E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was one of my favorite films growing up as a kid. I remember seeing the movie when it first came out in theaters (showing my age here), and I was always curious as to what happened after E.T. left our planet. Now I can live out the sequel with Chillingo's new game. But is it a worthy new chapter in the world of E.T.? Or should we have left well enough alone and not bothered to visit his homeworld?

E.T.: The Green Planet takes place on E.T.'s homeworld. E.T. must use his healing powers to grow the planet's garden and keep his world from dying. In the process, he'll collect unique items that will help him build a device to contact his friend Elliot back on Earth.

The Green Planet is a simple farming game. As soon as you start, E.T.'s teacher, Botanicus, will more or less throw you to the proverbial wolves in regards to maintaining your garden. All of the information is given to you at once, with no option to go back and repeat it. But once you've spent some time with the game's rather unorthodox interface, it's not too bad.

E.T.'s world is filled with lush greenery and wonderful plant life. You start off by building soil beds, so you can plant seeds. Seeds then need to be tended to by the Micro Tech workers walking around the garden. Once your plant has grown, you can then build a mineral bed, where the plant will start to produce Nutrients, which you use as currency to buy different kinds of plants and structures.

E.T.'s Healing Touch also comes into play and acts as another form of currency. Use Healing Touches to "speed up" any of the processes in the game. If you don't speed anything up, then you're just going to have to wait until the planting, tending, building, etc. is completed. Which can take minutes or hours depending on the task and how far you are in the game.

Quests will give you some direction as to what you're supposed to be doing next. Everything from building a Launching Pad for space exploration to other planets, to cross breeding plants to discover new species. There's always something new to do, and it's a good way to keep the game moving forward. Experience points let you level up. When you level up, you gain access to new items and plants that you can grow. That's if you have enough Nutrients and Healing Touches to do so.

And that's where trouble in E.T.'s paradise comes in. The game may be free, but I'm not exactly sure how anyone can really go far in the game unless you in-app purchase more Nutrients and Healing Touches. I always try to see if I can complete a game without having to do so, And you probably can without having to, but it would take weeks if you decided not to. I had to purchase Nutrients and Healing Touches just so I could advance further in the game. And I'm already out and needing more.

Everything takes time in The Green Planet, so if you want to speed up the process of say, going to another planet, it will cost you. Now, there is an alternative to opening your wallet. There's a Social button that you can press, which allows you to visit other gamers' gardens. Here you can see what they've built, and the kind of plants they may have discovered. But the most important thing you can do is plant different plants in their garden. You can also ripen a Mud Fountain tree if they have one. Doing this in each garden you visit earns you lots of experience points and Nutrients. So if you're patient enough, you can really build up your stats fast if you spend enough time on it. Getting more Healing Touches? That's a bit tougher to do because you don't earn as many as you spend. I do notice an occasional music glitch when I visit other gardens and the only way to fix it is by killing the app and rebooting it.

This guy is either rich or has too much time on his hands.

I love the look of the game. Everything is bright and vibrant. The sound effects and E.T.'s random cries for Elliott are a nice touch. Trying to complete E.T.'s contraption to phone Elliott is what keeps me going. This is a game can suck both time and money from you. I'm addicted to E.T., despite the constant need for me to open my wallet just so I can advance further quicker, without having to farm or put my iPad down for eight hours as I wait for a task to complete.

You'll get out of E.T.: The Green Planet, what you put into it. I think it's a great game that I let run in the background, and then pick up at various times of the day. Some might get frustrated if they run out of Healing Touches and Nutrients but you can build them back up if you're patient enough. I want to finish the game, just to hear the phone call between Elliott and E.T. Nerdy, yes. But the game brings out the kid in me, and that's what gaming is all about. Ok, that and killing fools online, but you won't find that on E.T.'s planet. Hopefully in the sequel.


App Store Link: E.T.: The Green Planet for iPhoneiPad | By Chillingo | Price: Free | Version: 1.0 | 66.4 MB | Rating 4+

7.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating