Saturday, August 20, 2011

Glover (PSX) Review

1998, 1999 Interactive Studios/Hasbro Interactive/Atari

Reviewed: August 18th-20th, 2011
As a gamer, there will come a day when you experience certain video games unlike any other you've played since, and will leave you with a strange impact. Glover is one of them for me. I remember long ago when I first played it on one of my friends' PlayStation One console. I didn't play much of it, because it left me a bit confounded, but from the little experience I've had with it, it was quite unique. Never had I ever had an anthropomorphic glove as a controllable character in a video game before. Many years later, feeling that I needed to revisit this game and having a full experience with it, I decided to give it a shot back in September '10 for the PlayStation One. Before having ordered it on eBay, I looked up that there were two versions of this game released a year prior to the Sony one: one for the Nintendo 64 and the other for the PC. I haven't played those two versions, so I'm not going to compare. Having beaten it two times now, and having gotten further experience with it, I thought it was a whole lot better than when I first tried it when I was little. But is it a quality title? Let's find out.

Glover's tale begins long ago in a peaceful time and place. It was a nice day in the castle, like any other, but that would last only for a short a bit. That day, in the castle, a wizard tried to concoct a spell using potions in his cauldron while using his magical gloves. But something went wrong. The necromancer incidentally used the wrong potion, which caused an explosion that made his gloves fly off of him. One of them (Glover) landed safely outside the turret window, but sadly the other glove fell inside the cauldron. But that's not all: what happens next is that the wizard turns into petrified gold and falls down into a cave. But wait, there's more: no sooner than that does the seven turret crystals get dislodged off the castle. Those crystals are what is keeping the castle fully intact. Luckily one of them landed right outside the castle, but the remaining six disappear into other realms that neighbor it. If they're not recovered in time, there's going to be trouble. But wait, there's still more: what happened to the other glove after having fallen in the cauldron is that he's become a boxing glove, consumed by pure evil. So now it is up to Glover to save the castle, return his brother to normal, and ultimately reverse the petrification curse on the wizard. But it will not be an easy task, as there are obstacles to be overcome and enemies to be faced, all ending in a bout with the other glove. He will venture in the worlds of Atlantis, Carnival, Pirates, Prehistoric, Fear, and Space.

You control the sentient four-fingered glove named Glover, who uses his middle two fingers as legs and his outer fingers as arms. That's quite a concept. Controls for this game are decent. He can run around, make jumps, and if you time it right, double jumps. Glover's also got a few tricks up his sleeves. He's also got other skills, too, most of which have got to do with controlling the ball. Now what does that have to do with the turret crystal issue that was discussed earlier, you may ask? Well, seeing as he's a magical glove, he has the power to transform the turret crystal into one of the following: a rubbery bouncy ball, a large and robust bowling ball, and a small and metallic ball berrier. What's good about the different variations is that they can be used in certain situations which suits them best. The bouncy ball is the only one that floats on water, the bowling ball sinks and can be used to break stuff, and ball berriers can be used by magnets when it comes to getting certain cards out of reach. Beware, because you're not the only one who can morph the ball, as there are a few enemies out there that can change the ball's appearance as well. You'd best be absolutely careful if it gets transformed to its original form, as it's very fragile, and if it shatters, you have to start over from either the beginning of the level or the last checkpoint you shot your ball through. With the Triangle button you can choose which perspective shot you want; whether it be the distant (default) shot, the medium shot, or the zoomed-in shot. The right analog controls the game's camera angles, as long as you're in areas that allow you to. If you're farther away from the ball, you can always press the Circle button to literally make Glover point you in the right direction. I guess he's got a strong bond with the turret crystals. Anyway, Glover can traverse the levels alone (if you feel the need to), but in order to progress to the next level you have to reach the end with the ball. This game takes place in a hub world, and each world portal will lead you to a different level, especially the bonus level which is accessed after you defeat the world boss. Glover can make drop attack by getting into his fist position and fall down quickly to the ground, where the round vibration around him can be used as an advantage, too. In each world, including the hub world, there are a numerous amount of cards in the regular levels, and if you collect all the cards in a level you earn a life, and should you collect all the cards from all three regular levels, your health capacity will increase by one. You can raise Glover's health capacity to nine if you manage to collect all the cards in all the regular levels. After the third level of each world, you will face a boss who's been transformed by the evil glove who will try to impede your progress.

