Ibb & Obb Review

Ibb & Obb

When I first played Ibb & Obb a few months ago at E3, I was charmed. It’s this side-scrolling platform game with a little green guy and a little pink guy (slightly taller) and two gimmicks. One: you control each character with one analog stick, making for some left-brain/right-brain acrobatics that at first seem surmountable with a simple “move one, then the other” play style but become nearly impossible by about halfway through the game. Two: the levels are split horizontally right down the middle with a Mason-Dixon Line of gravitational planes; things both above and below the line are drawn to it, and you carry your inertia through holes in the divider to accomplish jumps on one half that you started on the other. It only takes a second to “get it,” then you’re well on your way.

Ibb & ObbIt’s not really action-heavy – most of the game involves figuring out how to use your one ability (jumping) to overcome puzzles which are invariably “get over a high platform so you can keep moving to the right.” You’ll stack Ibb and Obb on top of each other (I never was sure which was which) to jump higher, and most enemies can only be beaten from one side of the middle line. This causes them to burst into gems that need to be collected from the other side to earn trophies and top the leaderboard.

But most of the game is just moving right, getting stuck for five minutes while you try to figure out how to get both characters over a tall obstacle, then repeat. The worst part is that overcoming each particular bump in the road doesn’t feel very gratifying when you know that you have another one almost exactly like it ten seconds later. Sure, there are eventually some added gameplay quirks, like bubbles that will raise you higher into the air or machines that need to be pressed from both sides at the same time to pass them, but it’s all just jumping.

Ibb & ObbHave you ever played Thomas Was Alone? That, too, is a game just about jumping. And the characters weren’t even as cute as Ibb and Obb – they were just rectangles. But there was a soothing voiceover that gave each rectangle a personality and the levels were different enough from one another to be their own thing. Ibb & Obb doesn’t have either of those. Pretty pastel colors and one mechanic will not get you very far in 2013.

Maybe my biggest problem is that I don’t have any friends to play it with. I imagine that working through these puzzles while sitting next to a buddy could be gratifying on a level comparable with Portal 2, as the one time I was able to find someone online to play with that didn’t lag like crazy was a decently enjoyable experience. There’s no voice chat, but you are able to draw hint paths for your buddy with the right stick, swooping paintbrush style (not ideal, but I kind of get where they were going with it). Controlling only one of the characters is much more doable, and the mini dance parties at the end of the stages are a nice touch… but for a solo player with only laggy online play as the alternative? This game will remain unbeaten and only remembered as a quirky game that was too difficult for its own good. It’s like piloting a Jaeger in Pacific Rim: by yourself, you’re just going to die. With a friend on the same brain wavelength? You’ll die a little less.


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Author: Nick Simberg View all posts by
Nick has been gaming since before he was born. He was weaned on the original Legend of Zelda and sees the recent entries as far too easy. Today, he has a beard and usually spends his nights writing for his own self-made game blog, digitalgumballs.com.

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