Plant Tycoon

by PocketGoddess on February 27, 2004

Plant Tycoon is from LDW Software the makers of Little Palm Pet. In some ways, Plant Tycoon is a similar sort of game, except that instead of raising a Tamagotchi-like puppy or cat, you’re raising plants and flowers in a nursery. Fortunately you don’t have to have a completely green thumb, but you do have to have a keen mind and a sharp head for business. The game starts out easily enough, with a helpful tutorial to show you exactly what you need to do to get started– put some soil in one of the fifteen available growing pots, add some water, and add a seed. After that it’s a matter of nurturing your plants by watering them when necessary, pollinating then when they’re mature, and gathering the seeds so that you can grow more plants.

That’s only part of the game though, because the object is to find the four magic plants from Isola. This is accomplished by crossbreeding the plants to create new varieties, and it’s a lot of fun! I started out with some rather boring plants, like a cactus and a fern, and now that I’ve been playing over the last week I have flowers of every color and description as well as ivys, ferns, bushes, and miniature trees. Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether to let a plant pollinate itself or try mixing pollen from two different plants, but that’s part of the fun. Once new seeds are created, you have to grow a plant from them to see exactly what the results will be. As you get more and more advanced plants, you’ll have to upgrade your soil and water, or the hybrids will tend to die. Or you can use the radioactive plant food that causes extra blooms and also restores plants to full health. Once you’ve gathered all the seeds you want, it’s time to sell the plant.

Marking plants for sale is very simple– just tap on the dollar sign when you’ve selected the right plant. That brings up a box that allows you to set the price and put it on the market. Then you tap the sell box at the top of the screen to check out your actual nursery, along with the customers that are browsing the plants you have for sale. This can be something of a hit or miss proposition though. As the tutorial explains, if your prices are too low, the plants will sell immediately. If the prices are too high, your plants can sit there forever and no one will buy them. As you play the game, it will get easier and easier to figure out how much each of your plants are worth. I’ve found one particular variety that commands a high price, and I’ve keept a few seeds in reserve so I can be sure of a steady stream of income.

That sort of decision-making is very important because you’re not only a gardener and amateur geneticist, but also an entrepreneur with a nursery that sells plants to the public. You need to earn money in order to upgrade your soil and water choices, buy plant food to get more flowers, and fountains to attract visitors to your business. This part of the game is actually the most appealing to me, as I really enjoy this sort of thing and dream of someday owning my own retail store. Plant Tycoon is not the real thing of course, but it does have plenty of lessons for you to learn about inventory management (there are only so many pots for your plants to grow in, and a limited amount of space in your seed trays), supply and demand (how much can I get for each plant before I price it above what my customers are willing to pay), and overhead costs (fountains attract more customers, but they’re very expensive). I’ve also learned some lessons on how to cut my losses: sometimes plants get infested with insects, and I have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to spend $40 on a can of insect spray.

Plant Tycoon is just about perfect in every way– the gameplay is fun and very different from your typical handheld shoot ‘em up or solitaire game. The sound effects are just right, from the sound of the water to the ring of the cash register when a plant is sold. You can turn off those sound effects though, and you can also control both the difficulty and the speed of the game. Since this is something of a tamagotchi-style simulator, it’s important to pay attention to your plants. That’s easy to do, since Plant Tycoon is so addictive. But if you’re going to be away from the game for more than a day, you can pause it so that you don’t have to worry about all of your plants dying from lack of water.

Plant Tycoon is available now for Palm OS 5 devices, and it’s a bargain at only $14.95. Hi res 320 x 320 graphics are supported, and a free trial is available. If you have any interest at all in something a little difficult, you owe it to yourself to try it out. Plant Tycoon has earned my coveted PocketGoddess “Perfect 10″ award, as well as a permanent spot on my Tapwave Zodiac. Enjoy, and happy gardening!

PocketGoddess Rating for Plant Tycoon: A Perfect 10!

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