Popopo Garden Review—Needs Much More Popopo Polish

PopopoGardenTitle

Popopo Garden from Japanese developer Akira Ohashi is part puzzle game, part action game. The premise is pretty simple—colored blocks called popopo are falling from the sky, onto the playing field. Your object is to bounce them over to the correct position, so that they fit the blocks already on the playing field. When you match them up right, they all disappear and you beat the level.

So it’s sort of a matching game, but a big emphasis is on action. You need to knock the blocks around quickly, since they are falling, and you need to move them just enough to put them where you want. If you move them too far to the edge of the screen, you can’t move them back.

There’s also no gravity effect once they have settled; that is, once they are on the board and have stopped falling, they won’t fall anymore if the blocks beneath disappear. So you often need to juggle the blocks to keep them up in the air, while you remove the ones below, then finally place the blocks you are juggling into the proper spot.

This get complicated because you need to change the color of the cursor to match the blocks you want to move. Easy enough when there are only two colors on the screen, but it can get tricky when there are three. You use the face buttons to change the color of the cursor, and I have no idea how this would work on a touch device. Presumably they have a virtual gamepad.

I think your cursor is a Mi-go, aka Fungi from Yuggoth.

I think your cursor is a Mi-go, aka Fungi from Yuggoth.

It’s a pretty decent premise, but it is marred by a lack of polish that adds a lot of needless frustration and holds it back from even being a decent title. For starters, you constantly have to press buttons to proceed in the game. Levels only take a few seconds to pass or fail, so do I really need to press a button when I am ready for the next attempt? No.

Beyond that, the game starts over from the beginning every time you play. No level select, just start over, including a tutorial. Which I guess is nice, because there isn’t any help, so if you forget how to play the game, you are reminded. But being able to choose where you left off and having a help screen would have been much, much better, especially since there is nothing like a score you need to beat.

The graphics are extremely simple, though at least each color popopo has a different expression on its face. Still, even if the art style was chosen deliberately, there’s no animation of any sort. The sound effects are a little better, sounding like something from an early ’80s arcade shooter.

Quit asking me that!

Quit asking me that!

Popopo Garden illustrates what is so heartbreaking about PlayStation Mobile—potentially good ideas just not getting the time spent in development that they deserve. Yet you can’t necessarily blame the developer, because sales probably don’t justify the time and effort already spent, much less the amount needed to properly finish and polish a game.

Popopo Garden isn’t completely without merit, but it’s so rough that it’s hard to recommend it to anyone, even at its low price. And I can’t think it would have been too difficult to implement a level select screen, which would drastically improve the game.

2.5/10

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Comments

One Response to “Popopo Garden Review—Needs Much More Popopo Polish”
  1. O says:

    A user review section would really help keep us from being forced to review stuff like this. But then again they are coming to us so they don’t get stuck with stuff like this. Damn catch-22’s.

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