I thought I would be a good fit to dig into Garden Simulator on the Nintendo Switch. After all, if I can handle large farms, managing a smaller green space should be a breeze. While the scope may be modest, the familiar elements of planting and harvesting indicate this is still a niche title. Fortunately, it’s a pretty good one, and its down-to-earth approach might make it more accessible to simulation newbies.

You start off with a simple shovel, a tiny patch of yard, and a dream. As you aim to unlock everything (the title’s driving force), you’ll familiarize yourself with even more basics, like additional tools and simple seeds. But you’ll always see what you need for your next unlock and eventually start earning them. As your garden fills with flowers and vegetables (some recurring), it’ll expand from a backyard patch to surrounding your entire house. Way to boost property values.

Your house serves as little more than a means to end your day, walking through the back at 6:00 pm. You can take boards off the windows and remove ivy growing up the sides. You may see some quirks, like random patches of dirt that are impossible to clean or weeds sprouting underneath the foundation. Oh well; it’s not a house simulator, it’s Garden Simulator.

There are lots of decorating options that open as you complete various tasks. Hedges and paths make sense, but there’s an odd emphasis on garden gnomes. Do people really enjoy these life-sized critters? If so, that’s an option to shop for.

Purchases are made via the laptop sitting in your gazebo. It initially cracked me up to see large crates drop out of the sky. One tip is investing in a sprinkler system as early as possible to alleviate the tedium of watering your plants manually. The robot mower is also a time saver. Both of these add to the game visually, too, by reducing the number of icons and saving you the eyesore of crooked mow lines.

After the initial tasks give you a feel for things, you’re left to your own devices, gardening as you like. This choice gives you freedom, allowing you to focus on which skills you’d like to improve: composting, harvesting speed, etc. It can be relaxing not being told what to do. Heck, if you want to spend your time simply petting your virtual cat, you can do so.

Of course, it bears repeating that you’ll want to unlock your entire yard, and it can seem odd that sections are blocked off initially. While not unheard of in games like this, those spoiled by later revisions of Animal Crossing might be shocked that things aren’t handed out quicker. Even with efforts to cut it back, there’s still some tedium present.

Some of my gripes are admittedly nitpicky. For instance, while I’m bummed that the backyard BBQ doesn’t have some associated grilling minigame, that’s more my own thing. Lack of music, again, is a personal preference (you can adjust the volume of the sound, and ambient effects contribute to the relaxing atmosphere). Some plants fading in graphically? This minor technical issue is no biggie for a game that looks and runs generally fine. And with three save files, multiple people can try to build a garden.

The one gripe that isn’t nitpicky is the lack of touchscreen support in handheld mode. When will devs learn? Of course, with smaller text, you might want to play on a large TV anyway. You can adjust control sensitivity, which is a nice touch, and the controls, in general, are easy for this style of game.

Oh, and there is no “fall” harvest to show off autumn foliage and later-season crops. How am I expected to, as we say at Pure Nintendo, “finish the radish” in the sweltering summer heat? It didn’t stop my wife, though, who invested 20 hours before experiencing a loss of engagement.

A lower learning curve gives Garden Simulator accessibility the genre isn’t known for. The lack of touchscreen support is a negative worth noting, but the overall title (quirks and all) evens out as something worth digging a little deeper into. It might not have specific standout features, but its ideas are implemented in a positive manner so as to leave a good impression.