Game Title: Plantera DX
Developer: Ratalaika Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Download: 60 MB
Availability: Digital (Japan, EU/NA Coming Later)
Battery Life: 4-5 hours
Game Modes: Handheld
Do you ever get that odd craving to play a clicker game on a console, as much as it doesn’t make sense to do so? To be honest, it’s surprising that there even are clicker games on consoles, but with the introduction of touch screens on handhelds, and the touch pad on the PS4 help to make this doable.
My experience in the genre mostly can be explained with 2 words: Cookie Clicker. That’s a big game that I was borderline addicted to on PC. In fact, in a previous technical support job, most of my off-duty time at work was spent doing random plays of Cookie Clicker. I never went back to the genre, but thanks to a nice little 5-dollar game on the Japanese eShop for Switch, I have now. Do note that the Japanese Version of the game has a full English translation, so there’s no need for Japanese knowledge.
Taking the farming genre and applying it to the clicker genre, Plantera was made. Although it was recently-released on the PS Vita, here is my review of the enhanced “remake” of sorts for the Nintendo Switch, Plantera DX!
Due to this game having no story, this section shall remain blank.
Plantera DX is a farming-themed clicker game. Across the game, you plant various types of food, hire workers to help you pick said food, and continue to do this as your farm slowly grows in size, workforce, and more.
The Nintendo Switch version is called DX because it is enhanced from the other versions of the game. New content in the DX version includes new animals, notably horses. The Map can be expanded wider than any previous version of the game. There is new background music in this version, and the graphics have been slightly enhanced for the Switch’s display.
Now, the point of Plantera is to plant crops, pick them, plant more crops, and repeat the process infinitely until your curiosity and boredom is satisfied. There really is no story, no end-game, no “goal” to reach. It’s just a fact of planting crops and watching your farm grow.
That isn’t to say that the game has no sense of accomplishment or progression. It has the same sort of progression as any other clicker game. For every crop that either you collect via the touch screen or your AI helpers collect, you gain currency (imagine it like money you make off selling your crop). This currency is used in the game’s Shop to purchase seeds for other crops, animals for your farm, and various other enhancements.
The Shop is the main longevity point of the game. You use currency to buy new items and you unlock new items by continuing your farm. As you collect crops, you gain experience and Level Up in an RPG-like manner. Each level introduces either New Helpers, New Items, or both. If you use a better type of a certain crop, you gain more coins per pick. This leads to an increased gain in currency, letting you buy more expensive crops and items, and the process repeats itself since the price for a crop doubles every time you buy it.
Apart from items, you can also use currency to expand your farm, making new plots you can use to plant more crops. Since each plot can contain one of each crop type (Underground Plants, Trees/Bushes, and Orchard Trees), each new plot means several new crops being picked up, which further increases production. The more you have, the more you get, as they say.
Eventually, it gets to the point where you can’t keep focused on the game long enough to gain the money needed to buy more crops. The Special Part of the shop is for that. In this part, you can get Dogs and Scarecrows to keep nefarious animals from destroying your crops, but also Alarm Clocks and Multipliers. The Multipliers are important because they multiply your currency gain, starting with 2x Coins and up from there. To go along with this, you’ve got Alarm Clock upgrades to let your workers keep working even when you close the game out for a certain amount of time. So, if you have the 8 Hour Alarm Clock, the game will run itself for up to 8 hours after it is closed, or even the Switch, itself, is shut off.
All of this is very basic, since you’re essentially just tapping on crops, tapping on shop items, and watching everything unfold from there. As such, there isn’t that much longevity in a single run. If you want numbers, I reached Level 20 and unlocked the final Shop Items after around 2 hours of gameplay. Although there are achievements all the way up to Level 100 and beyond, the upgrades there are just enhanced versions of already-existing shop items. So, if you just want a single run, 2 hours.
Now, is that really worth it? The Switch version costs 500 yen in Japanese, so will likely cost $4.99 in the West. That’s not a lot, but you’re not getting a lot, either. (Plus the Steam version is only $2.99). You do get exclusive content, so it’s not like it’s an exact copy of other versions.
Controls are strange, but the first thing you should know is that you cannot play Plantera DX in Docked Mode / TV Mode. It can display in Docked Mode, but there are many touchscreen-only controls, so controlling the game in Docked Mode is not an option unless you’re just wanting to sit and watch the game gather currency.
Now, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any button controls, because there are. The Arrow Buttons and Left Analog Stick move in menus and move the camera around your farm. The + and – buttons open up the menu, and the A/B buttons allow you to confirm or cancel placing shop items and confirm/cancel when cycling through menus.
The biggest problem about this is the fact that it could have more button controls. It just doesn’t. There could be a cursor system with the Directional Buttons moving the camera and the Left Stick moving the cursor or just focus on each crop so you could claim it with A. I’ve contacted the developers on this and they said they’re looking into it and if they find a way to do it, they will implement it in the West. But, just know, right now, it doesn’t work.
Not a whole lot I can say about presentation. As much as the description of the game says the graphics are enhanced, I don’t really see any difference between the visuals of Plantera on 3DS and Plantera DX on the Switch. It’s got a very simple 2D style. The renders aren’t perfect and you can see some blurring here and there. It’s a blemish that definitely shouldn’t be there and isn’t there in the PC version. In actuality, it’s odd that Plantera on Steam actually looks better, visually, than DX.
Performance, though, is flawless. There is virtually no time at all with loading your farm, and everything plays smoothly.
Being such a simple 2D game, I expected to get mad battery life out of Plantera DX. You actually do get a lot of life out of it, though not as much as I thought. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%:
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 09 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 18 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 00 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 07 minutes
Now, I’m not gonna complain about 4-5 hours of battery life, because that’s really nice. But, considering its 2D style, I would honestly expect it to get more Battery Life than games like Disgaea 5. It’s good, but not as good as it probably could be.
In conclusion, Plantera DX is a fun little casual farming clicker game, but not one I would call “great”. On one side, it doesn’t have the repetitive need for dozens to hundreds of hours of non-stop clicking for its good content. On the other side, you unlock everything after a short 2 hours, it’s a graphically downgraded game, and the new content doesn’t really add anything new to the original system which really lacked the depth of being more than a short time-waster.