Tuesday 16 October 2012

Great Pet App: Sweet Garden

Have you been looking for a pet simulation game for your android? I have, and with Sweet Garden I have found one, except its for plants instead of animals. From my point of view, that means less food to feed, and less used food to clean up. No leash or collars necessary. No dog license, or shots. You get the idea...well, sort of. You can still feed it (soil and water), music, pet it to make it more comfortable, and put a pot around its roots. There is so much more to the app than that. This app is a combination of multiple apps to support the main app. Hack and slash weeds around it (Fruit Ninja) and Whack a mole. By checking up on your plant, you can maintain it's health and watch it grow. It has a lot in similarity with those virtual pet games like Tamagotchi back in the days. However, the 2D Graphics are very up to date compared to those things. If you find that you might not have time for your pet, there's an option to slow down the app. Oh and your pet is referred to as a PPU in the app. Choose from a dozen types of PPU's to raise. The app is FREE and Fun.

With your Sweet Garden app you need to use a widget. The widget shows your plant in it's current phase of growth. The widget may even display your battery life. You may choose from a mini widget(size of an app icon) to put on a homescreen or a Full sized widget that will an area of 2 icons by 2 icons. It seems you can put two icons on a home screen, but only one of the widgets will have a plant. Still, it's something I've never seen before for an app. And it's appropriate and cool.

There are four kinds of tools to use in managing your plant. Each tool has a status bar/icon on the top right of the screen when selected. When that tool is used, this bar depletes. Tap on the icon and choose from a selection of in-game purchases with game currency replenish the bar.

 Watering your plant is the most frequent responsibility you have with your plant, just like in real life. Unlike in reality however you don't have to give it soil. Maybe someone does this for you already, but you may replace the soil to speed up your plants growth rate. Give it water by using the bucket tool, then taping or touching an area above your plant. You don't directly get points for watering your plant unless you give your pet just the right amount of water, which is tricky and only gives you a few SS. SS stands for Silver Seeds and are one of the two currencies in the game. Gold Seeds (GS) are rarer, like the gold currencies commonly found in apps.

If there are bugs around, get a can and spray non poisonous insecticides by tapping on the insects. Sometimes it will take more than just instant contact to kill a critter. They will drop points upon their destruction. Make sure to tap the points to collect them.

Surrounding weeds will steal water and nutrients from your plant. Take care of these by using the trimmer/scissor tool. Once the tool is selected, hack and slash the unwanted leachers. It will take more than one cut to get rid of each plant. When you clear away a weed, it will drop some SS points too.

Keep your pet's area clean. Do this by using the rag tool and wiping the screen. The tutorial isn't very fluid. It let me waste my cleaning rag trying to clean the screen. At that time I didn't know using the rag would use up the rags energy bar. There is an inapp game manual for the app that can be accessed from the apps main menu. It's located in the top left of the screen. During the game, when you can see your plant without entering any sub-menu's, a button in that same location can be pressed and it will show you an overview explanation of the in game display screen telling the player what the onsceen icons means. Here is what it looks like as it is very helpful.

There are three items that you can buy in store to help your PPU grow. These are activated on your current pet once you purchase them.

- Soil - Makes the plant grow faster (Green bar indicates growth towards being fully grown)

- Medicine - restores the plants health towards full health. (health bar indicated with cross)

- Music - Pet your pet after buying to increase your pets happiness. (there is a happiness bar with a heart)

Every 2 Hours it will be time for you to collect seeds. There is a seed bar indicated with a sun. When that bar is full, a sun will be in the sky on the left. Click it and seeds will appear. The healthier and happier your plant, the more seeds it will produce and the better your chances are at getting Gold seeds. Make sure to increase your chances before clicking the sun.

Sweet Garden has some sweet Settings. The settings are explained to you upon toggle. This way you know what you just did and can quickly undoing without harm.
-Turn off background music.
-Turn off other sounds.
-Change the whether or not the game vibrates.
-There is a very convenient sleep mode to slow down the dangers and growth of your plant while you are away for sleeping. I am not sure what notifications are toggled on and off by the notification option from the settings. Your PPU will notify you if there are groups of bugs or weeds, if it's thirsty, or if it's ready to give you seeds via the Sun icon.
-Battery status in the widget,
-Animation,  (Not sure what animations are turned off)
-Pet Dialogue,
-and whether Sweet Garden app is on or not. (That's what it says, but I don't fully understand what this means.)

 Mini Games
I only have one minigame (out of 2, more is suppose to be coming soon) available because it's unlocked from the start. A second minigame will become available upon unlocking the second background, the desert. Wack-A-Mole is much like the classic game except with some welcomed updates. Moles come out of more than 10 locations.  Missing a whack with a hammer, or letting a mole submerge will deplete your progress bar. The progress bar is on the top center of the page. The mini game ends when the progress bar is gone. There are more than two types of moles.
-Regular Brown moles which require one hit to get rid of
-Yellow construction hat moles which take two hits to disappear.
-Black construction hat moles take 3 hits to demolish.
- Dirty Muddy Moles -  Will get mud on your screen if you smack them.

There's another creature that is in this game. They are cute little white bunny rabbits. Do not hit these Rabits as they will deplete your progress bar by more than 60% of the whole bar. For some reason their eyes look exactly like a moles eyes when peeping out of a burrow. Once you get to about 100 whacks, the game gets difficult. Whacks don't directly transfer into amount of SS received. You get less SS than successful whacks done. Not every set of eyes that pop out, will have the animal pop up. It may just go away. Although there is no pause button, pressing "return" on your android device will pause it. Exiting mid game will not get you any SS.

Minor suggestions for further updates. First, the game should do better job of explaining some of the terms like SS and GS. I don't know what punishing the plant accomplishes. And the instructions say rub/pet when the player hears the music buff, however I can pet it as long as the music purchased is playing and that will make the plant happier. The app could be made so the player cannot make errors or use up tools more than necessary for the tutorial. Explain what the Shovel Menu is(I made the name up, because I don't know what it's called). From the main menu there is a Shovel icon on the upper right hand corner of the screen. It takes you to a Shovel Menu. In here you may change the plant you want to work on by clicking on the red icon, located on the bottom of the screen 2nd most to the left, then clicking the Shovel. After selecting your seed you can click the shovel on the bottom to have it selected as the plant to grow during the app. Only this plant will grow/need help, so I don't see why the app lets you have more than one widget(and without a warning). If you already have a seed, don't plant another one. Each time you plant a seed it costs 1000 SS. Upon entering the Shovel menu, a selection of new seeds will pop up. Ignore this until you are ready to plant another plant. Just go click on other icons on the bottom of the screen or "return" to the main menu. Also EVERY TIME you exit the manual from the main menu, the app tells/reminds you that you need  a widget to play/run the app (kinda annoying after a few times). Maybe have the plant giggle when petted(although that may sound a little creepy).Maybe add a high score to the Mole minigame. All in all a lot of the user interface is friendly and/or self explanatory like the settings button. And there are some language barriers so it's understandable to have some explanation problems. For a app that's not originally in English, the app gets almost all of it's English correct.

Some Final Words As a Digimon fan I highly welcome and recommend this app.  It's FREE and brought to you by Korean developers at Toast. So far I've only gotten my first plant to about 80% of full grown after 24 hours. I'm not sure what the "check if there are any gifts on the server" does, or if it ever has gifts. I'm still on the first background (with one star). Time restraints on my Fiverr Gig forces me to publish this article review before completion.  I may update this article upon further testing. Sweet Garden takes classic games and combines them in a playable smartphone application with modern graphics and great playability.

Have Fun!


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