Bottom line: Grow your own virtual veggies without the dirt under your fingernails. Another winner from Dr. Panda, this endless loop of gardening mini-games will keep your small ones occupied for ages. Plus they won't track their muddy boots across your clean kitchen floor.
If you would like to purchase Dr. Panda's Veggie Garden ($.99 iPad/iPhone regularly $1.99) and support the farm to table movement, use Smart Apps for Kids' handy links:
Furry visitors arrive at the farm on a variety of vehicles and request a certain crop. It's then time for your little farmer to pop out the back and grow it for them. Once the sequence of minigames has been completed, the crop is ready and is delivered to the visitor who has waited patiently at the farm gate for all that time. Luckily it's not true to life growing time or they'd be pretty hungry by the time their veggies arrived.
Now, although this is called Dr Panda's Veggie Garden, there is a good array of both vegetables AND fruit to be grown - corn, raspberries, tomatoes, strawberries, bananas, wheat, oranges, potatoes, carrots, apples, blueberries, coconuts - the list goes on, I'm sure there are some I've forgotten. The form of the game is endlessly linear so there's no chance that a young player will get confused - there's nowhere to get lost. Each crop turns up randomly.
There's a certain amount of realism in the game and every fruit/veg has a particular sequence of events that need to be completed before the crop can be harvested. For example, growing apples requires digging out the hole, planting the apple tree seedling, filling the hole, watering it in (here's where some nifty 'time lapse' goes on - the tree quickly grows leaves and small green fruit while being watered). Next the tree is fertilised and lo and behold, the apples have ripened! Pick the apples and drop them in the basket (luckily virtual apples don't get too bruised when you're not overly gentle about dropping them in). The more delicate fruits such as the tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries are grown in the greenhouse and need to be protected from some creepy crawlies such as snails and spiders, although why the evil-looking snails get to be humanely disposed of into a glass jar while the cute bow-wearing pastel spiders (who aren't going to do any harm to the plants at all) have a nasty 'pop' ending, I don't know.
The graphics are the cutie patootie ones that we are used to seeing in Dr. Panda games and the controls and interface are very user-friendly. There should be no cries of 'Mummy, what do I do neeeeeexxxxt?'. This is a well thought through game which is guaranteed to be a winner with your child, but there are a couple of things that I'd like to see done differently: When raking and mowing, the minigame is completed before the task is properly done. I would prefer to see more care needing to be taken and each task being entirely completed before moving on.
I was also faintly horrified when the fruit/veg that misses the basket when being harvested disappeared with a 'splat'. I hate to waste food - I really really wanted an opportunity to collect those that I'd missed! I'd also like to see an option of picking particular crops once they've all been experienced once. The random crop generator can be rather frustrating when the same one appears too many times. Especially as my daughter is rather partial to raspberries and becomes quite pouty when she has to farm wheat for the umpteenth time instead.
Under the 'For Parents' tab there is the option to turn off the promotional icon (which links externally to other Dr Panda games). There are still external links within this tab but I think because this is a game that doesn't actually ever use the home screen except on start up, this will be okay for most parents.
Living in a leafy suburb in Australia means that trying to grown your own fruit and vegetables can be a challenge as they are nibbled on and uprooted by everything from possums to scrub turkeys. It was therefore very satisfying playing ‘whack-a-mole’ in the carrot-growing minigames and I imagined that they were scrub turkeys with every vengeful tap-whack. The carrot seedlings looked suspiciously like beansprouts, but they do grow up into the correct vegetable when watered so that was a relief. And they also make a really satisfying ‘pop’ when they are pulled from the ground.
Although it's no substitute for actually getting out there with your kids and growing your own veggie garden, it certainly creates less dirt tracked through the house. This is a good game to hand to your child in the frenetic rush to prepare dinner - you can chop the vegetables while your child grows 'em.Recommended.
Eleanor Holland has a scrub turkey going cheap. Oh, and several possums too. Disclaimer: The scrub turkey starts scratching up your garden mulch from around 3am. But that's okay as you won't have slept at all due to the possums dancing on your roof all night. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.