When so many games encourage destruction, it’s refreshing to see a game offer the chance to do something productive.
Taito’s latest iOS release Drawin’ Growin’ calls on your skills at line-drawing and button-bashing in order to cultivate a flower garden.
Its storybook appearance and nonsensical storyline may win style points, but the experience is near ruined by cynical implementation of in-app purchases.
The King and I
A careless king’s forgetful ways have caused all his kingdom’s flowers to wilt, draining the island of happiness.
No information is provided as to the state of the nation’s economy, cultural wellbeing, or human rights record, but given that its ruler is so incompetent that he forgot to water his plants the outlook doesn’t look good.
To change this sorry state of affairs, the king has enlisted the horticultural services of fairy Meu to restore life to the kingdom.
Levels are set in themed game areas with environments dictating which type of flora bloom where, so expect to see more cacti in desert stages.
There are several different level types. In standard levels the aim is to grow plants before the time runs out, while in defending levels you must protect your plants from hazards such as bugs and storms.
You are awarded a score according on your performance and, in an earth shattering move, you are graded out of five stars rather than the now customary three. These stars are used to improve Meu’s level and accordingly his effectiveness.
Levels are bright and colourful, with characters and plants having a hand-shaded effect, making the game feel like a fairytale come to life. This feeling is enhanced by the completely bonkers storyline and nonsensical dialogue between the king and Meu.
Plants are grown by feeding them nutrient drops that fall from the sky. You redirect these drops by dragging your fingers up the screen to draw two lines. Double-tapping lines removes them from the screen, but lines fade with wear and tear anyway, meaning you’ll need to draw new ones.
Different kinds of plants require different types of nutrients, such as sun drops or aqua drops, while some require more than one variety.
A happiness gauge at the bottom of each plant’s pot indicates its wellbeing, which is affected by disasters. You can protect your plants from hazards such as sand and bugs by tapping them, while lightning strikes can be defended against by drawing a protective line in the sky.
Performing all these actions at once is no easy task, and to help you out there are a number of special items. These items permit you to draw more lines or have Meu automatically protect against lightning and bugs. Some are awarded randomly, but the main source of them is through in-app purchases.
Not only does this seem rather cynical, but it removes a layer of strategy for those willing to reach into their pockets. Awarding items through normal play would have been far more rewarding, also making the difficulty level more manageable.
The game’s appeak is further hampered by the temperamental line-drawing mechanic, as lines often don’t appear when you want them to.
Drawin’ Growin’'s pretty visuals prove to be little more than a façade, concealing a line-drawing game that's a chore unless you're prepared to part with your cash.