Ooblets is a farming, town life, and creature collection game. Manage your farm, grow and train your ooblets, explore strange lands, and have dance-offs!
After six years, Ooblets 1.0 officially released yesterday. I’ve had some investment in Ooblets’ development, as I’ve had the beta version (or, as Xbox likes to label it, the “Game Preview”) of Ooblets since its release, and came back to the game on each and every update it’s had. I spent the better half of yesterday and today beating the official storyline, so I’ll be able to go over what’s improved with this 1.0 update, what still needs improving, and what they’ve done right since the get-go.
What’s Good About Ooblets
As a dance battle game, you’d hope the music that blasts while doing said dancing is good, or at the very least tolerable. While it can get a little droning if the battle goes on long enough, the battle music mixes up not only the song but genre for each battle, and pumps out the beats to groove your way to victory. The music that goes on outside of battles is even better. My particular favorites are the up-too-late music (a variant of the morning music) and the new music created for the final laps of the story. Good vibing all around.
Everything is absolutely adorable in Ooblets – the Ooblets themselves, the clothing you and the Ooblets can wear, the illustrations for the cards – everything is fantastic.
The writing in Ooblets is probably the best part of the game – it ranges from satirical to witty to randomly hilarious, and it’s fantastic at every turn. Sometimes you’ll feel heard, sometimes you’ll feel supported, sometimes you’ll feel yourself smiling wryly. It’s a nice mixture of eat the rich and whimsical randomness.
There are POC, people with mental disorders, people who range on the Autistic spectrum; I don’t need to go into why this is awesome.
What’s Improved Since The Game Preview
The main menu now has a fancy lil’ floating Ooblets title. While a small change, it really makes this feel like an official game now. The air balloon traveling menu is now a beautiful map, versus its old simple menu.
The Dance Barn now gives you various resources for winning, rather than Ooblet seeds. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of this, but once I needed 20 oobsidian for one of the final story tasks, I was ridiculously onboard for it.
Taking a hot air balloon ride will no longer strand some of your Ooblets and/or splice them into a dimension between the basket.
Instead of having to deposit a specific Ooblet, there are now a variety of new tasks that get cycled through, including picking up mystery cans in the Wildlands or finding an Ooblet who escaped and is hiding in Badgetown. (NOTE: Unlike those owned by people of the town, these Ooblets can hide in buildings.)
What Still Needs Improving in Ooblets
They’re arbitrary. There’s no difficulty and, as such, no strategy needed for the battles. Case in point, they changed up a lot of the cards, with some signature cards simply changing your Ooblets to small ones for the rest of the battle; this doesn’t give you any bonus or effect other than that they’re just visually tiny.
During my two-day cramming, I had an opponent play a card that converts all my current fluster to their points, when I didn’t have any fluster to begin with, and then they played a card that gave me fluster. I know Ooblets are supposed to be no thoughts head empty kind of peeps, but it just makes the battles tedious, especially since they can go on for 5-10 minutes at a time – not because they’re not challenging, it’s just because they take forever.
You could just mash A on all your cards each turn without any thought or consideration and you’ll still win; I’ve never lost an Ooblet battle, nor have I ever come close to, with or without strategy. I know Ooblets as a whole is supposed to be a cozy, leisurely game, but there’s a difference between easygoing and boring.
Speaking of easygoing vs boring, the amount of time in each day is ridiculous. There’s simply not enough to do to pass each day, especially since the dance battles don’t take any in-game time. The creators heard enough people complain about this that they invented the “Sippysooth”, a recipe that allows you to sleep through to the next day at any point in time. But there’s a few problems with that as well. Firstly, you can only get enough ingredients to make two Sippysoothes per week, three if you’re lucky. Second, this is just putting a band-aid over the problem. Rather than fill the game with more to do, or lower the in-game time of each day, they just sarcastically said, “I guess some of our players are speed-runners” and came up with a semi-solution.
