Sprout is a creative and original adventure puzzle game created by Jeff Nusz, of New Zealand, for our second Casual Gameplay Design Competition. From the moment you lay eyes on it you know it's something special. The unique artwork for a Flash game has a paper-cut appearance that lends a storybook atmosphere to the game. This environment perfectly suits the role you play as a young seedling trying to find its way home. Sprout has everything we love to see in a Flash game: originality, a simple design, and a beautiful presentation.
Sprout begins with a small green seed-pod stranded on a tiny island. This seedling has the peculiar ability to learn to grow into different plants. For example, stuck on the island with no way to cross the water, the palm trees teach you how to grow into a coconut. With a click of the mouse you transform, and then just sit back and watch the story unfold.
Different situations calls for different transformations, and you cannot always be sure what effect growing into one form can have. Becoming a coconut might help you move forward. It could also cause you to roll back to where you began. This sense of innocent exploration is one of the most charming aspects of Sprout. Making mistakes and testing the environment are integral parts of the experience.
Analysis: When I first saw Sprout I knew I was in for a treat. During the word-less introduction I could almost hear the seedling asking the palm trees where to find its home. As many game designers have pointed out, the main ingredient in a successful game is human emotion. If you can tap that your players are hooked. Sprout nets your emotions from the very beginning and never lets go. You want this young seed-pod to succeed and you'll do anything you can to make that happen. You internalize the story and bring the seedling to life; Sprout simply lets you play out the story you're already invested in. That gives the game a very magical feeling, and Jeff chose the perfect art style and setting to bring it alive.
Congratulations, Jeff, on an excellent entry into our competition. Sprout shows a lot of thought and creativity on your part and deserves all the praise we can possibly give it!
Sprout was a welcome surprise from start to finish. Beautiful artwork is well complemented by a detailed soundtrack to create lush environments for your little sprout's journey. The gameplay itself is like nothing I've ever played before, and the puzzles are tricky without being frustrating. You have a very few simple options to choose from at any given point in the game, yet the solution to each puzzle sometimes vexed me through several attempts. A well-deserved win!
This one was really neat! I especially like games where you have to select the right tool for each job, and I feel Sprout does this in a superb way. The art is fantastic—charming and cute—and the noises complemented them well. I love how the ambient sounds fade from one to the next as you scroll along the landscape. This is also probably the most kid-friendly game of the contest. Not too challenging, but it's clearly not the type of game that would benefit from overly difficult puzzles. My only complaint is that it ended!
I, too, was delighted from the moment the game first loaded. How could one not be? The quaint colored pencil drawings and cinematic intro evoke feelings of being transported to a far away island. The transition to widescreen at the conclusion of the intro is an excellent touch that effectively pulls you right into the story, surrounding you in its magic. But my particular delight went deeper than the superficial; for when I was first presented with the choice between two options—the coconut and the dandelion—visions of Grow ver.1 danced through my head. But Sprout is not a Grow clone; Jeff has created a unique experience all his own. The game perfectly embodies the theme of this competition on multiple levels, and for that it is quite deserving of the highest award. It has been a pleasure and an honor having Sprout part of this competition. Well done, Jeff!