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Game Review

Flowerworks HD: Follie's Adventure Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jake Shapiro

A few carnations short of a full bouquet

You're a pint-sized explorer that's crash landed your spaceship on an alien planet dominated by vegetation, where flowers are your greatest ally. No, it's not Pikmin, it's Flowerworks HD: Follie's Adventure. A high-def remake of the well-received 2009 WiiWare title, Flowerworks HD is a floral-themed action puzzler from Australian studio Nocturnal, joining a small group of download titles to make the generational leap.

When the eponymous hero Follie arrives on planet Elilia, players get a surprisingly meaty overworld to explore. There's not much to do but get from Point A to Point B, but it's a relaxing zen-like experience simply to walk (or hover?) around the lush locales listening to the smooth electronica soundtrack. The music is one of Flowerworks' strongest points; electronica isn't the genre you'd typically associate with a game about nature, but it fits perfectly. The developer even toys with the concept of dynamic music — areas you've conquered have a light, happy sound, while uncharted territory is accompanied by mysterious, foreboding music.

As for controls, the eight-directional movement is slightly outdated, but Follie moves fluidly enough around the environment that the player feels liberated to explore every nook and cranny of Elilia. You can tell her where to go using the touch screen, but the control stick and D-pad feel much more natural. There are no enemies trying to attack Follie, so there's no tension in the overworld gameplay; some players will find wandering around the overworld to be a tad boring, but in the over-excitable landscape of the modern games industry, this is a breath of fresh, therapeutic air.

When Follie's spaceship crashed on Elilia, the seeds she was transporting got scattered all over the planet; Follie is on a mission to find her missing seeds and use them to beautify Elilia's withering foliage. This is when we get to the core experience of Flowerworks. Once you find a predetermined location to plant seeds, you leave the overworld and enter the action-puzzle gameplay. Flowers are growing in the soil, and since Follie is roughly the size of a bee she must fly around the screen catching pollen to deliver to the flowers and make them germinate. It's easier said than done; red flowers require red pollen, blue flowers require blue pollen, and so on. Later in the game, you're introduced to obstacles like black pollen that you must avoid. You control Follie either with the control stick or the touch screen, she automatically picks up pollen, and you press L or R to deliver pollen to a flower. When she's far away from a flower you can still deliver pollen by holding down L or R; Follie will shoot the pollen through a beam of fertilising light at the nearest flower. You can switch the flower being beamed with ZL or ZR.

This is where the game gets more complicated. If you shoot pollen with your fertiliser beam and the pollen spore hits other spores along its trajectory, you rack up points for bonus fertilisation. And if your red pollen collides with blue pollen or vice versa, it turns into purple pollen, which can be used on red flowers, blue flowers... or purple flowers. It can feel overwhelming, though there's a visual burst of colour when hese double- and triple-pollen combos cause seeds to shoot up in the air and explode like fireworks (hence the game's name, Flowerworks). In addition, hitting at least two pollen spores with one beam shot makes the flowers release bubbles into the sky. If you pop the bubbles with pollen from your fertilisation beam, you get even more points; as you reach later levels, the screen is littered with pollen and combos are shooting up left and right. All the insanity makes it tough to keep track of which pollen is going to which flowers. Depending on your score, you gain a star ranking between one and five for each level, and you use these stars to bypass garden gnomes blocking your path in the overworld.

The flower-pollenating levels are the bread and butter of Flowerworks, but they're also the game's weakest point. Clunky controls hold the whole game back — you can tell Flowerworks was originally built for Wii and shoehorned onto Wii U controls. This hardly hurts the overworld gameplay since the overworld is so stress-free, but in the reflex-based pollination sequences, poor controls make Flowerworks a hassle to play. Pressing a trigger to switch your target while you're already holding down a shoulder button isn't ideal. Compounding the issue is the fact that Follie automatically targets whatever flower is closest to her, which can be infuriating when you're trying to shoot pollen into a flower on the opposite side of the screen. You can adjust Flowerworks' difficulty any time, but even on "Easy" it takes frustratingly high scores in the pollination levels to progress in the overworld. At the end of the day, the pollination gameplay is not varied or deep enough to motivate players to retry levels over and over like the game wants them to.

