Title: The Flower Shop
System(s): PC (Also available for Mac and Linux)
Release Date: February 1, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Winter Wolves (Winter Wolves)
ESRB Rating: N/A, I’d say it’s suitable for ages 12 and up
Pros: Nice balance of farming and visual novel, cute anime-style art and storyline, occasionally a few witty and funny lines, can save anytime into multiple slots. Not too long, not too short. Charming. The ending images are especially beautiful.
Cons: Music is somewhat bland, no way to see endings you’ve beaten after you’ve beaten them, no explanation that Steve can get tired and need to rest. No tutorials to explain how to raise stats like “Culture,” “Coolness” or “Determination.”
Overall Score: One thumb up, one sideways; 85/100; B; * * * 1/2 out of 5
Hard work builds character, an adage that is part of the crux of Winter Wolves’ latest game, The Flower Shop. In this visual novel, slash dating simulation, slash farming simulation, players must help a young man who’s floundering in his own life. He’s sent to the country, and it’s up to the player to determine whether or not the experience of living and working on a farm, and meeting the hardworking people who live in the area, changes him.
Slackers get evicted from LA and sent to the boondocks!
Steve is a slacker. His first year in college didn’t go too well, mainly because he didn’t apply himself. As his girlfriend Jill points out, he doesn’t attend class or do the work, and probably only manages to squeak by because he copies the notes she takes in class. He also isn’t the best person, as Jill breaks up with him in the game’s introduction because he’s oogling other girls while he’s with her, at the place where they first met.
After a few days, Steve’s father shows up at his apartment. He’s disappointed in the way Steve is living his life, and the straight D’s Steve received last semester in college don’t help much. (Though Steve tries to assert that “D stands for Diploma.”) He announces that Steve will be spending his summer in Fairbrook, working at his Uncle Sam’s farm as a farmhand. So now, Steve has the opportunity to change his life in a single summer.
It’s all about proper scheduling
While The Flower Shop is billed as a dating and farming simulation, it’s really more of a visual novel with occasional simulation elements. You read what happens in Steve’s adventure, and then chose the appropriate text choices when the time comes. Once you can set a schedule, you’ll spend every morning tending to a small plot of farmland and every afternoon working, resting, jogging, visiting the library, stopping by the flower shop or talking to Jill on the phone. The farming simulation part involves clicking to water plants, removing pests, pulling weeds, planting seeds and harvesting fully grown crops. Visiting the other areas results in scenes with different characters and possibly dialogue choices.
The only real disappointments in The Flower Shop are the music and the inability to keep track of endings you’ve already seen. The music isn’t bad, just bland, and the clicking sound effects didn’t seem necessary. As for the endings, it’s always a nice feature when visual novels or dating sim games allow players to see earned endings from the options menu. It’s disappointing The Flower Shop didn’t offer that feature, especially since Winter Wolves’ previous game, Heileen 2 did. Aside from these two small qualms, The Flower Shop is a sweet game, and the multiple endings provide ample replay value.
There’s one thing I don’t get, and that’s the title. The Flower Shop doesn’t seem to fit. Yes, there’s a flower shop in the town, but it doesn’t have to be a main part, depending on how you play. Fairbrook might have fit better, but that’s just me.
Looking for your first visual novel? Try The Flower Shop.
I’d say The Flower Shop is a good, “lite” visual novel. It’s a neat and tidy little option for someone who wants to try a visual novel game, but isn’t sure if he or she will like the genre. It moves at a good pace, has the farming aspect to add variety and keep it from only being about reading and picking choices and is pleasant to look at and listen to. It isn’t too complicated, there aren’t too many paths to wander down and it provides a satisfying game experience that you can probably beat in a few hours. It’s charming, and should please gamers of either gender. It’s definitely a game to keep in mind if you want to play a dating sim on February 14, 2010.
Site [The Flower Shop]