STAFF REVIEW of Raining Blobs (Xbox One)

Monday, January 29, 2018.
by Brent Roberts

Raining Blobs Box art One of the earliest types of games around were puzzle games. Simple to program, simple to design, and yet they still managed to provide hours, and sometimes even decades, of entertainment. Out of this extremely long pedigree comes an indie game called Raining Blobs from developer Black Shell Games.

Now, I'll let you in on a little secret; I'm a huge puzzle game fan. From Tetris to Puzzle Fighter, and all of the games in between, I find that their cerebral strain can be more entertaining to me than just blindly going around shooting and killing things. Priced at $9.99, I'm anxious to see just how well Black Shell Games did with this game.

When you start out, Raining Blobs takes you through a brief tutorial, which I skipped accidentally. This tutorial guides you as to how to make your matches, but more importantly, how to clear your colors. Since you may, or may not, do the error I did, here is how you operate the game. Using various buttons to rotate your 2 blob piece, you will find a section of the board and then drop said piece in that section (the best example I can think of is Dr. Mario). Now that you have your piece there you will start to build with similar colored blobs (or orbs, whatever...) and then you may see a piece that contains a star. Thinking at first that this is how you clear the color, you include it in the construction of your color, but upon placing it you realize that it doesn't go away. This is because now you need ANOTHER starred blob thingy to actually trigger the disappearance and score the orbs connected.

If it sounds like it's confusing, it's because it is. However, while the game mechanics are simplistic, how they are applied and managed is a totally different thing. This is thanks to Raining Blob's temporary surges in speed, and the fact that you're going to have to focus on not only what's coming next for your character, but your opponents as well. To help regulate the insanity, you will occasionally be dropped a blob that has a diamond attached to it. This piece of salvation will remove any color it touches, and while that's a good thing, I find it more useful to remove color pieces that aren't connected in a long network. This way when the obstructions are removed, the remaining similar colored blobs will connect forming an even more gigantic chain that will lead to incredibly high scores.

You can rack up high scores due to the fact that Raining Blobs treats you to a few game modes which aren't anything new or innovative, but you can play against the CPU or other humans if you so wish. Arcade mode sets the end level and tasks you to reach it, yet I never got close, though I'm sure with enough practice and time it could be accomplished. It is here is where I started to get a feel for the controls and how the game itself should be played.

Next is Tournament mode where I found another irrelevancy within the game, the characters themselves. Apparently, these retro anime styled girls seem to have a story or history to tell, yet none of it is worth reading or even caring about. There is one catch though, and that is these computer AI opponents are without a doubt, the most frustrating opponents I've encountered in quite some time.

In Tournament mode, when you make a match, you send other blobs to your opponent, and when their play area is full, you win. Sounds simple yes? Well, I was making matches after matches and sending blobs to my opponent who then ended up somehow miraculously converting them into a 50 blob chain that the computer then cleared, seemingly taking me out in one hit. This is also on the easiest difficult setting.

So naturally, I thought about turning up the difficulty. I haven't seen something get beat that hard since a Salvation Army drum. The computer would be making lightning fast moves that perplexed at first, then one pair of orbs would drop from above like a key and WHAM! Everything clears, massive combos are reached and my screen goes too full almost instantly. If you're going to try to up the difficulty, good luck.

Now, even though this will cause you to pull out whatever hair you have left, there is a mode called Puzzle that is actually quite cerebral. Instead of dealing with opponents who are incredibly difficult, this challenge pits you against the board, and it's your job to solve it with a single pair of blobs. With 100 puzzles to solve, this is where patience and thinking are better than wildly placing blobs everywhere you can think of.

While Raining Blobs tries to offer multiple game modes for variety, they try and keep your attention. To do this, Raining Blobs outfits the game with retro styled anime girls in skimpy outfits and places them in varying stages with pointless scenes and music that will leave you underwhelmed at every stage of the game. But that's the thing about Raining Blobs. It's not trying to be something it's not, and that's when the revelation of the game made sense to me.

Raining Blobs isn't trying to be some epic RPG game or some action packed shooter that's filled with beautiful content and a sweeping musical score. Instead, Raining Blobs is trying to be a throwback retro puzzle game on a modern platform that highlights some of the vintage puzzle atmospheres of the past. While I wish there were some tweaks, the overall style of the game itself is worth checking out, but not for $9.99. If the game ever gets to $4.99 on sale, and you like puzzle games (which don't have stupid odd point based achievements like some OTHER puzzle games have had) that involve anime girls in skimpy outfits getting blasted by blobs, then this is the game for you...blobmaster.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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