Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading. In this instalment, we’re covering Pikmin Bloom by developer and publisher, Niantic Labs.
Pikmin Bloom: (The Explanation)
Announced earlier this year, followed by a beta release in select countries and now finally steadily releasing the world over, the time has come to set out on another Pikmin related adventure that, regretfully, is not Pikmin 4, but is the second spin-off in a series that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It is time to talk about all things Pikmin Bloom.
Created by Shigeru Miyamoto, Pikmin has never been popular series to the same extent as Donkey Kong, Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda, but like with Metroid, there is a very loyal fanbase and now that Niantic Labs are in the driving seat to Pikmin Bloom, perhaps a time of great change is upon us.
As part of a collaboration between Niantic and Nintendo that sees Niantic acting as a publisher to Nintendo related IPs made into AR applications for mobile devices, Pikmin Bloom is the first of the line and takes the lovable half-plant/half-animal creatures out of space and plants them firmly on the planet we call home.
Whether you choose to create a character for yourself, or sync the game to your Nintendo Account and use your Mii to represent you in-game, which, instead of the likes of Olimar embarking on missions with Pikmin, the mobile application revolves around the player and the journies they choose to go on with their colourful friends. Only these journies, can be literally anything from cycling to school, riding a train or bus to work or just walking around your favourite park.
They are something you can do when you’re already doing something else, as you can easily have the app run in the background, as long as you agree to the necessary app permissions, and as you wander, should you have plenty of flowers to spare (can be obtained in-game by feeding different coloured Nectar to your Pikmin companions), you can opt to plant flowers.
Not only does this help to make the in-game world a more colourful place thanks to the flower power, but it helps the in-game flowers grow for collectable rewards and, when planting flowers, players can earn coins during the process but it also helps provide a boost effect to any seedlings you currently have planted as it boosts the number of steps you’ve walked. This boost allows players to meet the step count requirement a whole lot sooner, and add yet another Pikmin to your squad. If your squad is full, however, you can still keep the Pikmin and swap them in and out as you please.
In order to expand one’s squad, players are required to level up, which, instead of requiring XP like in Pokémon GO, it’s simply a case of meeting certain requirements such as planting a specific number of flowers, growing Pikmin, walking and completing expeditions, fun little missions that can be discovered as you explore the world around us, which sees you sending out your loyal Pikmin to collect fruit and additional seedlings to grow even more Pikmin.
Expeditions are a great way of increasing your Friendship Level with your Pikmin and when a full four hearts are reached, a special expedition can trigger, which will allow you to send them off to collect a present intended for you, but sees them transform into a regular Pikmin, into a special Decor Pikmin. Expeditions can also earn you postcards, fun little images celebrating the journies your Pikmin have undertaken.
Another way of increasing your Friendship Levels is by feeding your Pikmin with the Nectar you can earn from the fruit they collect for you from expeditions and randomly and, just in case you wish to leave the in-game map for our world, players are free to make use of the game’s AR functionality and bring their Pikmin into the towns, cities, forests, woodlands, beaches around us and take some photos.
Then, when all is said and done at the end of the day, at 9pm every day in the game, players will be provided with a recap of their day’s activities with Pikmin Bloom. They can even pick from the offered emojis to represent how their day has been and even save a photo alongside the recap. It’s a charming little touch that goes a long way in a charming application and, given how barebones Pokémon GO was in the beginning, I can’t wait to see what it might go on to become in the future.
As pleasing and appetising as they are, Hey! Pikmin, Pikmin 3 Deluxe and Pikmin Bloom, can never fill the Pikmin 4 sized hole in our hearts, as loyal fans wait tirelessly for the long-awaited sequel. This is a fact, but let’s not let dissatisfaction get in the way of enjoying the continued releases.
The Pikmin series is still alive and well, fairing a lot better than Star Fox and F-Zero, and will Pikmin will never be Pokémon, there is no denying the popularity of Niantic’s Pokémon GO and how it garnered interest from new players and with a lot of luck, history will repeat with Pikmin Bloom, helping us all get that little bit closer to seeing Pikmin 4 sooner, rather than later.
Pikmin Bloom: (The Gameplay)
Tags: android, iOS, Niantic Labs, Pikmin Bloom
Developer: Niantic Labs
Publisher: Niantic Labs
Platform: Android & iOS
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: October 26, 2021 (Singapore & Australia)
File Size: 124 MB
Play Store Listing
This post was written by Jack Longman