Gardening Mama Developer Taito Publisher 505 Games Genre Other Platform Nintendo DS Release May 1st 2009 Sonic Unleashed, so why not?
The game revolves around gardening, would you believe. So as such you're planting things like flowers, trees and fruit. Each just as boring as the last, each just as non-educational as the last. Here was I expecting Mama to be this great instructor, a woman to take me to the promised land of perfect flower beds. Instead, what I get is a game which doesn't even have the kindness to have written instructions on what exactly I'm supposed to be doing. You're given some sometimes forgiving gestures to write on the touch screen like to wiggle something in the soil, to dig your trowel into soil or pull sprouts out of soil... Then you have your completely unforgiving gestures like making shapes in soil to water sprouts with. There's a bit where you have to draw a circle around a tree in order to create a trench, the symbol on the top screen was telling me to draw a circle clockwise. So I did. Nothing. Tried again. Nothing. Turns out you have to go from explicit 12-o-clock all the way around to 12 again. And although the symbol on the top screen doesn't join up, you better make sure your symbol does else it's an instant "nuh-uh" from the speakers. A circle is bad enough, now try a star shape (which happens when watering sprouts)... I'm expecting later in the game you have to draw a piece of contemporary art, in a predefined order, to get that "GURET, BETTER THAN MAMA" sound which you will crave so much.
There's also a bunch of other perspective-like failures in the game, such as moving a trowel full of soil over to a pot to put the soil in, if you put the end of the trowel over the end of the pot as if you were going to tip the soil in wheel-barrow-emptying style, the soil just misses the pot entirely and ends up on the table. You have to put that trowel over the whole pot so that one end of the trowel is basically over the far end of the pot and THEN the soil goes in, tipped sideways out... Also, pouring just about anything in the game is a pain, a good example was when I was trying to pour a serum-water-mix into a watering can. I went to go pour the water into the watering can, but failed to notice the brim on the watering can was much closer to the cup (which you couldn't move) than I had realised, so pouring the water just that bit too fast meant a bit of the serum went over the edge, in which you instantly failed this part of the gardening routine because the whole lot of the mixture has to be poured in. All because the visuals weren't striking enough on this particular level.
The Umbrella Chronicles which was reviewed in short bursts of 15 minutes. (A lot of which was just shouting at the screen. Poor screen.)
Side features in the game are fairly simple. You can decorate the garden which you're planting stuff in; by doing good gardening you get presents which can be used to decorate either the garden, mama or change how the game looks for you (change clock colours, trowel colours, etc). You can then collect treasures and share them over WiFi with others, dress up Mama (which is creepy in an unbelievable way... Sure hope there's not a hidden bikini mode...) and the ability to play gardening minigames with friends over local WiFi. You also have the ability to transfer a demo to other people's DS' and all that needless stuff.
Sound isn't bad, nor is it very good... The music sounds the same, generic tune all the way through. Something which definitely gives the game some character, but at the same time bores the crap out of you. Can whoever is playing that music play anything other than a squeaky-trumpet? Then you have Mama's voice, which quite frankly is hilarious. It's obviously an Asian person speaking English, so you have these wonderfully mispronounced sentences which just seemed like an incoherent noise. It starts the second the game loads up with a voice which sounds something like this; "GARDEHINMAMAH" ... It took me all the way through the first gardening segment to realise what she said ("Gardening Mama", if you were unsure). I feel that in this scenario, a re-dub into English would have been for the best. However, the voice is pretty funny after a while.
While I didn't really take this review all too seriously, this game really isn't much good. It's a casual game for the casual gamers out there. I'm sure people who loved things like Brain Training or Picross but hated New Super Mario Bros. or Mario Kart will really love this game. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's some mindless fun, because some measure of thought has to be put into working out exactly how things work. I can't see many figuring out trowel-depth stuff by themselves, and many getting annoyed when drawing a clockwise circle. However, the game is a time waster and surely wont be played for over an hour like I did. If you have younger siblings who aren't that into games but have a DS and you're trying to think of a stocking filler at Christmas or for a Birthday, this is the game for you. Everyone else would do good to just ignore this game even exists.