Matching games appear to be on a bit of a downward spiral these days, with very few appearing on the Xbox One recently. I dare say that the newest game of this ilk, at first glance, doesn’t look like it’ll provide a turnaround for the genre. Looks can be deceiving though, and that’s the hope as I tackle fast-paced arcade puzzler Raining Blobs, which seems to be inspired by the likes of the legendary Tetris. Could Raining Blobs possibly deliver an experience to rival such a classic, or is it merely a poor imitation?
Well one thing is for sure, Raining Blobs has its own identity, as is clear in both the aesthetics and the gameplay. Starting with the gameplay, the aim is to manoeuvre two blobs at a time from the top of the board, rotating them accordingly in order to match them with other blobs of the same colour. At least two blobs of the same colour are needed to make that specific chain disappear. But they’ll only actually be destroyed whenever two similarly coloured starred blobs are also present and linked within that chain. Got that? No, probably not as it took me a short while to grasp the method of removal, but nevertheless, that’s the basic principal for all modes.
Depending on which mode you play, the goal obviously differs. Arcade mode challenges you to keep building up and eliminating blocks from the board until the maximum level is reached – whatever this is, I doubt I’ve even come close in truth – or until the board is full, and then it’s game over. Even on the normal difficulty, the play moves at a steady pace and additional colours are thrown in the further you get, ruining the links you’ve made already as you wait for the colour appropriate star to fall. What makes it all the more difficult are the frenetic moments which appear randomly, where the speed of play becomes rapid for a few seconds. It’s crazy. Luckily there’s also a special diamond shaped gem that pops up every now and then, which comes into effect when it lands on a blob, enabling you to rid that blobs colour from the board.
I haven’t mentioned the characters you can choose to play as in each of the modes, mainly because it has zero effect on how the game plays out. But in Tournament mode, the spotlight is on these cutesy anime style girls and the stories they have to tell us. Oh, did I say stories? I meant pointless battles with random text-based banter between the girls that adds virtually no substance to proceedings. The mode itself though is an exciting prospect; facing off 1v1 against all the CPU controlled characters, creating matches to send ‘garbage’ onto the opponent’s board and hoping their board is full before yours is. For some reason it’s ridiculously hard to beat these A.I. opponents, despite trying on the easiest difficulty and sending tonnes of garbage their way, thus unfairly sending me to my demise. I guess I’ll never reach the boss, Enya, and find out what gloriously awful quip she has for me.
Endless mode doesn’t do much better either, in the sense that it’s an endless version of these tough 1v1 battles. This left my post-Arcade hopes in the hands of Puzzle mode. Puzzle is really clever, with 100 levels to get through, one after the other, and all you’ve got is a single pair of blobs to clear the whole board. It’s fast, furious and mentally tasking, but each and every solution you manage is a massive victory in the realms of your mind. The pure satisfaction of managing to solve more and more correctly with each attempt is right high on the fun meter.
If you have friends, you don’t have to play it alone and can have up to eight human players involved locally in all aspects of the action. If you’re lonesome, CPU players can be added instead or as well as your friends. On paper it’s a real bonus to be able to have so many people able to share the good, and the bad, but in reality it makes everyone’s board so small that it’s hard to see what’s going on – and that’s on a large TV.
As far as audio and visuals are concerned, the former is very old school sounding and is just about annoying enough to need muting after a short while. I’m not particularly fond of the pixelated visuals, nor the anime inspired girls staring at me in their short skirts. Mainly as it’s a tad creepy. But hey, it’s the gameplay that matters, right?
And from purely a gameplay perspective, Raining Blobs suitably entertains in short bursts due to the Arcade mode and the mildly addictive Puzzle mode. The matching concept makes for a nice change and the buttons are easy to pick up for anyone to give it a go. It’s a shame that the other modes are unfairly difficult, the visuals aren’t good at all, and the idea of having loads of players on a single TV at once just doesn’t work.
I hesitate to recommend Raining Blobs, but I won’t condemn it either. It’s alright, but the longevity just isn’t there.