Review: Pikmin Bloom (Mobile)

A charming game that brings Pikmin to a wider audience.

By Achi Ikeda. Posted 03/21/2022 01:32 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
The pedometer focus is a great walking motivator; Pikmin are always appealingly adorable - even in app form
Poison Mushroom for...
Unbalanced in-game currency and store; sometimes the only point is the cuteness; a gaping dearth of what makes the Pikmin series great - strategy

It’s safe to say that Pikmin Bloom definitely increased how much walking I have been doing every week. Because the app measures how many steps you take rather than how far you walk, I started planning ways to incorporate more walking into my day. What route would be the longest? How can I increase my steps? I started walking more around my home and taking daily walks in my neighborhood. When organizing my schedule each week, I even started strategically planning more walking into my week.

Pikmin Bloom is not likely to have the global success of the previous Niantic Nintendo mobile game, Pokémon GO; however, by focusing on steps rather than distance, I argue that it does a better job at motivating users to walk more. The game is also a lot more passive. Which can be a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it. It’s less of a traditional game experience than Pokémon GO and less engaging overall. Yet, because of that, I can focus more on walking and going about my day, rather than having my eyes glued to my phone screen, while still having a constant feeling of progress and advancement.

But enough comparisons between Pikmin Bloom and Pokémon GO. What is the app like and why is it a great way to get you walking? Pikmin Bloom synchronizes with your smartphone’s pedometer and GPS to track how many steps you walk a day and where you walk. Accumulating steps is how you grow Pikmin and where you walk reveals expeditions to collect fruit or more Pikmin seedlings.

If you haven’t played a Pikmin game before, first off, why not? Please do so, the series is a clever, adorable take on the real time strategy genre. Please go download Pikmin 3 Deluxe off the eShop or check out our review of the game. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

If you still haven’t played Pikmin, that’s ok. Pikmin Bloom can easily be played by someone who hasn’t even heard of the Pikmin series. If this happens to be you, here’s everything you need to know. Pikmin are small, cute creatures that normally grow in the ground and can be plucked from their stem. They vary in color and their color indicates their ability. Pikmin can be given simple orders to collect and carry objects from one place to another in order to achieve goals and solve puzzles.

There are many alterations to the Pikmin formula. In Pikmin Bloom, Pikmin are grown in slots in your backpack planter and require a certain number of steps to be plucked. You only have two slots, but that’s all you need. As you progress, you will sometimes acquire additional single-use slots that you can temporarily add to your backpack which allow you to grow more than two Pikmin at a time. Once plucked, they join you as you go for walks. As you walk, Pikmin will pick up nearby objects. These might be more Pikmin seedlings or fruit which turns into nectar. More on nectar in a bit.

In Pikmin Bloom progress is measured in levels, but there are no “experience points.” Leveling up occurs when you reach certain requirements. Those requirements vary from level to level. For the most part, you must walk a certain number of steps and either grow a certain type of new Pikmin or collect a certain number of petals. I think the step requirement is a great way to keep players walking.

So what are petals? Another somewhat successful way to get you walking. It’s a bit complicated. As you walk around town, Pikmin will collect small fruits such as cherries or blueberries, and bring them to you. Tapping them will turn them into nectar which you can then feed to your Pikmin. When they drink the nectar, a flower blooms on their head. Tapping the flowers allows you to collect flower petals. Once you’ve collected a decent amount, you can start planting them as you walk. This causes changes to the in-game map that any Pikmin Bloom player can see, which is pretty neat. The reason it is only somewhat successful is due to the in-game currency system.

Pikmin Bloom’s in-game currency is unbalanced and flawed. For every 500 flowers you plant, you get 1 coin. To put that into perspective, in a thirty-minute walk I will plant at most 2,000 flowers. That’s 4 coins. The cheapest item in the game shop is 100 coins for 100 nectar. Nectar is the easiest thing to come across in the game that you are more likely to find yourself encumbered than lacking. Only two items would be useful for purchase, but not enough to justify their price. This thereby makes the coins feel a bit worthless which reduces my motivation to plant flowers.

The other reason to plant flowers is a little more interesting. Dispersed on your map are large plants that will vary from a pair of leaves, to a bud, to a gigantic flower. What turns that pair of leaves into that gigantic flower is dependent on how many flowers players plant in close proximity to the plant. Once 300 flowers are planted, the plant blooms and Pikmin can go on expeditions to collect loot underneath its leaves.

When you reach level 5, Pikmin are able to do what they were born to do (grown to do?): Pikmin can now go on expeditions. In classic Pikmin games, directing your Pikmin is the key gameplay and strategy element. Unfortunately, there is zero strategy in this app. Instead, Pikmin explore underneath those ginormous flowers to return with special fruit. Other options are sending Pikmin off to collect more Pikmin seedlings near places you walked by earlier or you can send them on heroic missions to destroy growths of huge mushrooms! Well, maybe not impressively heroic. The mushrooms don’t really defend themselves or fight back in any way. These various expeditions will often result in Pikmin returning with postcards. Postcards depict an image from the destination with Pikmin from the expedition posing. They’re cute, but get old and redundant fairly quickly.

Overall, I am very pleased to see the Pikmin series getting more attention and finding a larger audience. The slow and steady, steps-focused progression makes the game the app a great motivator for easy exercise. But Pikmin Bloom is best described as an app that gets you walking more, rather than a hit new game. It has plenty of thoughtful features that will likely have you checking in on it daily, but its various minor flaws leave me a little disappointed that the precious little Pikmin didn’t quite get the app that I think they deserve.

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