As any parent who has helped a child shepherd a lowly bean seed from germination to fruition knows, kids love to grow things. In Green Up, a universal app from isy Games, kids grow a variety of seeds in different environments.
Green Up bears a superficial resemblance to games such as Flower Garden and Pocket Frogs, but its focus is more like a digital science project with gaming elements rather than a game that simply borrows from the natural world. After playing Green Up children will likely know a sepal from a stamen.
Upon opening Green Up, the player sees a main screen with slots for three different players to begin games. After the player has entered each habitiat this screen also tracks what time of year it is in the four habitats: desert, deciduous forest, jungle, and Mediterranean forest.
There is a helpful tutorial that walks the player through planting the a strawberry seed. While the tutorial gives players a basic idea of how Green Up works it doesn’t include nuances, so kids will still have to pay attention to factors such as which seed should be planted in each habitat, if they want their seeds to grow into flowering plants.
To play the game alone a child definitely needs to be an independent reader, but younger children will probably also enjoy the game if they play with an older child, a parent, or a teacher.
Gameplay proceeds once the player chooses a seed from the menu on the right. After planting, the seed may require water, fertilizer, or other care to allow it to grow. A player can protect his plants from pests using a nifty bug vacuum (technically, it’s an insect aspirator) and use green houses when a frost is coming.
Users can pause gameplay or speed it up using the buttons at the top of the screen. During the growth cycle players can also answer questions (e.g. What is the function of the root?) from Dr. Green. Answering Dr. Green’s question lets the player peek at his plant’s health, and is useful if one needs to know if a particular plant needs fertilizer or water. Hint: Tap the seed notebook on the main page to view two plant diagrams and have nearly all the facts a player needs to answer Dr. Green’s questions correctly.
Players learn how to pollinate flowering plants with bees, the wind, or even a bat. Once the plant is ready to harvest, a player can add it to his notebook, and he may also choose gift such as another seed or additional fertilizer.
While the seed is growing, players can also tap treasure chests to reveal additional prizes.
Although there are only ten seeds to grow, there is still plenty to keep junior botanists busy. Some of the seeds are more challenging to grow than others and might take a few tries before one reaches maturity.
Download Green Up from the App Store for $1.99.
What I liked: Nothing in Green Up is wasted. The bugs a player catches become food for the Venus Fly Trap, and if a plant dies it is composted on the spot. The app’s soundtrack, featuring four songs by Erik Satie, was a cut above standard background music.
What I didn’t like: At times the games interface is a little clunky. It was also difficult to remember how to tell the Mediterranean forest from the deciduous forest without backing up to the main menu.
To buy or not to buy: Kids who are inherently interested in the natural world will enjoy growing digital plants in Green Up. It is also a great resource for teachers who want to help their students connect plant anatomy to its physiology.
- App Name: Green Up
- Version Reviewed: 1.0
- Category: Education
- Developer: isy Games
- Price: $1.99