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Publisher: Big Fish Games    Genre: Simulation
Min OS X: 10.3    Hard Disk: 35 MB    Graphics: 800x600 @ 16-bit

Plant Tycoon
November 20, 2007 | Jack Shiels

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Here, you cultivate your plants and cross breed species
As a reviewer I seem to be getting all the eco-friendly games available! My last assignment, Recyclorama, was about as tree-huggable as you could get. Thankfully, though, I have a high enough tolerance level for the green at heart and enjoyed Plant Tycoon a lot more than I thought I would.

After peeling back my stereotyped view of all $20 games being a rubbish affair, I found a little gem of the gaming world - finally, a title that doesn’t require you to save the world or kill multitudes of faceless villains. Instead, Plant Tycoon offers you the chance to build your own nursery, caring for the plants as you cross-pollinate and invent your own species, which is great fun. Last Day of Work and Big Fish Games should be congratulated on making a usually boring subject such fun (!).

The story revolves around the island of Isola, a rather mystical area of the world, where there are rumors of six magical seeds which, when grown, give otherworldly powers to the villagers of the island. Your job is to find these 6 seeds by crossbreeding different species of plants in the correct order (or by buying them, if you’re the lazy type).

You start off with several fairly basic seed types, which don’t sell for much, and begin the growing process. This can take from 45 minutes to over five hours depending on the speed level you choose. Annoyingly, the plants continue to grow when the application is closed, which can be irritating, as coming back to see your precious $85 seed dead is not the most pleasant experience. Luckily, this effect can be turned off in the options menu quite easily. When the seed has bloomed, you can sell it in the nursery area for a fee of your choice or prune it of any defects. The ability to chop off every leaf is very well done and quite detailed.

The entrepreneurial part of the game is where all the action is (and yes, I was being sarcastic). The décor of the nursery decides quite a lot about whether your plants will be bought by the costumers or rejected and many upgrades can be bought from the supplies pane. The one problem here, though, is that costumers only purchase plants when the nursery pane is selected. You cannot go back to growing plants and selling at the same time.

Another irritant is that the game is very slow to start off as plants only sell for about $8 when you begin and most upgrades cost at least $200 apiece. You will really need to invest time into this game to get the most out of it. It appears as the developers knew this as well, due to the “hours played” counter at the stats page (which supports online ranking, a nice touch).


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