Have you ever wanted your very own garden to tend to? Are you very much in love with Japanese culture? Are you a fan of any of deck building adventure games? Well then, have I found the right game for you! Enter Shikihime Garden, a card and simulator game played entirely inside your browser. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce the name, there will be plenty more waiting for you inside the game. When I first heard about this game, I must admit, I am usually not interested in these types of games at all. But once I started playing Shikihime Garden, I got hooked on it pretty quick. It’s easy to lose track of time while playing this game, that is, if you know how to progress at least. Needless to say, let me inform you a little bit more about what mysteries await you in Shikihime Garden.
This is my garden. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
When you first enter the game, you receive a quick tutorial of what is going on and what you have to do, and a small piece of story in the form of a poem. There is not much to say about it really. You are tasked with tending to the garden, which at first, is completely empty. It is up to you to fill it with all sorts of ornaments, and of course, Shikihime’s! Shikihime literally means, Four Seasons Princess, and these femme fatales are collected via cards you win in battle or by opening Summons (boosterpacks). Like I said, there was nothing much going on in the story section. Once you have your starting deck set up, you enter the map section, and pick a location where you want to try out your deck. Sometimes the Shikihime’s banter with each other once they spend a certain amount of time in your garden, or after you have completed certain quests.
As for the art style of the game, everything is extremely Japanese influenced, from the ornaments you can place in your garden, the Shikihime’s you collect and the monsters you fight. Since it’s a Japanese port, there are some minor flaws in grammar and spelling, so if you are a person that can not handle these types of errors (read; Engrish), then I don’t think this is a game for you.
Sandals and cloths and rats, oh my!
Let’s get on with the combat, how the hell does it work? Well, combat in Shikihime Garden is fairly simple. In combat, all you can do is hit the “fight” button and your Shikihime’s (or monster cards if you prefer those) attack your opponent at complete random. You can also switch out one or more of your 5 cards for one of your other 5 cards during combat, for if they are low on HP, or if you are up against card types that would wreck your card types.
There are three types of cards: Red, blue and green. This card system works like the tried and true rock, paper, scissors concept. Red beats green, green beats blue and blue beats red. So in my opinion, the actual combat isn’t as important as the thought you put into what your deck looks like before starting it. This means, putting the right cards in the right order before you even enter a battle.
In Shikihime Garden, the cards you collect can level up, be given items, and may differ in rarity and stats. Like I said earlier, you can have a maximum of 10 cards in your deck at any given time. But the amount of cards you can collect is infinite. So, once you have a few of your favorite cards set out for yourself, you can choose to level these cards up by combining the exp from other cards you have collected that you don’t use. Be careful though which cards you choose to destroy by combining them, I combined one of my stronger cards into a weaker card, resulting in me losing one of my rarer and more stronger card forever. Stat boosting items you collect from rewards, or buy at the shop, can all be used to improve your existing cards as well, making you feel like you are progressing significantly when you boost your cards to max level, and defeat that annoying boss you were first unable to take down. (I’m talking to you, catfish monster!)
But, there is a flaw in the combat system as it is now. Aside from the combat being rather simple, that’s not even its weakest point. What the combat looks like now, it feels like they could have done so much more to improve the visual aspect of this feature. For instance, the Shikihimes that walk around in your garden, all have their own sprites and animations. Why is it that once you go into battle, they are only cards and not fully featured warrior princesses with combat animations and everything? If I could improve one thing in the game, it would definitely be this.
Check out my garden, and I’ll check out yours!
The other features presented in Shikihime Garden, might surprise you. There is a lot to do once you get the ball rolling, especially once you lose yourself in all the quests you can complete. The quests in turn introduce you to all the other features in the game, one by one. For instance, one quest forces you to join a guild. If you don’t complete it you aren’t even able to progress any further in the game.
Yes you can actually join a guild in this game! And it is a rather social game too. You can visit other peoples gardens, you can battle other people with your deck and there are daily events to attend too. Also, your garden is more important than you think. This special place can heal your Shikihime’s back up to full health with the power of rice balls made by your rice ball vendor! You can put all sorts of stuff in your garden that will end up buffing your Shikihime, so it’s vital to know that the whole Gardening simulation feature isn’t just a cosmetic one.
There is certainly lots to be seen in Shikihime Garden. It is however, not your conventional card game, especially when you compare to other big hitters like Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering. But, what makes the game so great, is that it combines a bit of both worlds. Deck building feels like you’re playing a Pokémon game, and the whole social and Gardening features, feels like you’re part of an MMO. In terms of content, there is definitely a lot to explore here, with all the different cards you can collect. This game however, isn’t for you if you dislike the girly Japanese influenced art style. Another thing that also bothered me, were tacky combat visuals, and an oversimplified combat system overall. But other than that, Shikihime Garden isn’t all that bad!
- Great Japanese art style.
- Cool social features
- Customizing Garden and building decks is genuinely fun
- Flaws in English spelling & grammar
- Tacky combat visuals
- Oversimplified combat