Hello! Welcome back to the Mobile Games Revue, where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter. Last week, we covered the tangled web of Daddy Long Legs. This week, it’s time to veg out with Giant Turnip (available on Android and iOS). This game is a little different from some of the other games that we’ve covered: namely, that it’s basically a licensed game. Usagi and Pisuke are sort of like Hello Kitty in that they are an icon first rather than coming from a show or game and then becoming a mascot. So rather than having an indie developer, the creator of the game is United, INC, who are a software development company without an individual website. However, the IP is actually the brainchild of Kanahei.
The premise of Giant Turnip is about as wacky as you’d expect. Usagi, enamored with a mobile farming game, decides to plant her own garden. Through some interesting hijinx, she ends up caught in an alien tractor beam, which flies her all across the world. In her boredom, she empties her seed packets everywhere she goes. The world panics as giant vegetables begin sprouting up everywhere. Then, it’s up to Usagi and Pisuke to rid the world of the veggie menace (and sell their giant produce as they go). Thankfully, they’ll have help: on her journey, Usagi made a ton of friends to help her in her quest (so maybe the real giant turnip was the friends we made along the way).
The gameplay is simple: tap the screen to have Usagi and Pisuke pull the vegetable out of the ground by whittling down the vegetable’s HP bar. Boss veggies occur along the way, and at the end of each level, a Mega Boss veggie (both of which have an additional timer mechanic not found in the regular vegetables). All of these increase in difficulty as you progress to subsequent levels. In order to keep up, you have three options. The first is to use unlockable “burst” abilities, which do different things (like halve the veggie’s HP bar, or power up Usagi and Pisuke’s “damage”). The second is to unlock new friends to help you in your tug-of-war. The final, perhaps simplest (and definitely most important), is leveling up Usagi and Pisuke. I neglected that final one by mistake, and found myself struggling to uproot even the wussiest of veggies.
All of these things are unlocked via the game’s main currency, acorns. Acorns are obtained each time you harvest a vegetable, and can also be obtained via gifts from a flying-cat-witch-thing. You can boost your acorn production in several ways. There is an ability (the hilariously titled “Bubble Economy”) that generates acorns with every tap. The second method is my favourite feature of the game: you earn acorns even when the app is closed. The player controls Usagi and Pisuke, but your friends keep on truckin’ regardless of active input. So if you can’t play, but you were really looking forward to that next upgrade: don’t worry! You’ll still progress even while you’re working or at school (or, let’s be honest, playing other video games). In this sense, it reminds me a little of Cookie Clicker (time-suck warning: don’t go to that website if you’re not willing to be distracted).
The more friends you have, the higher your passive acorn generation will be (just like real life?). The more acorns you get, the more friends you can unlock (also just like real life)! It’s a delicious cycle. Friends have their own levels, and each of them has a (sometimes) heartwarming little flavor text about them.
There are a few drawbacks to the game. The first one I noticed was that every tap counts as an “attack” against the vegetable. This includes tapping to pick up acorns – this makes early levels breeze by so quickly that it’s difficult to stay orientated. Often times, I’d end up running into a boss before I was really ready. As the veggies have gotten harder to pick, and now that I know what I’m doing, this is actually a plus for me – but to begin with, I found it frustrating.
The most glaring issue is the ads. Which is not to say they’re invasive – in fact, I barely noticed them at all. Roughly once per play session, upon exiting a menu, it would show me a full-screen ad (usually image, or skippable video), and honestly I have barely noticed the onscreen ads at the bottom (they’re much more noticeable in the screenshots). The exception is when I go to close the game: my “home screen” button is right where the ads are – which has led to one or two accidental clicks. What bothers me is that there is no option to pay to turn them off. I would happily pay $2-3 for an ad-free version, but there simply isn’t one on offer. This isn’t game breaking for me, but it is an annoyance.
There are microtransactions in the game: you can buy golden seeds, which are pretty pricey. They’re 10 for $1, and go all the way up to 280 for $17. While the prices aren’t great, there also isn’t a huge need for the currency. I haven’t beaten the game, but so far the only use for a golden seed is to allow you to resume a boss fight if the timer runs out on you. My guess is that this becomes more useful in the very high levels – and is mostly a convenience for the more hardcore tuber-pickers.
Overall, Giant Turnip is a well-rounded game, with a simple-but-fun gameplay concept, surprisingly well-thought-out (albeit bizarre) story, and charming graphics. I’d say that, in general, it’s pretty rad-ish. See what I did there?