Sunflowers Review

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Title: Sunflowers
Developer: The Game Atelier
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 102 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download 

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No

Mobile games on the PlayStation Vita definitely are not something that is new.  Taking a look back on the Vita’s library, there are many games that were either ported from Mobile to the Vita or were multi-platform titles between the two systems.  A few examples that come to mind are Angry Birds Star Wars, Flying Hamster HD, and Pocket RPG.  With the handheld having a touch screen, it’s not hard for developers to bring those Mobile games over to the Vita.

One thing you don’t see a lot are games that use portrait mode instead of the normal wide-screen mode.  This is very common among Mobile games but isn’t common among PS Vita games.  Monster Monpiece uses a feature for this, with its rub feature going through Portrait orientation.  If you want to look through full games, though, it’ll be a little harder to find something that uses that unique orientation.

Finding a game will have us dive back into the games that The Games Atelier brought over to the Vita.  We reviewed one of their titles last year, which was Flying Hamster HD.  That did not use this orientation, but their other Vita game does.  Having released on both Mobile and the Vita, here is our official review of Sunflowers!

Story

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Unlike their last game, Sunflowers doesn’t have a storyline attached to it.  The game is all about the gameplay.  The closest you could try to get is that you take the role of the Sun, aiming on growing as many flowers as possible.  With your rays and being able to use the rainclouds to your advantage to grow a beautiful garden of flowers.

As we said above, there really isn’t a story.  This is one of those games that are about gameplay and a story can just be assumed based on the environment and the setting that is thrown at you, as you dive into the game.

Gameplay

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Sunflowers is a casual game that doesn’t really have a genre that it falls into, as it’s the only game I’ve played that is quite like it.  It’s not quite a puzzle game, but not quite a simulation game, either.  The best thing you could say is that it’s a garden-type casual game for growing and collecting flowers.

When you begin your game, you will be able to start a game session.  While the initial boot screen of the game is in landscape/widescreen orientation, it will soon automatically switch over to the portrait orientation.  This will require you to hold the PS Vita side-ways, with each hand holding the bottom and top of the system.  Once you do this, you can tap the screen to start a session, either in the normal or Tropical areas.

When a session starts, there will be a glowing, smiling sun at the top of the screen and seeds down at the bottom of the screen, planted on the ground.  Between you, the Sun, and the ground are clouds that can be assisted or hurtful towards the grown of your flowers.  The goal of the game is to shoot rays of sunlight in groups of 1-3 through white clouds to drop water and grow your flowers.

The strategic part of Sunflowers comes from that only Water will grow your flowers.  If they are hit with Sunlight, they will burn and begin to die, requiring water quick and fast to revive.  The other aspect is that there are also storm clouds roaming around, whom will fire lightning down to burn flowers if they’re hit with sunlight.  The idea of the game is to always hit your flowers with water and nothing else during the day.  You also have to worry about your flowers dying on their own without having received water.  Each time a flower dies, you lose a life.  You can gain lives back as you grow more flowers, but always need to watch your life count.

The further you get into the game, the harder the game gets.  At first, only normal clouds will be around during the day, but further in, more storm clouds will begin to appear.  More flower types will also appear at this point.  Many types will repeat but playing so far will make new types appear to be collected into your garden.  All in all, though, the game never really gets very hard.  It’s casual, through and through.

That is where the addicting point of the game comes into effect.  There are 165 different flowers to discover in each of the two areas as well as the fact that you can go into your collect flowers and cross-breed them into new flowers.  The more I played the game, the more I felt I couldn’t put it down.  My first session of the game lasted a good 30 minutes, even though I’d almost lost a dozen times by then.  The further I got in, the more flowers I wanted to unlock.

All in all, there’s a fair bit of length to the game, depending on how long you want to play it.  A game session could last as little as a few minutes or as long as an hour or more, depending on how long you go and how skilled you are with maintaining growing flowers and avoiding storm clouds.  It should take you at least 4-5 hours to be able to unlock every flower in the game, and more if you want to connect to Near to send flowers to your friends and see what all you can cross-breed together.

Controls

The controls for Sunflowers are very simplistic.  The default control scheme has you using the touch screen for everything, which is the same way you control the game on Mobile.  There are some button controls as well as rear touch panel controls as well.

First of all, the menu can be swiped around with the touch screen.  This is not a customizable option.  The optional controls come in the form of moving the sun as well as shooting down rays of sunlight.  Moving the sun can be toggled between using the touch screen, rear touch panel, or both.  Shooting rays can be customized between tapping the touch screen or using the L and R buttons.  Either way, you’ll have to use the touch screen to play this game.

The control scheme works well for what it is, in regard to the touch screen controls.  The L and R controls for shooting rays of sunlight, however, feel awkward.  Using those comfortably requires you to hold the system normally, which makes the display look side-ways, which requires a certain amount of adjusting to do to look at the game in a way it was never intended to be viewed.

Presentation

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Visually, The Game Atelier does not disappoint.  Like Flying Hamster HD, Sunflowers has a very smooth and beautiful presentation.  Every flower is hand-drawn and looks flawless on the Vita’s screen.  Everything from the sun to the flowers to the animations for the water and lightning look perfect and flow really well in the game.  The visuals were done and optimized very well for the Vita.

The game plays smooth as well.  While there are some lengthy load times, it plays well overall.  When you first start a game session, expect to wait a good 10 seconds or more to begin.  Once it does begin, though, the game plays well.  The Load Times are a small annoyance from the otherwise exceptional presentation.

Summary

Sunflowers is: Great
Sunflowers brings a very fun and casual bit of gameplay onto the PlayStation Vita.  On the downside, the game doesn’t last long and there are some lengthy load times.  Otherwise, the game provides a fun and addicting gameplay style with a flawless visual presentation that will draw you in the more you play it.

8/10