, to an extent. If you want extra items, extra room for inventory, or special “bonus” packs, you have to purchase tokens with real money, and then use those tokens to purchase what you want from the store. I have yet to invest any money in this game because I know how crazy that got when I played Pokemon Go. The main difference between Pikmin and Pokemon Go is that in Pikmin you can earn tokens to use in the store by planting flowers. If you go out and plant 500 flowers, you will receive 1 token. You need about 300 tokens to purchase a bottle of carnation petals and 150 tokens to purchase one “single use” slot to grow a seedling. It’s not hard to see how difficult it is then to earn tokens for free. It takes about 15-20 minutes to plant 500 flowers, and if you go out and only plant 200 flowers, the app doesn’t count that towards a token; it has to be done all at once. I have only earned 19 tokens since I started the game, and I have walked a total of 204,255 steps.

Here, you can see different items that can be purchased in the store in the game with tokens and/or real money.

Here, you can see different items that can be purchased in the store in the game with tokens and/or real money.

Conclusion

Although this is not an extensive list of all the pros and cons of the game, these are the things that have really stuck out to me lately. While the game initially seems like a fun way to keep track of your steps everyday and be active, the game to me lacks the actual “game” and exploration aspect that I was hoping for. Leveling up in the game becomes very routine and monotonous, and in order to get any added benefits, you need to put some money down on the game. For people that just want to use it as a simple way to track steps, it is okay, but if you are looking for a game that goes beyond that and immerses you in another world, this is not the game for you. I will say, despite the negative things I have expressed about my experience with Pokemon Go, I feel like that was at least more exploration based and there were more chances to interact and progress in a more appealing setting. Pikmin Bloom simply just doesn’t make the cut in my list of favorite phone games. I think in order for the app to continue to be successful, Niantic and Nintendo need to consider some of the points I have brought up and open up more opportunities for people to explore the game. Adding more adventure elements could make it even more popular, but we may never see any changes. Despite all this, I am glad I have played in the app because it has helped me track my activity level throughout the day. So, what do you think? Is Pikmin Bloom worth it to you? I’d be interested to hear what others who have played the game have experienced, so feel free to comment below with your own thoughts about the game!

© 2022 Anne Marie Carr