Gardening in game worlds is often seen as a relaxing and rewarding experience. It allows players to cultivate and nurture plants without the fear of them withering away. Garden Buddies, developed by JamPics, is one such game that aims to provide players with a cozy gardening experience on the Nintendo Switch. However, despite its initial promise, Garden Buddies falls short of being the pick of the bunch.
A Welcoming Garden with Limited Depth
The game begins with Mutsy, a friendly apple character, inviting players to their garden, which can be decorated and customized to their liking. Starting off by planting flower seeds, players can eventually exchange these flowers for various items such as plants, stones, lanterns, a pond, and even a house. Additionally, as players progress, they unlock new talking flora and fauna friends, with charming designs and adorable animations accompanied by a soothing soundtrack. However, the experience quickly becomes lackluster as it becomes apparent that these characters collect flowers for the player, leaving little opportunity for players to actively participate.
While Garden Buddies intertwines garden decoration with minigames, including rhythm games and a Whac-A-Mole-like activity, the lack of timing constraints and limited rewards undermines their potential. Although the absence of pressure aligns with the game’s calming tone, it diminishes the sense of accomplishment that one would expect from completing such tasks. Despite being able to select different game modes and skip levels, the main story mode can be completed within a few hours. The game even goes as far as prompting players to take breaks during gameplay, indicating that it is meant to be played in short bursts.
Incoherent Dialogue and a Lack of Direction
One aspect of Garden Buddies that stands out for the wrong reasons is the incoherent dialogue. The characters’ high-pitched squeaks reminiscent of a dog toy accompanied by stilted phrasing and occasional spelling and grammar errors detract from the overall experience. While the game exudes positivity and offers compliments for even the simplest of actions, it fails to strike a balance between catering to children and providing a meaningful experience for stressed adults. Games like Animal Crossing and A Short Hike have mastered this art by offering enjoyment and relaxation to players of all ages.
A Lackluster Performance
In addition to its gameplay shortcomings, Garden Buddies also suffers from minor performance issues. Slow load screens and occasional stutters detract from the overall fluidity of the experience. Furthermore, there were instances of missing dialogue during gameplay, indicating potential glitches or oversights. Additionally, the sluggish cursor movement on the Nintendo Switch leaves players longing for touchscreen capability, further hindering the overall enjoyment of the game.
Garden Buddies has its moments of charm and manages to execute certain aspects reasonably well. However, it fails to deliver on the promises it initially makes. The lack of depth and reward for achievements, coupled with its limited narrative development, prevent the game from truly flourishing. In a market crowded with relaxing and adorable games, it becomes difficult to justify spending time on a game that fails to stand out.
While Garden Buddies is by no means a terrible game, it falls short of the standards set by its competitors in the genre. Players seeking a truly immersive and rewarding gardening experience may find themselves better served by exploring other options available on the Nintendo Switch. Despite its initial appeal, Garden Buddies ultimately fails to grow deep roots and is ultimately an experience that can be safely skipped.