A nice addition for this Wii U version of Flowerworks is a two-player mode where you and a friend can fertilise flowers together. The unsatisfying single-player germinating experience becomes much more engaging when there are two people scrambling for pollen; the second player can use either the Wii U Pro Controller or the Wii Remote. The Remote is by far the best control option, as it lets Follie move much more quickly and precisely around the screen during the pollination levels — this makes sense, considering Flowerworks was originally developed for Wii. It seems it would've been simple for Nocturnal to let all players use the original control scheme, but disappointingly the game doesn't let you use the Remote in single player at all, unless the option is cryptically hidden. Wii controls are relegated to Player 2 only, and can only be used within the pollination levels; the player using the Remote can't navigate menus or control Follie on the overworld. With Flowerworks HD's subpar GamePad controls, Remote support for Player 1 would've been a huge boost.

Flowerworks utilises a simple, clean art style lacking in personality. The photorealistic garden gnomes blocking your way are a nice change of pace, but everything else sports the ubiquitous family-friendly look popular in today's casual and mobile games. Follie doesn't even have separate sprites for facing different directions; she's permanently facing forward. The 2D overworld map uses the space behind trees as invisible walls everywhere, even though it looks like there should be enough room for Follie to go behind them. There are some friendly plant NPCs Follie can purchase power-ups from, meanwhile, but their dialogue is generic and forgettable.

From Flowerworks HD's main menu, you can select Quick Play which gets you straight into a pollination level, or you can choose the fairly competent Tutorial which teaches you the basics. The meat and potatoes of Flowerworks, though, is the Adventure mode. Within Adventure mode, Follie moves around the map swiftly, but if you're impatient you can teleport around the map to different seed sites and retry previous levels anytime... assuming you actually want to retry the levels. Of course, the HD update also means a nice 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second. If you already own Flowerworks on WiiWare, these minor upgrades may not make the Wii U iteration worth a second purchase, but it's still nice to see some WiiWare developers taking the time and effort to upscale their products for first-time players on a new generation of hardware.

Conclusion

On paper, Flowerworks is an intriguing 2D action-puzzler spin on the Pikmin aesthetic; the dialogue text even blooms onscreen letter by letter, the same way it does in Pikmin. The Adventure mode features a satisfyingly huge overworld and a soothing electronic soundscape. And for $6 (or $3.50, if you're quick), Flowerworks is a good deal, with a surprisingly lengthy run time that will take you between 15 and 20 hours to complete. But the overworld and soundtrack are merely scrumptious side dishes accompanying an unsatisfying main course; the action-puzzle pollination levels feature clunky controls and not much depth. Aside from adding a second player for double-fertilisation shenanigans, the core game mechanics quickly wear thin. Despite the pleasing coat of HD paint, Flowerworks' last-gen roots are in full display with Follie's Adventure.

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User Comments (42)

TheWhiteFalcon

#2

TheWhiteFalcon said:

I bought it because it was $3.50. I've spent worse money, and the brief time I spent with it seemed to leave a good impression.

rjejr

#3

rjejr said:

I feel like I've played this but dont' recall buying it. Anybody know if its possible the Wiiware version had a demo?

I was planning on buying this, even picked up a $10 eShop card at Target, but maybe Ill just buy Superstar Saga instead. And Child of Light is in 10 days.

If Wiimote and nunchuck support is in there for player 1 - I swear I played this that way before, maybe I did buy it - then Ill pick it up. Move w/ nunchuck in overworld, shoot w/ A change flower target w/ B.

noctowl

#4

noctowl said:

I bought it on impulse because it was cheap. Not really enjoyable so far.

Zach

#5

Zach said:

I bought it and am liking it, I'd give it 7/10, seems like a great value to me. Of course not trying to disagree with the review, just providing a second opinion

MixMasterMudkip

#6

MixMasterMudkip said:

I agree. The level's are pretty bothersome. Like, why can I control Follies movement on the touchscreen, but nothing more. You have to use the triggers which quickly become a mess in your fingers. If the let you aim at a flower by tapping it, and had Follie shot pollen by tapping her it would have been much better.

