I refuse to call Pikmin: Bloom a game.
It should come as little surprise that I have almost no respect for Niantic as a company. For the mobile gaming industry, high greed and low effort go together like pork chops and applesauce, and Niantic managed to find a way to make the Pokemon franchise even greedier than it already was. I may have taken a little too much glee in the fact that Niantic’s post-Pokemon Go projects are all shaping up to be miserable failures. Oh well.
Pikmin Bloom is a glorified pedometer, a standard for Niantic’s cut and paste game design while missing most of what one might consider to be a “game.” As far as the Pikmin IP goes, it’s all cosmetic. There’s nothing Pikmin here outside of the fact that you collect Pikmin. You find Pikmin seeds, walk around until they collect the steps needed to reach maturity, and then you pick them to add to your army. Pick…men…you know I think I’m starting to understand the title. Most Pikmin are 1,000 steps but some cost more.
You get an item once per day that scans your surrounding map for expeditions, which can also be discovered through normal app usage. Expeditions are passive item collections that you send your Pikmin out on and are mostly either fruit or plant pots. They’re actively based on your position and you can decrease or increase the timer by moving your proximity. You do need to send Pikmin out to gather them, limiting how many expeditions you can have going at any given time.
Your other big expedition draw will be nectar, which you can feed your Pikmin to produce petals, which can be activated for a certain amount of time to grow flowers while walking, which remain on the map and produce bonuses to plant growth. It’s all cyclical. It also creates a path toward your house if you’re not careful while playing.
Now Pikmin Bloom can be impressive at times, and not in the way you might expect. For example it’s impressive how an app can be so poorly optimized that my Razer gaming phone stutters from such a graphically unsophisticated title. It’s impressive how badly programmed the Pikmin AI is that I often have to throw nectar five to six times to get them to recognize it’s nearby and eat it before it disappears. It’s impressive how little Bloom recognizes simple screen taps. It’s impressive how much this app loses network connection despite my phone having full bars. And as always with these “games” it’s impressive how quickly it eats my phone’s battery.
I can’t see Pikmin Bloom being the apple of Niantic’s eye simply because it doesn’t set itself up as a whale milking machine. Sure you can pay disgusting prices like $1.50 for a single use growth pot, but do you really care that much? Is it really worth getting another generic Pikmin? Nah. There’s so little to get invested in with this game that it perhaps unintentionally kneecaps its mobile design of fronting you with a $100 cash shop bundle while providing less quality and effort than your average $1 shovelware title on Steam.
Pikmin Bloom, like 99% of the mobile market, is garbage. As a jazzed up pedometer I’d have more kind things to say about it if it didn’t function so poorly and didn’t offer $100 currency packages. But considering Niantic’s ebb and flow since Pokemon Go has been to reskin the same functions under a new brand, this is apparently the best effort we can expect from the company.
And it’s no shock that Nintendo-shill fanboy websites are giving this game near perfect scores despite acknowledging it has nothing going for it.