Cartoon Network comes from a long line of silly shows that make up much of our pastime of sitting dead center in front of the TV, and through them we remember how Dee Dee always pulled pranks on Dexter or how the city of Townsville was often saved by three perfectly powerful little girls. The juggernaut children’s network has expanded in terms of their creativity, especially with new shows like Adventure Time reaching a mightily broader audience.
Gaming has also been CN’s strong suit. When the birth of the world wide web was trending in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the company knew that their young viewers wanted to interact with their favorite characters rather than just watch them, so flash games were pretty much their ticket into getting an extra edge over Nickelodeon in terms broadcast ratings and mass appeal. While the recently released “Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know” highlights their expertise in console gaming, their mobile support has proved to be surprisingly more satisfying.
Consider Hibernum Games’ Globlins, for example, a brain busting puzzle game that mirrors the attributes of their television programming. The story, for example, is what you would expect out of a random episode from a cartoon show; tiny, squishy, jello-like aliens have come to earth to take over people’s brains, and it’s up to a bunch of technology-equipped kids to get inside the heads of monkeys, teachers and parents to stop the invasion from spreading. Wait a minute—a ‘brain busting’ puzzle game that features sticky glob aliens taking over grey matter—there’s a joke in there somewhere, right?
Indeed, Cartoon Network pushes Globlins to be true to the company’s comedic flare in addition to the animation, and this fun aspect translates seamlessly in the game. Gameplay is strikingly fun right off the bat as it takes a simple concept of popping these happy-go-lucky alien blobs with a light touch as if they were bubbles and subsequently creating the same demise for enemies by way of leftover alien remains hitting one another. Like crackling firecrackers, the ricocheting remains will spark satisfying chain combos that merit players with extra coins in the game.
With about 60 levels of nonstop alien popping action, the game never starts to feel dull based on the switch up in the always animated environment. Similar to level selection layout in Super Mario 3, players dive into a brightly colored and whimsically clever scenery, reminiscent of the pages you might find in a toddler’s pop-up book. Under the art guise of Marianne Vincent, Globlins stage selection alone is filled details to be appreciated. Glowing eyes leer within the darkness, robots flimsily wave their arms, and the grinning, dancing meat foods are sure to make for a good laugh. Even the enemy looks harmlessly cute. It’s this type of aesthetic that not only speaks to a child’s heart but also speaks to the inner child resting in older audiences.
Let’s not stray too far, though. Globlins is challenging. Small drops of water are needed to wipe the brains clean of all microscopic alien threat, but the catch lies in how many drops the player will be allotted, which varies between different levels. If players carefully utilize their ammo of hydrogen oxide, they will have enough to erase the enemies off the field and to last them through the level. For an added difficulty factor, some globlins start out in their baby forms and need to be touched more than once before they can pop.
Fortunately, the game does teach the player to rely on chain combos—use the least amount of drops to pop the highest amount of globlins as you can. Players will have to take in consideration of the forms that these globlins take before moving clearing house via combos. The more combos you achieve, the more water you will replenish and the more gold coins you will gain.
If players play smart with their combos and are conservative, then coins will come flying through in no time. They can either be used for “gadgets” upgrades and—for a small fee—can change your enemies into allies with a drop of chemicals. When this happens, the monsters will turn into a yet another adorable looking alien; a purple squid-like worm that can shoot off bullets in all kinds of directions when you pop them. When players accumulate a large amount of coins, they’ll be able to purchase helpful gadgets that can, for example, increase the chances of racking up more points or contribute to strengthening your water supply.
Even with various obstacles that may serve to prevent usual combo setups, every level has the potential to be beaten provided that the players carefully plan out their moves. You don’t have to use gadgets and you certainly don’t have to take out 50 coins for an added advantage. Everything can be done with pure strategy, which fortunately means that Globlins does not force players into the ‘pay to win’ scheme. This is great considering that players won’t have to worry or deal with the hassle of buying coins with real money or using them at all to win.
There are some small downsides to the game’s overall execution. Boss battles are about the same all the way through. At the end of each level in the world, players make quick work with their thumbs to pop as many globlins as fast as they can, using their remains to damage a fairly larger, but fairly dull excuse for a boss battle. Despite being bigger and more menacing than your regular enemies, his frequent appearance calls into question of whether or not Hibernum Games could have done better, especially considering this giant blob of an alien doesn’t necessarily match the rest of the brightly animated and heavily detailed Cartoon Network style design that players are sucked into. Like many of the other enemies that change between color pallets, there should have at least some consideration of variety when creating these boss battles.
To make it worse, these bosses will be the least of player’s worries, as he doesn’t put up that much of fight. The only advantage that he could have over the player is his health replenishing if he manages to suck up surrounding globlins that are left over in a round. He isn’t a pushover though. Taking into mind the strategy that comes with popping away these enemies alone, the same method will have to be applied when facing off against the giant globlin, and it’s especially to be done at a faster rate than normal.
Globlins is a downright pretty and intriguing game. While players might plow through enemies due to their lack of variety, the game does tend to get tricky. It’s supposed to be a fairly addictive and challenging puzzle game on the go, and it in that aspect it delivers. If anything, Globlins truly showcases the knack that Cartoon Network has in both believing in creative game developers and helping create a game that would otherwise translated just was well on their television programming. With 60 brain-stumping levels, Globlins is a must-play on the go.
Version Reviewed: iOS