I love a good bit of Co-op gaming. To me it is the pinnacle of multiplayer. The idea that as opposed to years of adversarial and competitive gaming you are made to come together to work to a common goal, entertains me no end. The joy of successfully completing an objective, that alone would have been impossible, is a fascinating thing that has taken anthropologists and zoologists interest. There is the flip side of the situation though, when that common goal is just in reach, a fingers grasp away from victory and success, and then your partner screws up. What do you do in this situation? do you just shrug your shoulders and think, ah well it’s just a game. Or do you pull out your trusty two by four and make their knees go all camel? If you are inclined to stress or shouting at your partner, may I suggest you avoid Ibb and Obb. However if you are a good person at heart or good at hiding the evil within, Ibb and Obb is a genuine must play on the PSN.
The concept is simple, actually no it isn’t. There’s Ibb, the green fella, and Obb, the pink fella. I’m not actually sure of their gender or if there is even a story here. To me it was an experiment in pleasure and pain. One minute you’re riding high on some of the best and most interesting art from an indie studio and the next minute you’re wanting to whip your controller through your TV. In this world there are two planes of existence, one upright and the other upside down. You are tasked with getting both Ibb and Obb to the end of each level manipulating your perspective to solve puzzles, kill enemies and collect diamonds. At first this is a simple process one where the only reason to change perspective is to make a jump a bit easier but as you move through the game new elements are brought in to throw you off your stride.
The first couple of elements introduced are the idea of using alternating portals between perspectives to build momentum to reach a high point, the other element is the jump pad. Pressure on one side of the pad sends the other side up in a perfect example of Newton’s Third Law. The game doesn’t really explain these new elements, but then it doesn’t need to. Any time you are stuck in this game, taking a step back and realising what your goal is and working out what puzzle pieces you metaphorically have is a sure-fire way to progress. The main issue with this game is the difficulty. Sometimes the enemies are a little too intentionally awkwardly placed, or the jumps have to be a little bit too precise. With the world being so geometrically perfect it makes sense that everything else needs to be, but it does add to frustrations when jumps feel almost cruel.
The enemies are generally large black spikey blobs, quite reminiscent of the soot sprites in My Neighbour Totoro. On one perspective they are deadly, on the other they are harmless white balls that can be killed, destroying both enemies in the process. The game grants you diamonds for your various troubles, and much like Rayman Origins it is most annoying at the end when you realise you were only 10 off acing the level.
Single player is available with Ibb and Obb each being controlled by one of the sticks. This however doesn’t feel like it’s connected to the rest of the game. It seems to be an Easter Egg that wasn’t hidden very well. Although it is technically possible to complete the game like this, and there is even a trophy for it, I would highly urge people to only play this co-op. It feels like that was what the game was made for and anything else that may detract from that is just a cruel and unusual punishment.
If you have a friend, a partner or a captive prisoner, all of which you have expendable connections to, then I urge you, nay, insist you purchase this game and play it immediately. You will be filled with a serene emotion as the bright colours, minimalist art, cute characters and enticing music all fill your senses causing painful anger and juxtaposed emotions as you miss a simple jump for the Nth time. The game looks cute and is cute, but underneath that sweet facade is the face of a brutally taxing and draining game. With its difficulty bouncing up and down like an ADHD kid on a trampoline you are treated to a great experience on the PS3 and one I hope moves to more platforms soon.
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