The Game Atelier might not be a household name just yet, but PSP owners and App Store addicts may have come across their last game, The Flying Hamster, which successfully developed the side scrolling shooter into a fun acorn-spewing game of Hamster death. Now they’re back on Sony’s latest handheld with an altogether-different title, the easy-going SunFlowers.
SunFlowers is the very definition of a casual game, something also reflected in the sub-£3 price on the Playstation Store. The aim is to collect as many flowers as you can to place in your garden by forcing the clouds to drop water on seeds and help them grow.
The first thing you’ll notice when starting up the game is the colour. The game is bursting with vibrancy and really makes use of the Vita’s screen, even though the graphics themselves could be considered basic by the more cynical gamer.
Controlling a happy-looking sun with the Vita on its side, you shine your beams down on the passing clouds, which then drop rain on the seeds and plants below them. If you miss a cloud and hit a flower with your powerful ray the flower combusts and more rain is needed to put out the fire before it’s consumed. If you manage to get your flower in to full bloom, it will be plucked and placed in your garden, dropping more seeds to water in the process.
The game continues through the seasons, with added elements depending on the time of year. In Autumn you will need to keep the garden clear of leaves, in Winter you need to cope with harsh frosts which require thawing before you can continue. Further themes change the flower types, including some very odd pirate plants that are grown in front of a pirate ship background. I’m sure I saw a Captain Jack Sparrow flower in amongst these.
Finally, a bonus level opens occasionally allowing you to play at night as the moon, dropping dew drops directly on to the plants. It’s a slight change of pace to an already-fairly sedate game, but it’s no less welcome.
There are two garden types to choose from at the start of the game, normal or tropical, and a third option lets you enter your garden to check on your collected plants. This also allows you to cross-pollinate flowers in order to create new species, though a lot of the time I just ended up with a different colour plant. The garden also allows you to send flowers to other Vita owners for their garden, which is a nice touch that probably won’t get used as much as it should. Finally, you can pick up flowers via Near, with the chance to grab some of the rarer breeds.
While SunFlowers is a typically casual affair with a slow pace and little variation, it’s a great title to showcase the lower priced section of the Vita’s store and there’s something surprisingly reassuring about collecting another of those rare flowers for your garden or receiving a flower as a gift from a friend. If you fancy something a little different from the average gun blazing battles on your Vita, SunFlowers offers it in spades (and probably trowels, too).