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Molehill Empire (Browser)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Description

William Willowbough, a well-respected and experienced garden gnome, bought himself a brand-new computer with fast internet access, and while surfing the net stumbled upon an amazing online economy simulation that ate much of his time from this point forward. Every gamer knows this situation, but William additionally scored another "problem" that made things even worse: In the user forums of his beloved game he met a wonderful female gnome with whom he wants to spend some time as well. The result of all this is his own little garden oasis rotting away and becoming infested by moles, weeds and tree stumps. One sunny day the player passes by William's garden door, sending an immediate thought through the gnome's brain: Now there's a person I could entrust my little oasis to. And guess what, the player accepts.

Molehill Empire is a massively multi-player online gardening simulation. The player starts out with a tile-based garden of 17x12 size that is severely under-developed, with weeds, rocks and tree stumps blocking much of the available space. Some tiles, however, are still ready for cultivating plants and can be used to grow lettuce and carrots, the first two plants available to newbies with three units each. Growing plants is done in three steps: Planting a unit, watering and harvesting it. Just like in real life, every crop needs a certain space to be planted, and a certain amount of time to grow and ripen. In this game, however, the growing time can be reduced by watering the plants. The harvest differs from plant to plant: While carrots will exemplary return two units for every single cultivated unit, radishes will return three, cucumbers four. Generally, plants taking more time to ripen will yield higher rewards at harvest.

Soon enough newbies will be generating a nice vegetable surplus that can be sold to other players or to virtual costumers randomly visiting the garden. This hard-earned money should primarily be spent for getting rid of the obstacles blocking the garden, and for acquiring seeds of newly accessible plants. For this kind of shopping the player must fire up his old bicycle and visit the first of the nearby cities, a place that offers other possibilities, too. The town hall holds extensive statistics on how well the players are doing, the gardener's society offers entry to the guild house and contests like growing the highest amount of a certain plant in a given time, the market place does exactly what you would guess it does, and the hardware shop provides everything needed to turn the player's acre into a real presentable garden (with many decoration points) that will get high ratings in the user's forum and raise the number of virtual customers allowed per day.

Successful harvests will grant the player experience points and, thus, level-ups that will give access to additional and increasingly fancier plants, and also to additional game options. Exemplary, level five will allow buying a car, level six grants access to the guild house, or level eight players can even buy a whole new garden. There's even quests from level five up, usually of the deliver-x-plants type, that will earn the player money and/or experience, or even a whole new garden.

High-level players will have access to a wide variety of different plants, gardens, and decoration later on, furthermore they can conduct research like shortening the ripening time of plants. Only guild members can work on achieving the ultimate goal of Molehill Empire, though, which is building a legendary palm garden, a task consuming so much time and money that no guild has managed to achieve it as of the time of this writing.

Screenshots

Molehill Empire Browser After producing lettuce like an army of snails would, I hurry to town to complete the quest.
Molehill Empire Browser At level three you are granted a notepad where you can record strange messages for future use.
Molehill Empire Browser I harvested my first six lettuces and carrots (the beginner's plants), and scored my first six experience points for it. With some lemon juice and sugar, this would make a nice salad already.
Molehill Empire Browser The Gardener's Society: the guild house will open upon reching level six.

Alternate Titles

  • "Садовая Империя" -- Russian spelling
  • "Зелена Империя" -- Bulgarian spelling
  • "Zielone Imperium" -- Polish title
  • "Wurzelimperium" -- German title
  • "Bahçıvanlar Diyarı" -- Turkish title

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MZ per X (2940) added Molehill Empire (Browser) on Dec 09, 2009