Review: ibb and obb (PS3)

ibb-and-obb-review-banner

Title: ibb and obb
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.0 GB)
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Sparpweed
Developer: Sparpweed
Price: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E
ibb and obb is also available on PC.
The PlayStation Network version was used for this review.

Couch co-op is a phenomenon that has slowly died off this generation. Though few titles have managed to sustain and fulfill this itch that resides in many gamers, few have truly required precise cooperation and communication. Most games, other than Valve’s excellent Portal 2, cooperative modes have devolved into shooting galleries that release wave after wave of foe, challenging you and your mates to survive as long as possible. ibb and obb, one of the PlayStation Network’s next downloadable darlings, aims to change this mindset. This charming little game is one of the best local co-op experiences available on the PlayStation Network. It’s just a shame that the level design and core mechanics fall apart in single player mode.

Gameplay:
ibb and obb plays very much like other platformers. Movement is handled by the D-pad or analog stick, and jumping is handled by the X button. Your goal is to travel through every stage, while collecting as many gems as possible. ibb and obb’s largest design innovation lies in its gravity mechanics. At any given time, a dark line horizontally separates the screen into an upper and lower region. This line is the center of gravity, and characters on either end of the screen are drawn to it like a magnet. Using holes in this line, players are able to travel between the two sides to solve gravity based puzzles and defeat enemies.

This simple mechanic starts out slow and escalates into some truly mind-bending puzzles. There were times where puzzle solutions were almost obvious, and others where solutions could only be figured out after about 5-10 minutes of trial and error. No other platformer, except for the aforementioned Portal 2, has caused as many head scratching and “just one more try” moments. Even for someone who considers themselves a platforming expert, ibb and obb’s puzzles will present a challenge worth its paltry asking price of $9.99.

ibb and obb - 15

ibb and obb is centrally designed with co-op in mind, but it’s a shame that most of the mechanics and difficulty become utter nightmares in single player. Rather than controlling one creature and having the other follow you with intelligent AI, the developers have shoehorned this strange two analog stick control scheme. Each analog stick controls a different character, while pushing up or down on each analog stick will make it’s respective character jump. This control choice comes across as a minor inconvenience in the earlier levels, but later stages escalate this design decision to a full blown disaster. I dare say that for the average gamer, this control scheme will render the game unplayable in the later levels, but for those dedicated, it can be mastered.

Visuals:
ibb and obb’s visual design truly stands out among other games in the genre and on the PlayStation Network. Neon colors and gradient textures cover almost everything in the game, and the simple character design allows the players to project their own emotions, feelings, and desires into these little gum drop shaped adventurers. Without eyebrows, nose, or mouth, ibb and obb become mirror images of yourself, and must rely on simple jumps and intricate hint drawing to get a point across. The frame rate is rock solid, though occasional lag in online multiplayer may cause it to dip in rare instances. Nothing here pushes the PS3’s hardware to its limits, but it’s a style worth remembering.

Audio:
The audio is nothing short of whimsical. The music perfectly accentuates the dreamy visual style, while subtle pops, bounces, and other sound effects add to the overall atmosphere. None of these songs will be stuck in your head for days after playing, but they’re enough to enhance the natural ambiance, and make this space feel dreamy, open, and limitless. Sometimes, less is more, and with ibb and obb, that statement rings true.

ibb and obb - 07

Online/Multiplayer:
The entire single player campaign can be completed cooperatively with a local buddy or an online friend or stranger. With the heavy emphasis on co-op, the game exceeds when played locally. Online, however, doesn’t fare as well. With no built in voice chat, players are reliant on a gesture system that allows players to draw paths with the right stick. It’s a system that barely works when I need it to, while also not being as clear as it could have been. Do yourself a favor, and play this game with a friend.

Conclusion:
ibb and obb is one of the best multiplayer games I have played in a long time. It requires some adept problem solving skills and good communication, both of which are lacking with online play. While playing with people around the globe is serviceable, it can’t hold a candle to playing this with a buddy locally. The single player can become downright unplayable at times, but thanks to online, all of the trouble spots can be cleared. If you plan on playing this alone, skip this game. Otherwise, grab a friend and be ready to get irritated with them as you die repeated deaths. ibb and obb deserves your play time.

Score:
7.5

Written by Eric R. Miller

A 21 year old multimedia student who lives, eats, and breathes everything Playstation. Follow me on Google

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook