Ooblets teaches us that if a dance-off ended with the loser dropping their pants and doing their business on the floor, the world would be a funnier (if less hygienic) place.
Okay, maybe that’s not the game’s only lesson: there’s also some nonsense about being a responsible citizen in there, too. But having spent the past few days watching Ooblets fart out seeds, it’s an image I’ve been unable to get out of my head. At least it’s a step up from Pokémon’s animal-on-animal fighting; along with Animal Crossing, GameFreak’s pet enslavement influence is all over Ooblets.
But there’s more to Ooblets than just teeny-tiny dance contests. Currently in Early Access, the title has you fixing up your own farm and doing jobs for a mayor who’s so massively incapable they should have worked their way up to President by now. The titular Ooblets are teeny tiny creatures, smaller than your average spaniel, who hang around the town you’ve recently made your home – and they’re ludicrously cute. Even better, by planting their aforementioned seeds, you can raise your own little troupe who will obligingly follow you around.
Many of the tasks Mayor Useless gives you require you to beat other Ooblets in turn-based, card game-style dance-offs; so the more Ooblets you have, the better. The rewards you get from completing these tasks and other jobs the townsfolk give you let you unlock skills and items that will help you improve your own farm. Bored of watering your plants bit by bit? Help enough folks out, and a super-soaker can be yours! Resource gathering is also a big deal in Ooblets, so expect to spend some time simply picking stuff up. Gladly, items are scattered about generously enough that you won’t have to go to the ends of the Earth just to get the ingredients for a beef stew.
My impressions of Ooblets so far have been mostly positive. The town and its inhabitants are absolutely adorable and I fell in love with the art-style right away; although I couldn’t shake the feeling my town was about to be obliterated by a massive Katamari. It’s not all that remarkable at first, but the more you get into it the more it grows on you. There’s a healthy dose of cynicism injected into the dialogue; you’ll stumble across NPCs who clearly don’t give two hoots, which is oddly refreshing compared to Animal Crossings’ cheery optimism.
That said, the dance-offs were a tad underwhelming. There’s not anything wrong with them per se, but the camera’s so zoomed out you can barely see the Ooblets dance. When I gave my Ooblet team a command, I wanted to see them filling the screen, dancing around in a get-up like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. As is, you can barely tell whether they’re strutting their stuff or scratching their backsides.
Still, it’s early days for Ooblets and this is an appealing start for the game. If developer Glumberland can build on its accomplishments, we could be in for a real treat.