Sunshine on a rainy day.
The Game Atelier’s ‘Sunflowers’ is a highly enjoyable casual puzzler that packs together sunshine and sunflowers, and rolls it neatly into a downloadable title for the PlayStation Vita. With the PS Vita in your hands, you have the power to nourish little seeds and flowers that grow in your garden below.
The aim of the game is simple. Drag your sunshine from left to right and launch glorious rays towards your flowers and seeds which are waiting quite happily on the ground below. For the flowers to prosper, you have to aim your sunbeams through the randomly scrolling fluffy white clouds so they can provide rain. If however, the sunshine hits the flowers directly this will result in the flower being completely frazzled and, should it happen again, disintegrated. You also have to watch out for the dark storm clouds – accidentally passing through one of these will end with your sunflower being struck by lightning and going up in flames. To guarantee the growth of your flowers, pass your sunbeam through multiple clouds for a big drop of water and, once they have reached full growth, they will spawn two seeds and be added to your virtual garden. If for some reason, your poor little flowers don’t get the droplets of rain, they will eventually wither and die within a limited time frame.
The objective of the game is to collect every type of flower for your virtual garden, which is no mean feat as there are more than 320 flowers to find throughout the classic and tropical game settings. There are three difficulty levels; casual, normal and hard. I’ve tried all the levels and although I may have the patience of a saint, the hard mode is very testing.
Holding the PlayStation Vita vertically, you simply drag the sun back and forth using your finger on the touchscreen, and tap the screen or use the shoulder button to shoot the sunrays out. You can fully utilize the rear touchpad, but it felt awkward at times. Otherwise, controlling the game is simplicity itself.
The presentation and visuals of the game are a real stand out feature. These flowers aren’t just ordinary flowers; these are bright, cute and adorable flowers, with prize winning smiles and an abundance of sweet personality. This personality is carried through the entire game, from the lovely backdrops whilst you grow your flowers, to the clear menus that get you where you want without any problem. Then there is the wonderfully upbeat backing music which, in true addictive form, gets stuck in your hand after a matter of minutes. Sunflowers really is a lovely game to play.
The score counter shows how you are progressing and you’re granted a 1Up for every two thousand points you manage to score. As you advance to the higher levels, you’ll have access to the more rare flowers which you can even send to your friends. Inside your virtual garden, you can enter the gift basket section and simply drag and drop flowers into the pots and click a button to send to a worthy friend or to a ‘near’ player. In another section, with the help of Labee the bumblebee, you can drag and drop flowers into the pots to combine them and discover new flowers.
As you work through the stages, things will get more difficult and the gameplay will get mixed up slightly with the introduction of environmental changes that can hinder your efforts and even see you feeding the flowers with real sunlight. However, the real draw of the game and reason to keep playing is the addictive nature of collecting all of the different flowers.
Although this is a casual puzzle game, it really ticks a lot of boxes with its frantic gameplay, addictive collecting, simple crisp visuals and upbeat tune. It also makes great use of the Vita functions and, at a very reasonable price on PSN, is well worth a download. Sunflowers will keep you tapping, swiping, collecting and whistling for quite some time.