TTGlider

#7

TTGlider said:

After buying this and Blok Drop U, I'm not buying another game on release day out of "goodwill" or "showing support for WiiU". The mention of the gnomes is funny. They are indeed "photorealistic" which is completely bizarre set against the extremely primitive, grid based overworld. And how such a simple overworld isn't able to scroll smoothly very perplexing.

Tuteshot

#9

Tuteshot said:

I´m having a lot of fun with this game. Specially co-op. I think that using the touch screen is really good as it lets you burst bubbles when you move towards them, which makes it easier to get a better score as you dont need to aim the polem to burst them. Its a 7.5/10 for me, really worth the money :D

sinalefa

#10

sinalefa said:

Put me in the supporters camp. Played around an hour. Found it fun and 'one more try' addictive. Love the music. Controls are not that hard to get used to.

I agree that movement during overworld is clumsy but not a deal breaker. For me this would be a 7

Stargazer

#11

Stargazer said:

I got this because I really liked the Wii version and wanted to support the dev. I am baffled that you can't use Wii remote controls in single player. Maybe they will patch it, but with the no-doubt low sales I don't see it happening.

accc

#13

accc said:

They took out the Wiimote controls in single player?! What were they thinking???

Stargazer

#14

Stargazer said:

@accc You can hop in as a second player and do it that way and just move player 1 to the edge of the screen. Still dumb.

Sean_Aaron

#15

Sean_Aaron said:

Hopefully remote controls can be put back with a patch. I recall enjoying this (I did the WiiWare review after all), so hopefully it will get some lovin'

Cathousemaster

#16

Cathousemaster said:

Hi everyone - this is Michael from Nocturnal again. Your feedback is really appreciated, so bring it on.

We are actually going to patch this shortly (long story!). WiiRemote controls are still in there, but because of the way the WiiU works we decided to make player 1 use the GamePad. I felt that forcing the player to switch between the GamePad and WiiRemote for 1 player was ridiculous. If WiiRemote support is in there, it has to work for the entire game (overworld, menus, game sections, etc).

Personally, I definitely preferred the "direct" WiiU controls (touch/buttons/analog) over the indirect WiiRemote controls. Then again, I don't play any of my WiiU games with a WiiRemote.

One of the strongest feedback points we had on the WiiWare version, was that people hated seeing a "mouse pointer" on the screen, which we'll have to bring back to control the entire game with a WiiRemote.

You can pause the game at anytime - just use the HOME button. But you can't abort levels, just like the WiiWare version. If there are enough requests, I'm happy to add a in-game menu with two options (Continue, Quit).

I'll have a look to see whether we can get the WiiRemote easily working for player 1. You might have to start a level in 1-player mode (otherwise pressing something will activate 2-player mode), hit a button on the GamePad (i.e. + or -), then we can let a secondary controller take over.

Adding full Wii Remote support for the entire game again will be significant work.

Has anyone played with the WiiU Pro Controller? We spent a lot of time implementing that (and generally supporting multiple types of controllers) - is anyone using it?

Thanks again for the feedback - and be honest, we can take it ;).

kwandar

#17

kwandar said:

Got this and it is great fun. As a co-op game I'd give it a 8/10 without hesitation.

Play it with my daughter, and with girl's it is really great - loves to see the gardens bloom and grow.

JakeShapiroAdmin

#18

JakeShapiro said:

@Cathousemaster Michael, thanks so much for the thorough and thoughtful response. I know you guys are a small team, so I was a bit nervous about being so negative in my review. I hope you can see there was a lot I still enjoyed about the game; I look forward to whatever Nocturnal puts out next!
-Jake

Cathousemaster

#19

Cathousemaster said:

I do understand the feedback, so no offense taken - I've been in the industry too long for that ;). That said, I have pretty much exactly the same thoughts on the game, and none of the feedback surprises me so far.

Flowerworks HD for us is a balancing act: I never want to put out "crap", but how much time is it worth spending polishing a previously released game like this? I'll much rather spend my time working on a all-new, WiiU exclusive... and I'm sure you all will too.

