This past week, a new game from Nintendo and its Pokémon GO partner Niantic rolled out around the world. Pikmin Bloom – based on the popular Pikmin franchise – is a gentle game controlled by walking around the real world.
Like Pokémon GO, it encourages you to get out and explore your surroundings – but this is a much more laid-back, casual experience that focuses on documenting walks, planting flowers, and growing the titular Pikmin.
If you’ve never played the franchise, Pikmin are tiny creatures that grow from seedlings and explore in packs, collecting detritus and fighting off bugs. There’s no combat here though, with the game instead focusing on real-life exploration and virtual gardening.
You’ll spend most of your time watching flowers bloom around your local environment, not just beautifying the place but also contributing to the growth of your ever-growing gang of Pikmin friends.
Pikmin can be sent out on expeditions to gain experience, collecting fruit and seed shoots and petal refills. Meanwhile, your step count contributes to the hatching of new Pikmin and the game encourages you to take walks daily.
Like Niantic’s other games, as well as a cartoon map view, you can view all this happening in Augmented Reality atop your real surroundings by pointing the camera at the floor and watching the Pikmin and flowers grow and interact.
At the end of each day, the app will present you with a collaged journal entry – a “Daily Lookback” – showcasing your activity that day alongside photos from notable locations you visited. These are a combination of public domain images from local points of interest and (if you allow permission) your own geotagged photos from those places.
Niantic will be hoping Pikmin Bloom is even 10% of the smash hit Pokémon GO has been over the past few years. Interestingly the Harry Potter-themed effort Wizards Unite, also made by Niantic, never quite hit its stride and was recently shut down.
But if you’re a fan of walking, journaling, gardening, or Nintendo games, Pikmin Bloom just might be worth checking out.