Queen's Garden takes a leaf from games like Candy Crush and Bejewelled, which is no surprise considering it was initially released for smart devices. It's a good addition to your Wii U if you enjoy match-3 puzzles but lacks in the whole 'garden' side of things, with more customization and depth needed.
The difficulty level can be adjusted according to preference with the choice of relaxed, timed and move restricted game modes, allowing playability for seasoned puzzlers and newcomers alike. The main gameplay comes from the 100 match-3 puzzles, however, there are also the occasional hidden object and memory game bonus rounds. Another element of gameplay comes from unlocking and purchasing features for the garden.
The puzzles are fine, very much the same as many other match-3 mobile games, with each icon being garden themed. There are also 'powers' for the games which you earn by matching a certain icon - a gopher, a thunderbolt, a hummingbird and an axe. So for example, if you match carrots the score will build up and eventually a gopher power can remove a line for you. The only issue with the puzzle side is the lack of explanation. There isn't much to say what does what so, for example, there are 'special gems' on the grid which appear similar to power candies in Candy Crush, but there is no explanation to say this. There is the odd time like this where you will have to use trial and error unless you have played other similar titles, in which case you will likely know what you are doing.
Besides that there are no complaints in terms of execution, everything works how it should and if you take too long to find a match the system will help you out by showing a little arrow. There are also hide and find bonus levels, in which you will have to find a particular number of, say, gardening items - there aren't many of these, though, and a few more acting as milestones would have worked a lot better than just randomly stumbling across a bonus level every now and then.
The theme of Queen's Garden is unique, but it would have done well to focus more on the garden side of the game. For each puzzle you complete you earn coins. After the completion of each puzzle you return to the garden and can buy and add items using your coins. You can only choose from three options for each item, so for example three kinds of bridge varying in cost, and where you place them is predetermined. It's not a very rewarding experience, as the Queen just walks around the garden once you're done and, ultimately, every garden will look similar due to the pre-placement of the items. It would have been beneficial to take some elements from other simulated games, like Farmville, and allow you to place items where you want, choose from a wider variety of items, and share with Miiverse. As it stands there isn't much of an end goal in mind and we can wonder why this element was even placed into the game, as it seems kind of like an afterthought.
The game is not optimised for Wii U, and you will spend the majority, if not all, of the time looking at the GamePad as opposed to the TV screen. The control buttons are not used, with the game being solely touch screen. This would make us think the Queen's Garden might have been a better addition to the 3DS instead of a console game, as it is more of a dip in/dip out game to play on the go. Also, the grid looks tiny on the gamepad, and there is no zoom function.
The graphics are ok, nothing spectacular but they don't need to be. The animation leaves a lot to be desired, the Queen just walks from A to B from a birds eye view, and the other characters just pop up from the bottom of the screen when they need to explain something. The levels have different backgrounds, which is good as it adds some variety, but they don't often make sense. You jump from field to farmhouse to dungeon and it's a bit odd; why would you be gardening in a dungeon?
The audio is a bit of a mixed bag, with two main themes playing throughout the puzzles. There is one which is grating, and one acoustic number which is quite relaxing in comparison. These fade in and out at random intervals, which is a bit strange. Different or alternating music for different levels would have been less distracting. The sound effects are also a strange choice, they are loud and off theme with an almost Sci- Fi vibe, but luckily they can be turned off.
If you like match-3 puzzles the Queen's Garden is a good addition to your Wii U library; there is a lot of gameplay to be had for the price. However, if you are looking for the customization and social side of a gardening simulation game this will disappoint, as the 'garden' element leaves a lot to be desired.