It’s that time of the year when the temperature gets nice, the sun shines late into the evening and you pack away the winter coats. Thoughts turn to yardwork and gardening for the more outdoorsy people. Then there are those that the outdoors holds nothing but pain and suffering; pollen makes for itchy eyes and sniffly noses, insects bite, and the sun burns the skin. For those that dare not wander into the great outdoors or just plain don’t actually want to, but still want a gardening experience (of sorts) there is Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends. Grab your sunbonnet and let’s pull some weeds.
Mama has built a small farm near a forest. Her forest friends have started businesses that could benefit from the fruits of your labor. Time to dig in.
Controls and Gameplay
Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends is basically two game styles in one. There is the gardening sim side and there is the quick mini game side. Each in-game morning starts with a request from a forest friend and a letter in your mailbox. The forest friend request a number of flowers, fruits, or vegetables from your garden; the letter is a request for help from someone to complete a task in their garden.
The letter request will take you to a mini game where, once you complete it, you are rewarded with seeds for your garden. The mini games are quite varied and all involve using the touch screen. Each mini game is pretty simple once you understand the mechanics. For example one of the mini games has you catching green peppers in a basket as they roll off one of three conveyor belts. You just need to move the basket from side to side. Occasionally a pepper will bounce across all three conveyor belts making it challenging to catch, but for the most part it’s a simple game. There are the more involved mini games, like supporting carrots. You have to straighten up carrots and then scrape dirt up to a specific line onto both sides in order to keep the carrot upright. The varied nature of the mini games keeps them challenging and mostly fun.
After you finish a mini game you will earn a score out of 100 and a medal rating of bronze, silver, or gold. There are 50 mini games total that will result in 50 different types of plants you will be able to grow.
The garden sim side is not complicated either. As I said earlier, you’ll get requests for various things from your garden. If you have the seeds it’s a simple matter of planting them, watering them daily, and then when they bloom or bare fruit you harvest the items and ship them to the forest friend who requested it. Gardening is mostly management of your limited garden space and waiting on things to grow. Managing space is more important early in the game because your garden size is limited. As you fulfill requests your garden will level up and you will gain more space to grow plants. Watering might be the hardest part because you can over water plants. Over water once and it knocks the plant’s quality down from gold to silver.
Once you fulfill a request for a forest friend they will reward you with “shopping tickets” which are the in game currency. With these you can go to the store and buy decorations for your garden or additional seeds for plants that you have unlocked.
Off the main menu there are two extra selections. The first is called “Help Out” which takes you directly to all the mini games you have played. Here you can try to score a better medal if you wish. The second is “Take A Photo.” This mode uses the 3D camera to take a photo which you can decorate with plants and characters from the game. It’s cute, but from what I can tell it’s not of much importance.
Graphics and Audio
Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends keeps the super happy, big head, small body, childlike cartoon style that the Mama series is known for. Interestingly the simple cartoon style makes this the best game I’ve seen in 3D, I’m able to push the slider all the way to max 3D and it looks good.
Super happy, fun time style songs also plays at all times; which fits the art style and tone of the game. The voice actors are a mixed bag. Mama still speaks English with a Japanese accent, as do some of her family and friends. On the other hand there are family and friends that speak clear English and, of those, their performances vary from good to “well they said the line.”
The Mama series keeps trucking on and Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends shows the series isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. As someone who had not played a Mama game before, I really didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a quirky game that is great for an on-the-go quick game fix, but at the same time it’s also something I can sit and play for a while growing plants and fulfilling orders.
The only problem that I had was that the mini games give you minimal instruction, which resulted in less than stellar scores. Granted that’s nitpicking, since that is kind of the nature of mini games. Some mini games, once I figured out what I was supposed to do, went much smoother. Some, but not all.
Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends is a quirky title with fun mini games and cute garden sim that will grow on you. I give it a 4 out of 5.
Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends is rated E for Everyone for Alcohol Reference by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
For more information see the official Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends web site.