Review by TIDQ
Welcome to the garden. Please watch for bear maulings upon entering and enjoy your stay.
Over the years, there have been many games geared specifically "for girls." Most of these games are complete garbage, so it's no wonder there aren't more female gamers. Some of them were probably given a Gameboy and a Barbie game when they were a kid, and have been disgusted ever since.
That's why I'm happy to report that Girl's Garden is a game that can be favorably compared in quality to other arcade-style titles of the time, both in action and in difficulty. There's nothing dumbed down about this title.
The genuine and fair challenge of Girl's Garden I'm sure is thanks in no small part to Yuji Naka, the fabled creator of Sonic and head of Sonic Team. As it turns out, Girl's Garden was his very first game. Why would he want to make a girl's game? I have no idea. Probably because there were so few female programmers at the time, he took it upon himself to make a game for girls, or so I'm guessing.
The premise is quite simple. You play a girl. You have a nice pink dress... and nice pink hair... and a nice boyfriend. Oh, and you need to pick flowers from a bear-infested garden to keep your man from leaving you for a skanky red-head. So basically, it's just like most relationships.
Yes, that's right. The premise is to pick flowers from a bear-infested garden and try (and often fail) to avoid getting mauled to death. The game never explains WHY there are so many bears in the garden, or why these crazy people have chosen to LIVE in the bear-infested garden, but that's the reality of the situation.
Avoiding bears to collect flowers isn't easy either. With each progressive round, more obstacles litter the garden, and the bears get faster. As a result, the game becomes extremely challenging. Challenging, and... taunting. Yes, it taunts you. It dares you to win. It dares you to outwit those dastardly bears. It makes you want to play it again just to prove you can't be outdone by some pixelated, furry freaks.
In addition, after every two levels, you have a bonus round where you have to jump over bears for points. First, you have to outrun the bears. Then, you have to jump over them? Why would a girl put herself in such ridiculous danger? Maybe she's a little funny in the head. Maybe her boyfriend is into that kind of thing.
Graphically, it's pretty good. Very colorful, very cheery landscapes and characters are abound. The animation is smooth, and there's really nothing to complain about.
Musically, it's cute. The antiquated jingles serve the game pretty well, although it's nothing you'll be singing in the shower.
As solid and challenging as the game is though, it's still over 20 years old. If you're not the kind of person who enjoys old school arcade-y action games where the goal is to rack up your score, this game isn't going to change your mind. Although it is impressive for its time, it probably has lost quite a bit with age. The theme of fetching flowers in the name of love is a bit silly, and the gameplay isn't quite as addictive as say, Asteroids or Donkey Kong.
All in all, it's not a spectacular game, but definitely solid for a 1984 product. Also definitely worth a look for fans of old school, point-scoring, arcade dexterity exercises.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
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