Spread your leaves and expand your roots.
Review written by
December 7th, 2009
Curious and addictive, Flowerworks by Australian Nocturnal Entertainment is a colorful WiiWare title that fits right into the crowd of similar curious, addictive and colorful games that already populate the WiiWare catalog. This point isn't brought up with negative attitude, it merely goes to show how WiiWare has become a safe haven for simple but "artsy" games that come up with unique mechanics.
Going into my review playthrough, I was a bit worried that Flowerworks would prove difficult to judge, seeing as the title alone made me think it was targeted to young girls. Not so (to an extent). While the game certainly is frilly in style, there's something about the experience that made me feel as though it wasn't targeted towards any specific crowd. Whether it was the gameplay mechanics, the music, the simple but serene landscape, or a combination of the three, the reasons for this game's accessibility are hardly transparent.
Please note that while I do not get paid to do reviews, this game was sent to me for free by creators Nocturnal Entertainment.
Nocturnal must have begun development with the creation of the game mechanics, as the entire experience revolves around the player's ability to rack up points in the minigames. However, the minigames are not standalone in nature, as the inclusion of an overworld makes the organization and progression more interesting than just a list of unlockable levels. Depending on how well the player completes each level, he/she is given a number of stars, which can be used to unlock new areas a-la 3D Mario. The landscape also gets beautified the more stars are achieved, making obtaining the stars all the more sweet.
The gameplay itself is both simple and complicated at the same time. The player points the Wiimote to control the character, collecting seeds on the screen that float up to launch them into growing flowers. Simple. Complicated, however, are the several ways to achieve extra points. Shooting a seed at a plant that passes another floating seed first, hitting multiple seeds (forming a bubble), and hitting multiple bubbles all get extra points. Also, colored flowers will only take seeds of the corresponding color, meaning that many potential points are lost by accidentally shooting a flower with the wrong seed.
More mechanics can be purchased throughout, but even the original set of moves express the game's originality enough to make it positive. While not boundary breaking by any means, the game is able to stay enjoyable by altering the rules and difficulties just enough for each level.
Flowerworks has a surprisingly large amount of content for a WiiWare game. While I haven't been able to finish it completely, I can gauge the length by looking at the largest amount of stars needed to unlock an area. The highest is 120 stars to enter a small patch of land with a single level, which I can only imagine is incredibly difficult. Keep in mind that each level only gives a total of 5 stars, meaning that there must be dozens upon dozens of levels.
Once again, unlocking areas and beautifying the landscape is very fulfilling and keeps the game alive for significantly longer than most WiiWare games can even come close to.
While the gameplay is strictly 2D, the overworld is in semi-3D (in that it's a 3D landscape with 2D objects). Stylistically, the game is able to keep itself interesting, even when it's relatively simple. During gameplay, there's a dazzling amount of colorful effects. Despite the grid system the overworld seems to have been built on, the landscape and character art is interesting and above all, pretty. The only negative aspect may be the fact that sometimes it can be too simple. There could have been a tad more flash and the opening cinematic shows this.
On a more technical side, the game runs in widescreen as well as 480p. On my 32" HD TV, it looks very fluid and bright, which is a definite bonus. In general, my reaction to the graphics are very positive for a WiiWare title.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sound in Flowerworks. While the effects weren't superb, their use was impressive enough for me to point out. The music in particular is so soothing and relaxing that I doubt it would ever get old for me. While nothing stood out as catchy, they just worked for keeping me calm even after getting angry over the difficulty of some of the levels. For game music to do that, it must be well done.
Flowerworks is an impressive work that, for a lot of people, will inspire hours of play time. Aided by clever gameplay, nice stylization (albeit typical stylization) and potentially a very long lifespan, it should remain among the better of the games on WiiWare. As for the price, it costs 1000 Wii points ($10). While I will say the game may not have enough variety in gameplay for the more hardcore, it does have such a large amount of sheer content to keep any completionist happy.
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