\The game's soundtrack is good. It's charming and it's got a nice, playful, and lighthearted quality to it. It's got several good songs, with a few songs in the mix that are rather weak, in my opinion. The hub world is nice to listen to with its calm, relaxing sound, and the Atlantis themes are very cool. The Pirates themes are fitting and swashbuckling. The Prehistoric themes are primordial, and the Space themes sound galaxial, which is really cool. I like the Fear themes, with its various sounds, ominous music, and clever composition. The various boss and bonus themes sound cool, and some of them are better than others. I don't really like the Carnival themes much, as I find them annoying due to their circus-y like sound. But, thankfully the good beats the bad as far as the music in this game goes. The sound effects, on the other hand, are sweet. I like the sound that comes from collecting cards, and I like how the melody escalates when you collect them in a row. The sound for when Glover's brother laughs maniacally when he's turned evil in the intro is very deep, and Glover's voice isn't bad, either. I like how whenever he transforms his ball, he'll say brief phrases like "Abra-cadabra", "Kazaam", and "Wabababo". He also says another phrase, but due to how he says it, I find it hard to catch what he says. I really love how he says "Whoopee!" during certain moments when you've collected all the cards in a level or when you've finished a level. After reaching the end with the ball, Glover makes a snap sound which I find very authentic. The splash sound for whenever you jump in and out of the water is pleasant to listen to, and the rest of the sound effects are cool, too. Well, most of them (I'll get to the bird character's sounds later).

Glover's visuals are okay, considering when it come out in the console's lifespan. Glover animates smoothly, although he doesn't look like he's swinging his left arm when he's running, which looks very odd to me. I like how he has ovals for eyes and how he has a mouth. His idle animations (whether or not he's near the ball) are fun to watch, and I like his pointing animation. The butterfly flying around in the hub world is nice to look at, too, and the enemies and bosses look good, albeit aged, too. I like various each of this game's worlds are in style and look: the temple-like structure of Atlantis is appealing; the dark, stormy nature of Fear is atmospheric; and the colors of Carnival are nice. Just reading these description might make you feel that the game is visually breathtaking; it's not. In fact, this game has visual details which make it appear like it came out way early in the console's lifespan; like, for example, if a round enemy approaches you, you'll notice that only the eyes and/or glasses change position, and not the actual body. There's also the case in certain areas where walls and/or objects cannot be seen until you approach a little closer. For reasons I can't explain, there are a few times when the action will be happening at a smooth rate, while certain other times it will flow slowly. The game also doesn't look as crisp like most PlayStation One titles are. Even the introductory and ending cutscenes, which are decently rendered in 3D FMVs (full-motion videos), have a certain detail which shows its age. But despite all that, the visuals aren't bad, and there are a few touches which are nice. Each time Glover takes damage, he will get a band-aid on him, and if a ball falls off an edge, it will reappear in Glover's hand with a band-aid on it. It's a cute touch. The water effects in the surface are also nice, but what's even cooler is how it is seen underwater. When you're underwater and the camera is completely submerged, the camera gradually tilts left and right and the colors change from oceanic blue to chartreuse and violet. That's a really unique underwater effect, if I ever saw one. So, overall, while it may not as visually stunning as earlier PlayStation titles such as Pandemonium!, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, and Spyro the Dragon, it's a game that I think is okay to look at.

