Genre: Adventure, Simulation
System: Nintendo Switch (also available on Xbox and PC (Epic))
Age Rating: EU 3+| US Everyone
Price: US $26.99 | UK £17.99 | EU € 29,99 (On sale -33% until Sept 7)
Release Date: September 1st, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Popagenda PR.
As you may already know, here at LadiesGamers we are particularly happy when we can play a cute looking simulation game. Give us a combination of leading a virtual life, doing some farming, crafting and loads of quests and we are in gaming heaven. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to review Ooblets. After early access this is the final version coming to our favourite handheld, the Nintendo Switch. Let’s journey to Badgetown and get busy. And if you already have the game, this guide may come in handy!
Help Tinstle Out
After some customisation of your character, you find that your life up till now has been a giant toot (their words, not mine), living on the isolated Ahroh island without any Ooblets. Time to sail to mainland Oob and be greeted by Tinstle, the mayor. A super friendly person, offering you an abandoned farmhouse to live in, as long as you can help with all the mayoral chores. Seeing as you don’t have any Ooblets (which is a big surprise to Tinstle, you are introduced to a couple of Ooblet club Leaders. They let you chose an Ooblet for your own. First though, you have to talk to 8 people in town. Very important, as one of them, Rugnolia will give you your Grumboire. Sort of a diary showing all the Ooblets you meet, the people you befriend and the badges you earn. From there, you are off on your adventure.
Ooblets has several gameplay elements going for it. You collect Ooblets through card based dance battles, where you are rewarded with seeds to grow your own Ooblets. There’s farming and taking care of the farmhouse. You sow other crops as well aside from Ooblets, plus you can set your Ooblets to work. And then there’s crafting, using materials from crops and stuff you forage in recipes and blueprints. Lastly, this all leads to developing the Badgetown through quests. As the title suggests, it all comes down to the Ooblets in the end!
Happy Dance Battles
As soon as you get your own first Ooblet, you learn that they are mysterious creatures that love dancing. And unlike in other monster-collecting games, you don’t fight with your Ooblets: you have dance contests with them. The first challenger you meet is a LumpStump to practice with. Let the party begin!
You take turns in selecting dance moves to perform. There are some basic moves that are always in your deck, and each Ooblet has its own unique moves. If they build enough experience, they can learn new moves as well. Moves cost beats and when they are depleted, your turn ends. Your goal is to reach a number of points, and the random cards you get have different effects. There are some that raise your score, you can have a card that steals points from your opponent. You can have a card that adds beats, which means you can play more cards. And then there are cards with which you can stun your opponent, making them skip a turn. The strength of these cards is depends on Hype and Fluster. Hype increases the overall effect and Fluster decreases the effect, and both Hype and Fluster can be influenced by certain cards. The dance battles are easy to do at first, but with your Ooblets getting stronger, the battles get more difficult too.
There, I’ve written out exactly how the Dance Battles take place, but I haven’t mentioned what stood out to me most. The most fun part of them is the fact that they’ll make you tap your feet along to the music. Seriously, as soon as the dance starts a ring of Ooblets and people form around the battling Ooblets. And everyone is dancing along to the rhythm. With the catchy tunes in the background you’ll have a hard time sitting still yourself. So funny to see, and so hard to not smile when you see it.
Grow Your Own Ooblets
As is customary in sim games that include farming, you get your own dilapidated farm. Lots of work to be done, like clearing the fields of stones, weeds and branches. You start out of course with equipment that only marginally gets the job done, but with blueprints you can make them work better. For example, by updating your Dribbly Can to a Sprinkler.
Sow every Ooblet seed you get. They do the dance battles for you, but they will also help you on the farm. After all, aside from Ooblets you have to sow other crops as well. In Ooblets you don’t sow turnips and carrots though. No, we harvest stuff like Muz, Pompadoot, Carroot and Clothlets. You need all the materials you can get your hands on to fulfil the quests, but more on that later.
To work on your field, you have to go into a different mode by pressing ZL. That can be a bit of a bother, as there are some actions that have you switch back and forth for. For example, to fill your Dribble Can you have to switch back to fill it at the tap outside of the farming field.
The story behind Ooblets is meagre, the game hinges heavily on all manner of quests. This goes further than just helping Tinstle with mayoral tasks, it’s like it’s upon you to make the town into a thriving place. From the first day there are a lot of tasks and wishies. Wishies are small things to do, like scanning a certain Ooblet, talking to a villager or harvesting a certain kind of crops. By completing them, you get wishie points, and they in turn can be used to get materials, blueprints and more.
The tasks are bigger. For example to develop the Wildlands, to renovate your farmhouse, fix Gimble’s balloon, reopen the dance barn and setting up wifi connections. You want to progress in your game, so you are eager to do the tasks. And this kind of gameplay also makes sure there is never a dull moment, new things keep being added.
You’re also encouraged to forage in town, on the beach, in the wildlands. Basically, be on the lookout to find things for free, and try to save it all. This might be a problem, as having enough storage to do so is a challenge at first. Another bottleneck is your own energy. You have an energy bar that depletes quickly. You can top it up by taking little naps during the day, or you can eat your own cooking or some items you find in nature.
It can be hard to keep track of all the materials you need for the tasks and wishies. The names are very unfamiliar at first. When you have them in your pockets or chests it’s also hard to have an overview. As you scroll over the descriptions, these are so big that you don’t see the rest of the items.
Happy and Quirky
Having described the gameplay to you, I want to highlight what makes Ooblets special. The game is cute, colourful and exudes a happy vibe. Some of the texts bring a smile to my face, and others, like the letter below, are so spot on!
Everybody in the game dances, even when your character is talking to them. Hopping from one leg to the other while chatting, though they do stand or sit still when you aren’t interacting with them. Good thing too, can you imagine how exhausting it would be to dance all day long?
The music is catchy, and the visuals are okay. Maybe I would have liked more definition to the characters and background, but that’s just a matter of preference. If you don’t put your Ooblets to work on the farm, they follow behind you in a line. A merry procession!
Ooblets is fun to play. The sim elements of dance battles, farming, crafting and questing are combined in a nice way. I love games with lots of questing and tasks, and it didn’t bother me that the story is thin. It kept my interest due to the things added along the way. I have some minor niggles: the info text in the inventory is annoyingly over the rest of the items in stock. Switching back and forth to the farm field view doesn’t feel very effective.
Still, this is a game I can easily sink in many hours of gameplay. The fact that it’s cute and colourful, and has an uplifting beat will make sure that I won’t even regret the hours spent with my Ooblets.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot