Thanks to Ratalaika Games for the review code
Title: Plantera DX
System: Nintendo Switch/3DS
Release Date: TBA (Switch), 02/09/2017 (3DS)
While both versions share the same pixel visuals and have the same music, there is one major difference between the two systems when it comes to the visuals: visibility! On the 3DS, the wider top screen is used to display the stats of you garden, meaning that the smaller bottom screen is the one you’ll have to do all the action on. This means you’ll need to do a lot of scrolling, even with the first levels of the garden, but the game is still very playable due to the slow pace of the hazards. Sadly, there was no 3D effect that I could notice with this version of the game.
As for the Switch version, it’s by far the best looking one, as the wide screen makes it very easy to scroll though your garden, which looks incredibly crisp on the Switch’s handheld screen. It may lack the stat menu of the 3DS version, (There’s no way to bring that menu up to the best of my knowledge, but the Switch version also lacks a digital manual so it may very well be hiding to the point I haven’t found it yet.) But the extra visibility is a fair trade off in my opinion, since the game’s a lot easier to play when there’s more to see. There’s even an extra song hidden within this version, according to the developers.
Both versions of the game have the same general goal of reaching level 100 and collecting every achievement along the way, although Plantera DX includes a few minor additions that the 3DS/Wii U versions lack, both versions lack the extra achievements offered by the Steam version, with only 21 of the 29 from Steam available to obtain. This isn’t too tragic, since there’s still tons to do and the game can get very addicting for reasons I’ll explain shortly, but it would have been nice to see the DX version truly be the version with the most content, even if the little additions included so far are only minor tweaks and quality of life updates.
In terms of what you actually do in this game to control it, you actually don’t need to do much at all; The main way to gain money upon starting the game is by planting crops, which grow slowly and can be picked by tapping them on the touch screen, or waiting for a Blue Helper to pick it for you. This starts off rather slow at first, but before it can get tiring you’ll be able to expand your garden, which will give you another Blue Helper and more space to plant! And as you earn more money, you’ll gain XP, which allows you to level up and unlock more stuff to use in your garden, along with more Blue Helpers to do the work for you! Once the pace starts picking up and you gain higher multipliers, better quality crops and animals to make higher profits, the game can become very addicting in short bursts, being a game that you plan to only play for a minute at most only to spend ten or more gathering lots of money and warding away wolves, birds and foxes who try to steal your plants.
However, if you don’t have much time to play the game, you don’t need to worry about the game grinding to a halt during a break. In fact, the game will go on auto-pilot when you quit the application, and the next time you open up the app the Blue Helpers will give you gold related to what they collected since you last played the game. This is the best way to make money and XP in the game, and it’s a brilliant way to prevent the game from being as repetitive as it would have been if it forced you to be there every minute of every day. Another bonus exclusive to the PC and Switch versions is the inclusion of a random knight that runs in from the left side of the screen; tapping him as he runs past will get you an insane amount of gold, so following him and taking advantage of the opportunity will led to a nice boost as well.
Unfortunately, for some confusing reason Plantera DX is only playable in Handheld mode, which didn’t give me the ability to record gameplay footage of the game or so much of the game on the TV outside of the title screen. Considering the nature of the game, I can sort of see why they did this, but I can’t help but feel that using a joy-con pointer would make it a lot of fun to play on the TV as well. There’s also no multi-touch support either, despite the fact that the Switch’s touchscreen is more than capable of doing so and it would speed up the game tremendously if implemented. It’s a shame they didn’t go the extra mile with these minor touches for the Switch version, but considering how well it works as a handheld game, I can begrudgingly live with these exclusions.
In conclusion, I found Plantera much more enjoyable on the Switch than I did on the 3DS. Even with the choice to make it a handheld only game on the Switch, it still felt right at home on the Switch, being a great timewaster to play in order to kill time. Unfortunately, despite full english support being included in the game, the Switch version is currently a Japan only release, and it doesn’t seem like that’ll change until later this year at the earliest.
Still, that does leave the 3DS version as an available option for westerners, which while not as content-rich or as addictive as the Switch version, is still a decent option for the same price. But if you can wait a bit for the DX version, (or if you’re willing to import) then I’d recommend that you go get it on the Switch, but for now, the 3DS version is an OK investment as well. So for that I give Plantera DX on the Nintendo Switch an 8 out of 10, while I also give Plantera 3DS a 7 out of 10. Both versions work, but if you have to pick the best portable option the Switch is a no-brainer, despite the lack of multi-touch, TV mode support and a few minor achievements. (everything to do with the Loot Knight)