That said, unless this covers some of our costs there won't be any more games from us. So its a balancing act.

...

As a compromise, I'm going to see if I can quickly add a in-game menu - that will also have an option for switching Player 1 to one of the Bluetooth controllers. This setting will be remembered between level sessions as well. You will still have to use the GamePad for menus and overworld. Its not ideal, but its the best I can do for now - it will allow 1-player WiiRemote or Pro control. 2-player games will probably require player-1 to use the GamePad as well.

Would this satisfy the people that want it?

sinalefa

#20

sinalefa said:

@Cathousemaster

I want to personally thank you for the game. I have been having a good time so far, and things like switching the difficulty level anytime and the first month discount are great touches that I wish more developers would adopt. And also this kind of interaction between players and dev teams.

If you add a pause menu, please consider adding an option to restart the level as well. Sometimes I know I messed up and I would rather replay the level from the beginning to try again.

I was worried about the game using colors since I am color blind. Not sure if later on the game will implement many colors, but I like how you combine the pollen for secondary colors. I cannot distinguish most purples from blues, but I can set apart the blue from the red, so I can combine them to make purple. That was also a great touch.

I hope this review does not discourage people from getting the game, as I would love to see your next project.

JakeShapiroAdmin

#21

JakeShapiro said:

@Cathousemaster Those fixes would be great! As the commenter above me said, this level of interaction between players and the dev team is something I wish more companies in the industry would adopt. I'm saddened to hear Flowerworks HD may be your last game if it doesn't perform well enough. I hope that's not the case.

Stargazer

#22

Stargazer said:

@Cathousemaster Yes, it would.

I'd also love to see the overworld scrolling smoothed out but I'll take what I can get.

I was actually hoping you'd release this on Vita and make use of the rear touch pad. I think it would work nicely (with front touch options as well, of course).

kwandar

#23

kwandar said:

@Cathousemaster

I'm having a great time with my 8 year old daughter playing this game - we both get annoyed at each other taking the other's pollen - now if we can just get through that darn desert part!!

Really .... a bargain and I was VERY surprised how good it was, and how much my daughter got into it. Great game for parents to play with kids - all equal.

Zodiak13

#24

Zodiak13 said:

I actually bought this game on feeling alone. Not normally my style of game, but I will say I have enjoyed the game so far. Only about 2 hours in, but I can tell that care was still put into the game even with this obviously being a budget title as it were. My son played as well and he had fun with it also. I agree on the restart thing @Sinalefa said. I also hope you folks can keep making games, because I think your on the right track.

Cathousemaster

#25

Cathousemaster said:

Thanks again for the feedback everyone - we love it. I think having this sort of direct conduit between developers and gamers/users is essential - but unfortunately, its unlikely to happen with bigger projects or companies.

Feedback on above:
@sinalefa: thanks for the comment on the blue/purple thing, its a good point. In the patch I'm planning on adding some stripes to the purple pollen, to really differentiate them. If you have issues with any of the other colours, please let me know.

I also like the restart idea (although if the quit/play is quick enough, its close). But we all like a fast "restart" - I'll try and get that into the menu too.

@Stargazer: overworld 'smoothing' isn't an easy thing to do, due to the nature of the game. That said, if you use the touch screen and the auto-navigation it should be very smooth between moves.

As for the Vita - I'm not so sure. Apart from being keen to stay Nintendo exclusive, I think it may be hard to play on such a small screen - even playing with pure touch/direct control on the GamePad isn't ideal (but using the GamePad as a indirect panel for a TV is better). Might look at that in the future, but it won't be something done anytime soon (be a big project).

Looking into the patch now, but just to dash hopes of any immediate fixes: its going to have to go through a Nintendo submission/testing process, so its likely to be 2-3 weeks before its live (at best). Its definitely going to happen though, and the European version will have these improvements at launch.

Sean_Aaron

#26

Sean_Aaron said:

@Cathousemaster Wow, that's fast work! I'm certainly looking forward to playing this with my daughter (ten) who wasn't playing games when the WiiWare title launched. All the best; looking forward to the European release!

