Plant Tycoon - Palm OS 5 game

Reviewed by: Lianne Reitter, February 2004, send e-mail
Published by: LDW Software, go to the web site
Requires: Color Palm PDA or Sony Clie running Palm OS 5.x or later, 700KB available RAM
MSRP: $14.95 ($7.45 as of January 2004)

Ahhh winter. The joy of skiers, snowboarders and tobogganers alike; the bane of every gardener I know. Oh the gardeners say they enjoy the winter, planning for next season (and winterizing their little treasures is a pleasure all in itself). They don’t fool me. They hate winter. All they really want to do is get their hands dirty and grow something, but the cold and the snow won’t allow it. Here though, is a little game for their PDA that will keep them and every gardener and non-gardener (like me), hip deep in the joys of planting, watering and caring for a digital greenhouse.

The main premise of the game is simple. You start with 15 empty pots, a supply of soil, water and a little seed money (pun intended). Plant the seeds, water the soil, watch them grow to maturity and then pollinate the little beauties and harvest the seeds. Once the new seeds are collected, put the fully grown plants up for sale in your digital garden center. The sale of a plant means money in the kitty and an empty pot in the greenhouse to start the process all over again. The whole cycle takes a while and progresses in real time even with the PDA turned off so you have to check back on them from time to time (does anybody remember the Tomagochi?). Water when needed or go to the virtual store and purchase some plant food to encourage growth or buy insecticide if a plant becomes infested.

This alone would be enough if the game was meant only for the bored gardener. There is however, a lot more to it because your seeds aren’t from just anywhere - they are from the mythical Island of Isola. There, four magical plants were known to grow and flourish and it is your goal, through cross pollination, to recreate these magical plants and become a wealthy Plant Tycoon in the process.

I don’t know if it matters, but I’m a lousy gardener; I don’t have the patience. Even so, I found myself constantly checking on my plants to see how they were growing, if they were in bloom and ready to pollinate or if there were any seeds ready to harvest. Then, when it was time to part with my hard work and put them up for sale it was really fun watching the little people running around my virtual garden centre and buying up my creations. I really had a great time with Plant Tycoon and I intend to continue my virtual green house and garden centre for a long time to come.

Unfortunately, if I ever do find those magical plants it will be by pure coincidence. A true Tycoon keeps records of which plant was crossed with which in order to keep recreating a particularly lucrative plant. I didn’t want to keep a separate paper record lying around, or leave the game to make use of the Palm's Note Pad and without a record keeping feature in the game itself, my new plant creations are just a hit and miss sort of thing. However, that’s a lot of fun too, seeing what I get once I put on my mad scientist hat and start mixing up the DNA.

I’ll leave you with a little hint - pause the game before you go to bed. I don’t want to get too graphic, but I woke up to a disgusting mess - bugs, dead or dying plants. Terrible. It set me back and cost me dearly. Did I mention that I also killed my Tomagochi? Plant Tycoon is really great fun. It will keep the winter blahs away from the greenest of thumbs and will also give hope to those of you who can't even get a potato to root. Great idea, highly playable. Highly recommended.

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