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I’ve wanted to take a look at Ooblets for a while now, and at PAX West 2018 I had the good fortune to preview the game with its two developers. Rebecca Cordingly and Ben Wasser make up Glumberlands, the charming New Hampshire-based studio behind Ooblets and they were kind enough to walk me through part of the game.
This quirky Animal Crossing/Harvest Moon/Pokemon hybrid is just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s just incredibly cute and colorful and just feels nice. Not just nice like “good,” but nice like “cordial and warm.”
Ooblets Preview: Who You Are and Who You Want to Be
I began the demo by customizing my character. Ooblets does way with the standard gender convention and instead just throws all the choices in together. This gives you an excellent pool of hairstyles and clothing to pick from and is a great way to make everyone feel included.
Once I had my character made, I was presented with the choice of four clubs to join. Each of them has a particular focus which gives you certain perks. After I picked my club – I chose Frunbuns, which is for major cuties like me – I was whisked into the town via boat. The mayor met with me and encouraged me to wander around town and talk to a few people. After doing so, I got a chance to take part in my first Ooblets battle.
Ooblets Preview: Dance For Your Life
Combat in Ooblets is a bit different than you’re likely used to. Instead of engaging in a mortal struggle the tiny adorable little friends face each other in dance-offs. These are dictated via a card system which presents you with a number of options on each turn. Some cards can cause ego damage to your opponent, ego being the health points of Ooblets. Others can buff your Ooblets or refill their ego.
You can dance battle on a scale higher than 1v1 as well. Up to 3v3 battles can occur, and these dance-offs can require a bit of strategy to win. Since not every card your Ooblets learn causes damage, you have to preserve the ones that do for the right times. You don’t want to just pick cards at random in this game trying to down opposing Ooblets.
If you pick a card that does more damage than the amount of ego your foe has left, then any damage after that is wasted. The idea is to do precisely the right amount of ego damage to take them out That way you can save higher damage cards for other opponents.
Ooblets Preview: Farming For Friends
In Ooblets you’ll also get a chance to have your own homestead, complete with a field for farming. You can plant crops to sell and make money, and this is also the primary way you’ll get Ooblets. There’s a chance after battles that you’ll get a seed for an Ooblet as a reward for winning. To actually add that Ooblet to your team, though, you’ll need to plant the seed at your farm and tend it until it sprouts. Then you can harvest it to get a new little Ooblet to add to your family.
Watering your Ooblets will get them to sprout, but there’s also a way to give them a kickstart in life. By using fertilizer, you can strengthen them while they’re still growing. This way once they sprout they’re not starting all the way down at level one. Rebecca and Ben didn’t go into a ton of detail on how this will work past the basics, but it seems like it’ll add a layer of complexity and customization that will make growing Ooblets even more rewarding.
There’s plenty of customization in areas other than Ooblets as well. You’ll get a chance to add furniture to your house, which is extremely barebones starting out. There’s a definite Animal Crossing vibe here, though you don’t start out riddled with debt, which is definitely less stressful than having Tom Nook breathing down your neck.
Ooblets is adorable, fun, and has a lot of heart. There’s a ton of games that try to spin something unique from the Harvest Moon, Pokemon, and/or, Animal Crossing formulas, but don’t get far enough away to establish their own voice. However, Ooblets has a unique enough spin and style that it feels wholly its own. I loved the demo, and I can’t wait to see the final game when it comes out sometime in 2019.