@JakeShapiro I know what you mean, but nobody benefits from blind approval and an honest creator can acknowledge the flaws in their creation.

If a small developer is making a real effort it comes through - doesn't mean it will be great, but then that's just a lesson in life and hopefully they can take your criticism with the right attitude. People can take things personally and I've had people come at me after a less than stellar review, but as long as you feel your review is fair and honest I don't think you have anything to worry about.

JustinH

#27

JustinH said:

@Cathousemaster I think the game is fun, but I'll admit I'm not really great at it. One thing I'd gripe about is the price — everyone is jacking up Canadian prices way past the rate of exchange to the US dollar and I know a lot of people grumbling about it. I don't expect anyone to lose money selling a game in Canada of course, but I guess it just makes me sad because I thought if anyone would be sympathetic our plight, it'd be an Aussie :(

That said I don't have much to add to the feedback already stated, except that navigating the overworld can be more difficult than I'd think it should be — a couple rocks will be in your way and Follie just runs into them at a dead halt instead of walking over or gliding around. It seems like a minor thing and it is, but there's big stretches of the overworld you have to walk across and it'd be good if it were a smoother experience.

All in all I'm glad I bought the game. It's good for a bit of fun over a weekend. I can see some people really loving the gameplay if they give it a shot.

Cathousemaster

#28

Cathousemaster said:

@JustinH: what do you mean about the Canadian price? All the prices were set based on the current exchange rate compared to the US dollar (possibly with some minor rounding up/down - and usually down).

It should be retailing for $3.50 USD in the US, and $4.00 CAD in Canada ... is this correct? If not, please let me know!

As for an Aussie being sympathetic ... have a thought for us: because the classification costs in Australia are so high, we are not going to release the game here at all. So I'll never get to play or show this to people on my WiiU :(

I know some of the overworld navigation is 'annoying', but its also at your leisure, and there is no penalty for bumping into things (you'll never lose or fail anything!). Additionally, if you touch a location on the GamePad, Follie will "auto-route" there, without bumping into things. This is especially useful in the forest maze (which is quite hard!).

Work on the first "patch" is progressing well: a few fixes and improvements are in, the in-game menu is working, and I'm looking at player-1 controller changes. Hopefully it should be ready for submission within a day or two.

JustinH

#29

JustinH said:

@Cathousemaster Yeah, it's $4 CAD, which comes to about $3.65 USD right now. I don't blame anyone for rounding up because I understand it's a business, but it is a little frustrating — two years ago when the Canadian dollar was at $1.05 USD, we weren't asking for any discounts (and we sure didn't get any).

That said I hear about what you guys deal with Down Under, spending $100 for games and seeing some games infinitely delayed, so that's definitely worse!

Glad to hear about the patch. Will make sure to check it out when it's live.

Sup

#30

Sup said:

Sorry to hear it won't be getting a release in Australia, where I am. However, you can (fairly) simply create a "foreign" account on your Wii U to access the eshop from other countries and purchase games from there. They are then playable on your Wii U as normal. I will be doing this to make my purchase!

Oragami

#31

Oragami said:

@Cathousemaster I was on the fence about buying this game, but you telling us that there will be a patch released soon has completely convinced me to get it.

I probably would have anyway. After all, I bought Percy's Predicament (got it today, haven't played yet).

jbrewer99

#32

jbrewer99 said:

@Cathousemaster it sure would for me. Haven't picked the game up yet as I'm out of town, but I will later tonight when I get home. Looks relaxing and I'm hoping my daughter will like it. I've been having a hard time finding a game she has enough interest in to get her started gaming. She's 6. My 3 year old son though has no problem and has been playing mario games for almost a year now. It helps that both mom and dad play to get him into it. Here's hoping Flowerworks does it for the girl. The game looks great to me, but I've played the original. Keep up the good work and I'm looking forward to your teams next project on wii u.

kwandar

#33

kwandar said:

@Cathousemaster

Cathousemaster said "... have a thought for us: because the classification costs in Australia are so high, we are not going to release the game here at all. So I'll never get to play or show this to people on my WiiU :("

Now now now ... just do what we Canucks do. Set up an alternate ID for another country and buy the game there. Really stupid that we have to do this, I know, but I find myself doing this because I get 20% off Nintendo eshop cards in the US.

Cathousemaster

#35

Cathousemaster said:

@JustinH: You can put the pricing down to "rounding" then - it definitely wasn't a business decision. For example - If the price would have come to $4.30 CAD, it would still be $4.00, not $4.50. Its good feedback to know that people are this sensitive to pricing - from now on, I'll be rounding down on all currency conversions. I'll look at changing the full price in Canada from $7 to $6.50 CAD (which makes it cheaper than the the US price, etc).

As far as foreign accounts go - I have done that on my 3DS, but it seems harder on the WiiU (can't remember why :P). Plus, we definitely won't get access to US or Canada games - UK might be the only other English region we get. So its a good point - when it releases in Europe, I'll see if I can switch account and get a copy :)

Sean_Aaron

#36

Sean_Aaron said:

@Cathousemaster If it's like the Wii was then what would have been called "PAL Territories" should be able to interoperate. When I re-purchased Samurai Warriors 3 the seller sent me a sealed Aussie version - works just fine with my old save data.

I look forward to the day when all nations can agree a common rating system. I don't understand what's so difficult about this!

Zach

#37

Zach said:

@Cathousemaster Thanks for the game! Really like it. And I'm looking forward to the patch! Would it be possible to have it so you can swap what flower you're aiming at with a button press, rather than having to go near said flower and then press the button? I think it'd help a lot. It'd be nice to be able to type a name in too, instead of just selecting one from a short list. Sorry if these have already been addressed, I haven't gotten a chance to read all the comments yet! Thanks again, and thanks for communicating with players!

Cathousemaster

#38

Cathousemaster said:

@Zach: thanks for the comments!

1/ The original PC release (a long time ago) allowed for direct name entry - but since it didn't impact the game at all, it just slowed down the console version and added a remarkable amount of complexity (for no gain!). I would only consider re-adding this for console, if there was a solid purpose behind it. Choosing a name is really just tagging a save slot.

2/ We also used to have the "press button to toggle flower selection", but it didn't work at all, and actually made the game a lot more complicated and harder to play. This might be different now, that the game supports direct movement (as it takes time to move around the screen, unless you use touch or Wiimote pointer). Its not going to make this patch (sorry!), but I'll consider it if we do a second patch down the track.

While I'm here, I'll drop an update on the patch - which is almost complete, and just needs a lot of testing before we send it off to Nintendo. Any feedback, please let me know ASAP!

  • When a level starts, Player 1 can "choose" any input device, exactly the same way "Player 2" can. This is how player 1 will be able to use Wiimote or Pro control in the game. After Player 1 chooses, Player 2 then gets a chance to also choose (as before).
  • The overworld / menu controls have been opened up, to allow input from any device (not just the GamePad). As a result, its possible to play the entire game now with a Pro or Wiimote controller, without needing to use the GamePad at all. There are a couple of minor exceptions, relating to some of the in-menu controls (touching locations on the map for teleport, etc).
  • in game menu is in, but its just "Quit" / "Continue". Retry would have caused some issues (and been blocked in Arcade mode anyway, otherwise that would promote "cheating") - and because there is 0 loading time, it literally takes around 2 seconds to quit a level, and restart it.
  • changed the purple/blue pollen, to make them more obviously different
  • a few (minor) defects have been fixed

Thanks!

  • Mike :)
CrabGats

#40

CrabGats said:

@Cathousemaster Please consider lowering the difficulty! It took me about 30 minutes to get 5 stars on the first level on easy, after an endless struggle on normal, mind you. Either lower the score threshold or increase point values in game modes pleaaaase. It'd be really appreciated.

Cathousemaster

#41

Cathousemaster said:

@CrabGats: You are not meant to get 5 stars on the first level, not initially anyway. As you progress through the game you collect powerups, which enables higher scores on all levels.

I usually play hard or master - and getting 2-3 stars on the first level initially is a good effort. But by the time you get near the end of the game, its easy to get 5 stars on level 1 (even on a hard difficulty).

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