After the wild success of Pokemon GO, it wasn’t surprising to see Nintendo ink a deal with Niantic to produce more mobile games that leverage their location-based technology and popular Nintendo characters. Well, technically Pokemon isn’t strictly a Nintendo property, but close enough. The first of these games was to be based on the Pikmin franchise, which started life on the Gamecube in the early 2000s but has seen renewed interest since the re-release of its third mainline entry on the Switch about a year ago. Then, without much warning, the first game from this partnership Pikmin Bloom released on iOS and Android devices this week.
Now, I played and greatly enjoyed the original Pikmin as a young twenty-something a couple of decades ago, but haven’t paid much attention to the series sense. And despite that glorious summer of 2016 when absolutely everybody in the world was playing Pokemon GO, I haven’t been too into that game either. So my initial reaction to a Pikmin mobile game by the Pokemon GO people was “that’s fine" and perhaps it was me having pretty much zero expectations that Pikmin Bloom has been so surprisingly delightful for me since releasing a couple of days ago.
I think what I love so much about Pikmin Bloom is that it doesn’t require much from its players. It’s a walking-based game, and I use the term “game" very loosely. You’ll plant little Pikmin seeds and then your real-world steps are what cause them to grow. Once they’re ready you pluck them from the ground and voila–you have a new little Pikmin to add to your crew. By granting the game access to the Health app it’ll add any steps you accumulate throughout your day towards your progress, even if the game isn’t open or even running in the background.
That last part is key because if this was something I had to remember to open before I went on a walk, or needed to have open and running in my pocket to count towards my step progress, I don’t think I’d bother. The fact that earning steps is so frictionless means I can just pop into Pikmin Bloom whenever I feel like and see what progress I’ve made. There’s more to the game too, like how it tracks your walking routes and essentially creates a journal out of them, or how you can lay down flower blooms along the routes that you take. Perhaps this fun will wear off as more of the game’s mechanics and systems open up, but right now I’m just having a good time growing my Pikmin collection and if a chill activity-based experience sounds cool to you then there’s no harm in checking out Pikmin Bloom for yourself.