“Pikmin Bloom” was announced on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2021 and quickly rolled out worldwide. The new augmented reality (AR) mobile game was developed by Niantic, the same company behind “Pokémon Go,” and offers light and casual fun through the lens of a gamified fitness tracker.

Comparisons between Niantic’s other Nintendo game and “Pikmin Bloom” are inevitable but aren't entirely apt. “Pikmin Bloom” borrows a lot of basic elements from “Pokémon Go,” but the full package offers a somewhat different experience.

A Budding World

The main goal of “Pikmin Bloom” is to get you walking through the use of cute little creatures called Pikmin. The Pikmin look a bit like living flowers and virtually follow you throughout your day, cheering you on as you reach milestones, such as walking goals, and unlock rewards.

The “Pikmin Bloom” map is similar to the real world but with additional elements layered on top. The game’s global flower garden is one of its most exciting features.

As you walk, you’re given the opportunity to plant flowers in your wake. These flowers hasten your Pikmin’s growth and provide a wonderful visual experience, as you’re able to see every other player's contributions to the world around them. This leads to well-trodden places, such as RIT’s campus, being covered in virtual greenery!

Along with tracking your steps, the game also nudges the idea of general wellness by including lifelogging options and a mood tracker. “Pikmin Bloom” puts a positive spin on exercise and exploration that helps the game to feel rewarding in a real-world sense. All together, it creates an experience that’s both fun and surprisingly fulfilling.

The Downfalls of a Sudden Launch

The game isn't all sunshine though. At the time of writing, “Pikmin Bloom” has a limited number of features available. For the most part, it does feel like a stripped-down version of “Pokémon Go.”

The narrowed-in focus on walking makes it unique but the raids, player-to-player interactivity and AR places of interest feel ripped from Niantic’s previous collaboration rather than cleverly inserted. Some more new elements would definitely help “Pikmin Bloom” stand out.

On the technical side of things, the game’s UI also leaves much to be desired. It lacks flair and the level of polish one would expect from a big-budget mobile game. On quite a few occasions, I would even find myself lost in its multi-level menus.

The game’s onboarding isn’t great either. New players should expect to be confused on more than one occasion. I would often be introduced to a new feature and immediately lose track of it, and I would frequently have to ask a higher-level friend for help. The game’s lack of a designated and clearly-located instruction guide ends up feeling rather disappointing.

Get Out and Explore

If there’s one thing I can’t wrap my head around, it’s the game's late-October release date. With winter rapidly approaching in North America, players only have a limited window to fully test out “Pikmin Bloom” before the cold and snow make walking outside rather difficult.

That being said, the game’s first Community Day, scheduled for Nov. 13, 2021, still added new rewards and experiences despite the chill. So if I’ve piqued your interest, don't worry about the weather and just get out there and explore! Your Pikmin will thank you!