Originally a free online multiplayer Flash game, Globulos Party is a turn-based physics game that is very proud to use only the DSi stylus. The developers, GlobZ, able to accomplish this by providing a game with an incredibly simple interface that doesn’t demand much of the player. The game screams “pick up and play” and boasts a number of fun minigames that anyone can learn and master, regardless of gaming experience. It is an undeniably cute little game that is certainly worth taking a look at, but is it actually worth buying when its free counterpart provides such a similar experience and is still available with a fair number of competitive players at any given time? If you have recently taken interest in this bouncy new title, that question has likely crossed your mind, and this Globulos Party review will hopefully be able to answer it for you.
Winner of Best Mobile Platform Game of the Year in 2009 at the Milthon Festival du Jeu Vidéo, a French video game awards festival, this minigame collection from GlobZ has managed to spark a fair amount of interest. Despite the name, Globulos Party isn’t actually a party game, at least not by most people’s standards. No, put simply, it is a collection of minigames—allowing one to two players—that are all played in a very similar fashion. There is one gimmick and they vehemently stick to it, so don’t expect another Mario Party DS here. Of course, don’t let that deter you either because the lack of variety in gameplay types, there is still much fun to be had.
Globulos are small, round creatures that are rather cute, colorful, and squishy. The king of the Globulos is not as young as he used to be, so he asks you to lead the little critters in his stead. Being a rather playful bunch, Globulos are very involved in playing games and in order to earn their faith and trust, you will have to compete in all of their favorite games and prove your worth. In order to accomplish this, you must choose two different Globulos types to represent you on the field. The first Globulos will act as your primary team that you normally control. The second one will be your backup, just in case your opposing team is the same color as your primary Globulos.
Playing Globulos Party is extremely simple. As previously stated, the entire game is handled by using only the stylus, and that is because it features a click-and-drag control scheme. At the start of a level, you are given a team of three mobile and identical Globulos (not counting a non-playable king or sumo in some games) and your opponent controls a team of equal size. Depending on the goal of the game, you will control your Globulos by clicking on each one individually, dragging an arrow around, and letting go. The length of the arrow will determine the distance and strength of the move. You have a set amount of time to decide on directions for all of your teammates and once you have done so, you can simply click on the Go! button at the top and watch them fly. It is like watching a game of billiards as all of the little creatures plow into each other and bounce around. While you play, the top screen displays a map that shows the locations of everyone, as well as their chosen paths. While directing your characters, a dotted guide line will appear, allowing you to increase your accuracy.
And that’s it. Like I said: extremely simple. There is more to it than just that, however. All games use the same control mechanics, but whether you are scoring goals or knocking your opponents into holes, your strategies will vary significantly. The beauty of the game is that it relies heavily on bluffing and double-bluffing because you and your opponent cannot see each other’s moves until the action starts. You may expect an enemy to charge you, so you decide to charge right back. But if you miscalculated their move and they go a different direction, you may very well end up sending yourself flying into a hole or a bomb. Planning each move is tricky and you must decide if you are going to bluff and avoid an obvious route to throw off your opponent, or if you are going to double-bluff and take the obvious route with the assumption that they are expecting you to bluff. This method of playing takes a bare-bones concept and makes it rather exciting, albeit somewhat frustrating at times.
Completing the singleplayer mode requires you to play through every type of game available, most of which are based on sports. Several like Soccer and Hockey require you to knock a ball/puck into a goal. Some games require you to land on certain spots—or avoid them—and some require you to push around an NPC such as a king or sumo wrestler. My personal favorite is Monster, in which a monster Globulo bounces around a ring in each turn. You want to get your Globulos as far away from as possible because at the end of the turn, he will fire a laser and blast whoever is closest. There are 20 different game types in all and many of them have two or three variant fields to play on, which adds up to a total of 50 different playable fields. Each field also has three AI levels that must be beat, which means there are 150 challenges. Most of these challenges take up to five minutes each to complete, so one could easily spend 12 hours on the singleplayer mode alone. Given the casual on-the-go nature of the game, it could very well last you quite a long time.
Despite the exhaustive singleplayer mode, this game is obviously designed for multiplayer action, which is far more interesting and intuitive. It plays exactly the same, but obviously, your opponent is going to be a bit more unpredictable. And the fine folks at GlobZ have done a fairly good job of making it accessible to people by providing a few different options. Wireless Play allows to players to sync up their games, as is the norm with most multiplayer games these days. If your friend doesn’t own a copy of the game or if they are stuck with a traditional DS or DS Lite, DS Download Play is available, which will let you transmit a demo to them so they can enjoy the multiplayer game with you. And if you don’t know anyone with a DS of any kind, there is even an option to pass the DSi back and forth while players take turns. These are all excellent features, but for some reason, there is no option for Nintendo WFC to allow online play. Including it would be a logical choice for a multiplayer-centric game, and its exclusion comes at quite a disappointment.
That is easily one of the biggest problems with the game, but there are other concerns as well. First, there is no pause menu. Once you begin playing a game, you either have to complete it or quit. And every turn is timed, so there aren’t any breaks. Thankfully, each challenge only takes a few minutes to complete. The main issue with Globulos Party is that it is in competition with its free online predecessor—known simply as Globulos—and I feel it has a bit of trouble keeping up. The DSiWare version has a fully fleshed-out singleplayer mode that is far superior to the browser-based game, but it is seriously lacking when it comes to customization. Although this aspect comes at a fee, the original Globulos allows you to fully customize your own creature, giving it spikes, interesting colors, facial hair, and more. They have tried to balance this out by providing around 60 unlockable characters for the handheld version, but it’s just not the same as being able to personalize them to your tastes.
Also missing are the power-ups that add a much deeper level of strategy to the Flash game. Invisibility, magnetism, gusts of wind, and other special abilities make the game far more interesting and not having these available makes it feel somewhat lacking. On top of that, the original game also has tournaments, leaderboards, and customizable singleplayer challenges in which you must find the best strategy to earn points while knowing what the opponent’s moves will be. The exclusion of these features may have very well been because of size constraints. After all, Nintendo employs fairly strict guidelines for game file sizes. However, I can’t help but feel that the game would be significantly better with these things included. Even at twice the price, it would be well worth it.
Still, even without these features, Globulos Party is a very fun game in its own right. The game’s lack of music during gameplay is an odd choice, but it is rife with soothing sound effects that effectively emulate the feeling of actually playing out on a field. And although the character design is simplistic, the visuals are excellent. Young kids will love it because it feels like playing a cartoon, and older players will appreciate the attention to detail. The game doesn’t quite live up to the legacy of its online counterpart, but Globulos Party still has one distinct advantage: you can play it anywhere at your leisure. It truly is a pick-up-and-play kind of game that anyone get into without any previous experience. I can only that additional features can be released as add-ons or that a full-retail sequel will come about someday, but for what it is, Globulos Party provides hours of great silly fun and is well worth the 500 points.
Globulos Party was developed and published by GlobZ. It was released for Nintendo’s DSiWare on March 1, 2010.