ss04.jpgBonion Games's Garden Tale was my personal favorite of the games I got to play at BitSummit this year. I'll admit that I was doomed to be biased in its favor by the fact that I love isometric tactical RPGs and don't think enough of them exist. However, the game does stand on its own. Although Garden Tale isn't really an innovator, its sound and graphics are lovely and the gameplay is solid.

The game's main character is a gardener living in the Garden Kingdom. At the beginning of the game, his garden gets attacked by people from the neighboring Zoo Kingdom. Fortunately, he raises bonion plants. These look like onions with faces and flowers sticking out of the top and they are what gives Garden Tale's combat its own flavor.

The bonions can be displaced or exploded via certain skills, damaging all units within their blast radius. The facial expressions and flowers sticking out of the bonions are actually indicators of the type and size of the blast radii. Careful positioning can allow the player to create explosion chains that can wipe out enemy (and/or friendly) armies in short order. Once a bonion has been set off, a new bonion starts growing in the place it originally came from, becoming usable after a few turns.

Aside from that, Garden Tale seems to work mostly like other games of its kind. One stand out feature of its combat is that the entire group shares one mana pool. Mana can be restored in multiple ways including a bit automatically refreshed at the beginning of a new turn and bonus mana gained from blowing up bonions.

ss10.jpgGarden Tale is set to release on Windows only. The developers are in talks with a third party about localizing/publishing the game in English, but it's not yet guaranteed. If you can play games in Japanese, I recommend checking out the demo available on the game's web site; it covers the first few battles of the game and will allow save data transfer to the full version of the game.