Quality of life
Storage management is non-existent; there’s no way to consolidate items across your storages with a click of a button. Instead it’s an accidentally created puzzle of checking each storage, seeing which items I have in one storage that match another, and then storing and unstoring items into each unit until everything has its own singular stack. There’s also the fact that you can only order from a [spoiler I won’t give] and the Wishy Well one single item at a time. Then you have to scroll all the way back down to order another, rinse and repeat the process.
Ooblet housing is also atrocious – my entire yard is covered in houses because you can only house max five Ooblets per house. And you can only have so many unhoused Ooblets before you’re not allowed to harvest any more until you get more housing. It destroys the purpose of the farming sim aspect of the game, as you’ll eventually lose all land with which to farm, and severely hinders the creature collection aspect. Trekking your Ooblets back and forth from the farm to the scanner is ridiculously tedious; I wish you could just call them over once you’re at the scanner or some such. Overall, the quality of life is severely lacking.
You get stickers when you level up your friendships with people, and a little reward or two (either coffee, which I have 150 cups of solely from being gifted them, or a stack of sticks), and that’s it. Dialogue doesn’t change, you can’t use said stickers, and you don’t really feel closer to the person despite being told you’re a better friend with them now.
I’d love new dialogue and character progression, like maybe Padraig having his social anxiety eased, at least with you (not just him saying something along the lines once in a while, but an actual permanent effect). Instead (as much as I love the dialogue writing), you get the same collection of phrases cycled through, and you continue to talk to these people just to eventually get some more supplies.
Other than determining your first Ooblet, these do absolutely nothing. I thought I’d have a quest you can only get from being a part of a specific clubhouse, or maybe I’d rep my clubhouse at the Dance Barn. But no, you are a club member in name only.
If you’re not confined to a path, you’re playing a walking simulator. There’s no interaction with any of the areas. For example, with the new invitation-only islands, there’s tons of decor, such as standing Ooblet showers and a boombox, but you can’t do anything with them. With Pantsabear Hill, it’s essentially just vast empty land you have to walk across. Don’t even get me started on the new mountain you have to walk up and down on. Each area is glorified staging, with no feeling of areas being alive or organic.
There’s quite a lot of representation in the game, which is great! But with a few people, Churles in particular, I can’t help but feel they’re sometimes laughing at him, rather than with him. A close friend of mine has OCD, of the contamination and intrusive thoughts variety, and I do see her directly in Churles – in that way, I think the representation is accurate. But as mentioned earlier, I feel like the intention with some of the dialogue is comedic; Churles has what those not experienced with OCD would consider “conspiracy theory-esque” or “over the top/ridiculous” mannerisms, but they’re genuine, life-ruining fears for real people with OCD. It feels as if they’re being played as a joke in Ooblets.
That being said, Sprin at some point will say “I disinfect the doorknobs to Manatwee just in case Churles wants to stop by.” I showed this to my friend, who was ridiculously touched by it; this bit of dialogue does give me hope that perhaps the comedy angle of Churles was unintentional.
The Mystery Cans mystery
I won’t give any spoilers, but the mystery does get solved, and I was quite disappointed with the reveal. It would have been great if you were given hints all throughout the storyline, and you could, at the end, try and guess who the culprit is. There is a character, in fact, that gives you Mystery Cans sometimes when you level up your friendship with them, but evidently this is irrelevant. The reveal felt tacked on at the end (even though I’m sure they were planning this the whole time), and I felt cheated out of a better story. The reveal made sense, but only because of the very last mission you complete, not a moment before.
Despite the need for many improvements, I do still have quite a lot of hope for Ooblets; it’s why I purposely wrote “needs improving” vs “The Bad” or somesuch. Ooblets is clearly a labor of love from the first-time gamemaker couple who runs Glumberland, the studio of Ooblets, and they did certainly listen to their fans throughout the creation process – something that can’t be said about a lot of studios, indie or AAA. I am still rooting for Ooblets.
Ooblets is available now in the Nintendo eShop.