Don't let these screenshots fool you, this is not a mindnumbingly easy game. I repeat, this is not a mindnumbingly easy game. It's not a deviously difficult game, either, which is a good thing, but even so, the difficulty is one of its low points for me. Now, the first time around, I had to keep the Help (i.e. showing buttons and what functions they do in various situations) on because I needed to get adjusted to the controls. On my second playthrough, I got through the game with the Help option turned off; unfortunately, any time you start or load a game, the Help is automatically on there, which can be a bit distracting for me. At first the controls can be a tad confusing, but after awhile they will become easy to accustom to. The main goal of each level is to reach the end with the ball, and in some cases it's not a problem, but in most cases it's easier said than done. Each level has obstacles which will impede the ball from passing through until Glover finds a switch. White switches can be pushed by Glover after he does a fistdrop attack, and red and yellow bull's eye switches can be turned on by the ball (there's only one of these types of switches which you'll have to rush to the end before the door closes up). Not only is Glover's fistdrop used to stun and/or kill certain enemies, but it can also be used to destroy boxes and break through ice. Glover's slow by himself, but by rolling the ball he increases a bit of speed. Other things Glover could do with the ball is use it as a trampoline by fistdropping on it, bounce it like you're dribbling a basketball (by pressing X while hanging on to the ball), slap it towards enemies and stuff (by pressing the Square button), and throw the ball, too (by pressing the Circle button). While you choose to do either of the last two options, you can choose where to aim the ball while still holding the button. The L2 shoulder button cancels any of these actions. Throughout the areas there are lives scattered about, and once you collect them you cannot do so again in these areas. Any time you collect all the cards in a level, you earn a life, but it seems to me that it's very easy to gain a lot of lives in this game. Especially during certain moments where you gather up many cards in a row. While it's not exactly mandatory to gather every single card out there, it is something that will keep you busy. Some cards are in covert portions of the levels, so search thoroughly. If there's a wall that looks broken, break it open with the bowling ball. Some of the bosses took me a bit to beat the first time around, but the second time around the majority of them were a breeze. When you return to the hub world and your health is not full, you can always have it refilled by approaching the bird character on a swing, who I swear sounds like it's both flatulating and laying an egg at the same time when you touch it (I don't even want to know). The various bonus levels after you vanquish the world's boss are nice, and they're nice to play. Basically they require you to collect as many cards as you can and reach the end before time runs out. Glover's camera is okay, but there are moments when you're on a narrow path when the camera will be positioned above you and you cannot lower it until you're off the path. Few times the camera finds itself fixed at just the oddest of angles. Yeesh, Super Mario 64 had more stable camera control than this. In the levels are also certain potions which will help you on your quest, but only for a limited time. A couple of these that come to mind are the Hercules potion, which makes Glover big and strong, and there is even a Rotor Blades potion which allows Glover momentarily fly.

It's got its few issues; the visuals are hit and miss (which is odd considering it came out in the middle of the console's lifespan), camera controls are okay, and the difficulty's a little so-so. But, for all the low points it has, the good qualities more than make up for it. The controls, which take a bit to get used to, are quite interesting and solid, and the soundtrack is done quite well. I like the various worlds' structures, and I like how such a concept was executed in such a fascinating way. I like the many different things you could do with the turret crystal, and how you change its form to not only prevent it from shattering but to also use it in certain ways to meet certain conditions. Exploring the various worlds' levels are fun, and trying to get all the cards is also fun. If you've missed some cards the first time around, you could always choose to start the level all over again from the hub world and get another shot at obtaining them all. I like replay value like that. I do wish I knew what was up with that blue bird's awkward sound effects. I haven't played the original Nintendo 64 and PC versions, so I don't know if they've made any alterations here or not (well, besides the obvious - Glover's mouth). After I finished Glover the first time, I looked up that the game got mixed reactions from gamers and critics, and I also looked up that the PlayStation One version got a negative reception from many gamers. So you mean to tell me that I got introduced to Glover through the inferior version? Oh, that's reassuring! But I don't mind, as I'm not going to let that taint my opinion on the game (even though I admit it almost happened the moment I looked that up). It's not a great game, but it's close. I researched that this game was slated to have a sequel. There were no hints in the game that implied that, but there was an internet poster (which looks beautiful, by the way) that parodied the first Jaws' movie poster. However, the sequel never emerged, and Glover was reduced to being a lone title video game hero.

Poor Glover. It's okay, we still love you. If you're interested in playing Glover, give it a go. I can't guarantee whether you'll like it or not, but I will guarantee that you'll find it a very unique experience.


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