Queen’s Garden – Wii U

Queen’s Garden is an interesting Match-3 Puzzle game in an overcrowded market. It has the usual tropes of the genre, matching three of the same tile results in them disappearing, allowing those above to tumble down and hopefully create another line of three resulting in a chain reaction. In Queens’s Garden the chain reaction is much less important as each stage has set goals to fulfil in order to progress to the next stage. In some stages you need to clear a set amount of roses and watering cans, and often only in specially designated areas. For example, sometimes you need to clear a set amount of leaves, but they only count if you do in special areas of the board, otherwise it doesn’t count.

In the generous amount of levels, there are some mini-games to break up what may seem monotonous gameplay for some. These come in the form of pair matching memory games and hidden object finding. It’s a nice welcome distraction, but they don’t last long at all.

What sets Queen’s Garden apart from other games in the genre is the nice, if rather superficial, garden customisation which you can improve the Queen’s Garden by decorating it with plenty of items. At the beginning you can only purchase a few different articles for it like pathways and bridges, although after purchasing something from the starting set, more objects will gradually appear for purchase. At first it will seem like you’ll be unlocking things at a spritely pace but it’s not long before the grind sets in. The price for objects will drastically increase, while the coins you earn from the stages doesn’t, or at least less so. It will take you a while to purchase everything.

The grind isn’t so bad or painful as it otherwise could be since you’ll always be playing different stages with different objectives. While the customisation is a nice idea, as stated, it’s really superficial and in the end has no real purpose aside from a dressing up game. Each article has three different options in variety, for example you can choose between three different benches made from different woods. While the amount of permutations might be quite high if you consider all the objects, it still doesn’t feel like enough to be meaningful, and all the objects are preplaced, which is a missed opportunity for some real customisation.

There are some useful power-ups to be used if you need assistance. The beaver (I think it’s a beaver) will destroy everything in one horizontal row as it runs across the screen. There’s a lightening bolt which takes out one vertical column. A hammer destroys any tile you want and the humming bird (or is it a woodpecker?) which destroys all of any specific tile you choose. These can really turn the tides in your favour but can only be used intermittently after charging them up.

In the default settings the power-ups aren’t particularly necessary since there’s no danger of failing the stage they can only help you finish it quicker, usually by destroying obstacles like boxes or ice blocks. When you start the game you are asked if you which mode you want. The default is the endless, carefree setting where you play with no urgency (the setting I played on for the most part), you can also play with a time limit, or a move limit which can certainly make it a more challenging experience.

Artistically Queen’s Garden is a bit all over the place. While the backgrounds and art are nice and colourful, they have no cohesion at all. One stage you’re in a spooky forest, then you’re in a vegetable market or outside of a tavern. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, nor the music and sound effects for that matter which seem to have been chosen at complete random.

It might be obvious to say, but Match-3 puzzle games are for a certain audience only, and while Queen’s Garden probably won’t change the minds of those adverse to the genre, I think it’s an interesting and certain choice for its fans, especially for a younger female audience. While the gardening customisation could have been expanded to be a little more it still has plenty of content, and a nice amount of options for changing your difficult for fans of the genre to enjoy.

Good points

– Plenty of content

– Interesting garden customisation

Bad points

– A little underdeveloped

– Incohesive art and sound

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