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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Atari
Developed By: Vitamin-G
Genre: Puzzle
Players: 1
Rated: E for Everyone
Release Date: November 10, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Price: 800 Microsoft Points
Written By: Matthew Prunty

November 19, 2010 – There is no denying it that Vitamin-G’s latest foray into video games with the release of The UnderGarden is definitely pleasing to the eyes. Very few games are able to pull off such a stylistic choice for their game design that will have you hooked and you haven’t even starting playing the game. For those familiar with games like Flower and PixelJunk Eden, you will be right at home with the visual presentation. While The UnderGarden is definitely worth your time, it falls a bit short on providing a complete experience.

In The UnderGarden, you are in control of a furry little creature that sets out to pollinate all the flowers of the UnderGarden in order to see life prosper. What’s so intriguing about these types of games is the fact that there are no over-extended goals, let alone boss battles you must get through in order to advance through the game. With each level in the game, you are simply pollinating flowers as you will, while solving some environmental puzzles in order to clear any obstacle in front of you. This type of game structure takes a lot of pressure off the player to “play” game, thus allowing them to “experience” what’s going on. However, due to the game’s structure, that euphoric high doesn’t last too long and the gamer is left dealing with repetition and a lack of variety.

The UnderGarden has several distinct puzzles types that players will come across while playing the game in order to keep the action seemingly fresh. Starting out, you will be solving puzzles which will require you to pick specific fruits that either sink or float. Depending on which fruit you have to use, you tasked with manipulating giant blocks or a moveable wheel with said fruit in order to proceed. As you progress through the game, the gameplay mechanics get more complex, requiring more out of the player than before. While changes do transpire throughout the gameplay, you can’t help but feel like you are doing the same thing over and over on each of the puzzle levels within the game.

Another area of repetition comes within the pollinating mechanic. Within the first few levels, it’s not a problem navigating the terrain back in forth between the pollen sac and the flowers you need to pollinate. However as the levels become bigger and more intricate, it seems more a chore having to go back and forth as many times as it takes in order to pollinate the entire level. Not everyone will see the game this way, but it’s definitely a reality when having to deal with the latter levels.

Graphics /Sound – From a visual standpoint, The UnderGarden is a hit-or-miss depending on who is behind the controller. Developer Vitamin-G did a great job designing the landscaping that your furry little creature explores while pollinating the flowers. They incorporated a lush color palette alongside their different themed areas, which is very stimulating to the human eye. The puzzle elements do add an extra layer visual styling to the title; however they can get a bit repetitive, thus taking away from the visual appeal of the title. Both the animations and the frame-rate are smooth as butter with no signs of slowdown or stuttering. The game sound quality is a bit lacking with a few simplistic tunes playing in the background, some being triggered only when passing small music-playing creatures. Considering the styling of the game, an orchestral approach to the game could have taken the experience a long way.

When it comes to longevity, there isn’t really anything to offer beyond what you experience within the game itself. For those looking to 100% each and every level, you can look for hidden, hard to reach areas to explore. By doing so, you will unlock in-game bonuses like new character skins and accessories for your furry creature.

Overall – If you are aiming to be a Zen master or want something to play in between the Call of Duties and Assassin’s Creeds, The UnderGarden is an experience that you can enjoy from beginning to end. While it doesn’t bring to the table as much content as other Zen-like experiences on home consoles, Vitamin-G does a great job at presenting gamers with an experience that is both challenging and rewarding at the same time. For those looking for a long, engulfing experience I suggest you look elsewhere. For those looking for something different and visually stimulating, look no further than The UnderGarden.


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