Gardening Mama Review: Forest Friends

Mama's garden.

Nintendo 3DS tested version.

There is not only cuisine in the world of Mamma: after having tried their hand at looking after children, creating the most disparate objects and having experienced the thrill of camping, in this second fruit and vegetable themed spin-off of the famous culinary series, Mama and her little one are also dedicated to the cultivation of flowers , fruits and vegetables. Compared to the first Gardening Mama, however, the developers have thought of inserting some interesting news to give greater prominence to the simulation element of the game. Let's find out together!

For friends, and good shopping, this and more!

While maintaining the centrality of the game towards a multiple variety of minigames, Gardening Mama: Forest Friends proposes to the player a whole series of requests and "missions" to complete. In fact, it is not just about unlocking the next plant, but also making the neighborhood shops flourish. And, as the title suggests, our neighbors are the cute friends of the forest - the animals.

Without worrying too much about trying to explain how a penguin can get tired of the polar cold, our task then becomes that of mainly cultivating what the local fauna will gradually need for their commercial activities. Flowers for the florist rabbit, fruit for the penguin, obviously ice cream maker, vegetables of various kinds for the food bear and so on. We will not spoil you beyond the owners of the other shops (there are 6 in total), just know that, at some point, we will also become skilled carpenters.

The phases of cultivation and harvest alternate in "working" days, which allow the plants to grow rather quickly. The alternation day / night, however, it does not in the least affect the actions that can be performed, thus limiting itself to being a mere aesthetic factor. More important, however, is the resolution of various problems that can afflict our garden, such as parasites which, through specific mini-games, will be eradicated to prevent the affected plant from wilting. Likewise, it is essential to properly water our flower beds every day, so that we can have a quality harvest and receive a greater reward in good purchases from local traders.

These vouchers are used, just as the name suggests, to buy items to customize the garden and are the currency in Gardening Mama: fences, pots, games for children and strangely quiet animals (will they be drugged?) Are just some of the supplies in the shop of the forest, where, once unlocked, we can also buy seeds to get flowers of different colors than usual.

What a beautiful - and monotonous - country life!

In short, the conditions for a good managerial are all there. The problem is that, in fact, that potential is badly wasted due to some questionable game design choices. First of all, the day / night cycle: by forcing the player to make targeted choices to take advantage of the time available during the day, the game could have acquired greater management depth, emulating in a more realistic way the time management that every good manager must be used to. Instead the night arrives, but, in addition to emitting an acoustic warning and changing the background template, it does not cause any consequences: the next day will never arrive, unless we go to sleep. Convenient, isn't it?

The proposed activities also follow a excessively repetitive rhythm: every day we will have a prompt request in our mailbox, to be carried out in more or less distant places (we also take the plane in some circumstances) by solving various kinds of minigames, which will give us access to the (infinite) seeds of a new crop. We will also have, in an equally systematic way, an animal friend who will come knocking on our door to place a new order. Once this is done, we will proceed to the planting of new crops (if we have the space and the desire) and to collect / water those already present, and then deliver what we were gradually requested. The remaining time of our endless day we can now spend it on shopping, customizing the garden or in a sort of periodic lucky lottery, where we can use special tickets to hope to win a windmill or another unusual prize.

Finally, once we go to sleep, we will have the report of the earnings of the various shops, which, if they have had many customers, will give us a reward in good purchases or lottery tickets. We will also get experience points for the gardening actions performed, which will allow us to expand the garden at each new level.

Stylus gardening ...

Despite all these managerial implentations, in short, the greater appeal of the title remains focused on the execution of the many minigames present, sometimes quite demanding for a child, which - almost always - make good use of the touch-screen functions. However, there is no real free mode after being able to face all the minigames. The "Help" mode, in fact, forces the player to unlock the challenges in "Care for plants" before being able to face them again, making it mandatory to finish this sort of story mode before having access to all the game possibilities.

Furthermore, there is no system whatsoever multiplayer that allows you to challenge your friends in time-based or scoring competitions where you can determine who is the best in each minigame. Being able to use the download mode would undoubtedly have been pleasant, but also an online ranking could have increased the interest and replayability of the title. 

All in all nice to see and with better textures than the new exponent of the main series, Cooking Mama: Bon Appétit!, Gardening Mama 2 also offers a mild 3D effect and a photo mode that allows you to customize photos taken with Nintendo 3DS with nice filters. Unfortunately it is not allowed to share these images on Miiverse, even after moderation, and the browser does not support the publication of images on Facebook even on New Nintendo 3DS. Export is still possible through online hosting services (tynipic, etc.), but the process is still much, too cumbersome.

Few parts dubbed, in a rather chilling way, only in English, while the text of the balloons is completely localized in Spanish. All in all, the soundtrack that will accompany us during the hard work in the fields is pleasant.

Final comment

Gardening Mama: Forest Friends or, more simply, Gardening Mama 2, with little success pretending to be what it is not. Although the managerial attempt for this spin-off is appreciable, the final realization remains really too superficial in the development of ideas to be able to reach sufficiency. The goodness of the minigames, together with the target to which the title is aimed, still manage to raise the overall judgment for a casual game that can decently occupy the spare time on the bus, train or subway and keep the little ones good for a few hours.


For Cons 
- Minigames that make good use of the touch-screen
- Lots of good ideas ... 
-… realized too superficially
- bad dubbing, fortunately not very invasive
  Overall rating: 65 
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