Through a shocking turn of events, I think the greatest game I’ve experienced all year has been Pikmin Bloom. (Ok, actually that’s a lie, I played Return of the Obra Dinn in January and I still can’t stop thinking about it.) How can a mobile app bring me so much joy when it’s literally an app that encourages you to walk? Well, there’s a ton of reasons.
Right off the bat, I was delighted to discover that Pikmin Bloom is ridiculously easy. The basic premise is you walk around and plant flowers, that’s it. Made by Niantic and Nintendo, with every step you take, Pikmin Bloom allows you to grow Pikmin, level up friendship by sending them on missions, and eventually letting them wear special outfits once your friendship level maxes out.
Planting flowers feels like an achievement when all you’re doing is going for a walk and when your Pikmin brings you a postcard from an expedition they went on? The joy is indescribable. It makes me want to explore my town, not take basic landmarks for granted, and just enjoy the outdoors. This is clearly reminiscent of the early Pokémon Go days without the Pokémon.
Currently, I am on level 15 and new mechanics are still being introduced to the game. There are species of Pikmin I’ve yet to discover and expeditions types I haven’t embarked on yet; it makes me excited to level up. Of course, in order to level up, you must walk, which is the point of the whole app. I keep finding excuses to take walks around my job’s warehouse, to take another trip up the stairs at home, and to aimlessly roam stores on the weekend. Each Pikmin follows me and brings me gifts like cherries, plums, and lemons. I thank them by handing out nectar, and the nectar generates the flowers that you get to plant on your walks. I’m attached to all of them because I named each and every Pikmin I hatch…all 95 of them.
Like Pokémon Go, it has its issues. There are moments when the games glitches and it doesn’t let you move on to the next level unless you redownload the app. For many, just the aspect of only walks may be boring. The most social the game gets is you can host expeditions or plant flowers with friends, but a mechanic similar to gyms doesn’t exist. There’s also a lack of explanation for a lot of the mechanics. The game will introduce a new aspect of the app and as soon as I read the tutorial, I have to go digging for this new aspect throughout the whole game. Friends and I are constantly asking each other where to find this new and mysterious update because it’s tucked away in some confusing corner, which can be frustrating.
Also, I think the biggest sin of this game is that I can’t let my Pikmin play while I’m stuck at my desk at work. I want them to have fun and enjoy themselves instead of staring up at me begging for a walk, like a digital dog.
Pikmin Bloom is available on all major phone platforms.