Ah, the passing of seasons. The falling of leaves. The coming of the frost. The thawing of the snow. There’s no easier way to sound philosophical and ‘deep’ than by spouting off a load of old nonsense about the seasons. Sure, it’s normally people who are neither philosophical nor deep that generally do this, but shoehorning the seasons into a game is at least an interesting concept.
Potpourrii uses them in two key ways. Firstly, the game’s levels are laid out like them. You start off in the spring of year one, then move through to summer, autumn and winter. More important is the way the seasons are applied to the actual gameplay.
You have to shoot little coloured creatures into a circular pond. There are four different types of creature in Potpourrii, each of which represents a different season. The first one you shoot into the pond will stop in the middle, while subsequent ones stick onto the creatures already there.
Attach a creature to one that represents the previous season and that one will disappear, winning you some points. Your creature cannon is mounted on a railroad track – bear with me hear, it’s not as odd as it sounds – that circles the pond, and you control its motion with a thumb-operated wheel that sits at the bottom left of the screen.
You’re not trying to get rid of all the Potpourrii creatures, just to score enough points to move onto the next season. In fact, you’re generally better off working up a batch of identical creatures so that when you do eventually bash them with one that’ll cause them to disappear, you’ll get a healthy combo bonus.
This combo incentive and the basic controls of the game work like a dream. Your finger adapts very quickly to spinning the wheel, so much so that the touchscreen doesn’t really feel like a poor stand-in for a more tangible control method.
Unfortunately, the seasonal structure doesn’t do Potpourrii many favours. Although not a game that’s particularly well suited to very snappy play sessions, your progress isn’t saved once you’ve lost all your lives- apart from a presence on the high scores list.
The difficulty undulates slowly upwards, but once you’ve passed through Potpourrii’s first few game years a few times, your motivation to start from the beginning once more will ebb away- like the falling autumn leaves, to get all deep and philosophical for a minute.
There is a hard mode to try out when you’ve earned your Potpourrii stripes, but since this is available from the start, you still don’t feel like you’ve earned much from your efforts. This sense of disappointment could have been freshened up with an online score board, but it’d still be asking you to play for too long to be in with a chance of topping your top scores.
It’s not that Potpourrii isn’t fun to play. The basic game dynamics work remarkably well. It’s just that it over-stretches and ends up exhausting itself and you.
Website/Demo: Chillingo’s website