Developer: Soco Software
Platforms: iPad (Reviewed), iPhone, iPod Touch
Release Date: October 4th, 2012
Price: $0.99 Get it Here
Chillingo has brought Soco Software’s, a Chinese game developer, latest game to the English market. Grow Away! pits a legion of vegetables defending themselves against twisted animals looking to snack on them. Players are armed with a variety of power ups and vegetables willing to fling themselves at the enemy with spirited kamikaze vigour. Does Grow Away! have what it takes to become the next Plants Vs. Zombies?
There is not much story involved with Grow Away! Monsters have eaten so much junk food that they have gone a little nuts and now are trying to break through the garden fence to eat vegetables. Now, the vegetables have decided to hurl themselves at the monsters. I suppose this is the valorous suicide of a few vegetables for the greater good of the rest?
Players fire vegetables with a help of a slingshot to attack a variety of enemies and bosses in Grow Away! The normal ammunition is the humble tomato (which technically is a fruit by the way) and players will have access to a variety of special vegetables with special abilities that have a short cool down. Players will drag the vegetable back and angle their shot and release to fire. Hold the vegetable back long enough and the shot will be powered up and provide a special bonus ability that will send enemies flying. When in a bind, players can deploy a variety of special items to turn the tide of the battle and buy some extra time. At the end of the level, players are ranked based on their accuracy, speed, and remaining health of their fence.
The enemies are varied with special abilities and different statistics, requiring different tactics to combat them. This actually required a good bit of strategy to deal with depending on the size of the attacking group. However, eventually some parts of the game required the extensive use of special items rank well in the game. This would not be a huge issue if it was not for the fact beyond the fact four basic items are the only items purchasable with the common gold coin currency. The rest need to be purchased with the much rarer red gems that drop once every five to ten levels. These gems are often horded to purchase extra slots for special vegetables and items. I get the sinking feeling that the game is nudging me to make an in app purchase of gems.
The gameplay itself is rather enjoyable as a casual game if you are not playing for perfect three star rankings. It’s great in short bursts in story mode and there are two other options to play. There is a short gambling type mini games that give opportunities to earn bonus coins and red gems at an entry cost and there is a longer survival mode available that removes the ability to select your vegetable. You simply fire away until your defenses are gone.
Grow Away! features a fun cartoony visuals that is family friendly. All the units, both friend and foe, are unique and very easy to spot. Visually, this game is perfect for kids and adults alike. The graphics scale well for Retina displays, even up to the new iPad’s monstrous sized display. There are no graphical slowdowns and the animations are smooth as butter. The UI is smartly designed for the most part, however I found myself bumping into the pause button a few times when franticly flinging fruit into the enemy. Placing the pause button on the top of the screen rather than the bottom would have been a wiser choice.
The sound effects are fun enough to listen to, but play Grow Away! for more than 3 minutes and you will come to realize that you are listening to the same song on loop over and over again ad nauseum. There is one tune for the menu and one tune for the game. For the first ten minutes of playing or so, the song is pretty catchy. But put in any more time and you will find yourself muting your device’s sound. Two different songs for each zone would have been really nice.
For $0.99, I cannot recommend this game. Although the graphics are decent, and the gameplay decent albeit slightly repetitive, the game seems to be rather bent on encouraging in app purchases. It seems practically impossible to nail perfect scores as the game progresses without spending some money to purchase a quantity of red gems. On top of it, the soundtrack is so maddeningly lacking, I found myself muting my iPad after a while. If this game was more reasonably priced as a free to play game with an emphasis on the in app purchases like similar games on the App Store, then I’d be more compelled to recommend this game as a coffee break time waster.
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