Handy: Pikmin Bloom is a nice way to get started, even if you’re not a Nintendo fan

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When Nintendo announced that its next collaboration with Niantic Labs was going to be Pikmin branded, I was surprised. The Pikmin brand is not well known outside of deeply passionate circles of Nintendo fans. But I think that’s about to change with Pikmin Bloom, Nintendo’s latest mobile game hitting the App Store in the US today.

Pikmin Bloom isn’t quite like Pokémon Go. It’s not one of those super engaging games that require hands-on attention. In essence, it’s a health and wellness app disguised as a Nintendo game and that’s not a bad thing. Pikmin Bloom’s main mechanic is simply walking in the real world. Like Pokémon Go, you have to walk to unlock some features of the app. In Pikmin Bloom, you have to walk to plant flowers, collect items, and find more Pikmin to join your team. As you do more of these things, you level up.

The world of Pikmin Bloom is similar to that of Pokémon Go. It is a 3D world map with various special locations plotted on the screen. But instead of gyms, you’ll see plants sprouting. You will also find mushrooms that you need to take down your Pikmin. The gameplay is extremely easy and fun.

Pikmin Bloom integrates with Apple HealthKit so that your steps are recorded in the app whether you have it open or not. There’s a simple dashboard that shows your step count, a map of your day, and a calendar you can log into.

Tapping on a day lets you see your step count, the flowers you planted, and even the photos you took that day. Pikmin Bloom can effectively become your activity app if you want to. The flowers you plant throughout your use also stay there in the game. Your friends will see them on their map, and the more you and other users play, the more alive the world of Pikmin Bloom becomes.

The Pikmin themselves are as expressive as ever. They are wacky little plant-like creatures that follow the sound of your whistle. Feed them nectar and flowers will grow on the tips of their heads. You can collect the flower petals to plant more flowers along your walks.

To earn more Pikmin, you have to walk a lot. It’s very similar to Pokémon Go that way. But instead of battling random encounters, you collect seedlings you need to plant and grow, much like eggs you need to hatch in Pokémon Go. Niantic and Nintendo did a great job taking a good number of them. of the same mechanics in Pokémon Go and applying them to Pikmin in a way that feels natural.

But taking a lot of Pokémon Go also means that Pikmin Bloom has adopted some of the worst traits of that game, namely the shop. Pikmin Bloom has a store with in-app purchases and a special coin system to purchase items, petals, special packs, and upgrades. The prices seem to be almost the same as the items in Pokémon Go, so they’re not astronomical. But you have to be careful not to overspend.

Once you really start playing the game, you will start to level up. As you walk, collect more Pikmin and items, your in-game character will grow in level. The app gives you a bunch of ways to level up, and it’s pretty straightforward. You can also earn badges, both for Pikmin-related tasks and for exercise.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Pikmin Bloom is that it’s fast and smooth. Unlike Pokémon Go, which is very janky and frequently drops pictures, Pikmin Bloom is incredibly well designed. The animations are smooth, the buttons are nice and sparkling, and the app loads quickly.

Pikmin Bloom is free on the App Store for iPhone and iPad. You can download it today. This requires you to create an account, but you can use several different methods to sign in. If you’re trying Pikmin Bloom, let us know how you like it in the comments below!

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