This review is written by Dante Mathis.
Hasbro is a company best known for making the toys and board games of our childhoods. However, for a brief bubble in the nineties, Hasbro had an entire division dedicated to video game development, and it lasted five years afloat, and one year in struggle before an inevitable buyout. During their half decade in the gaming industry, they managed to publish over 160 games, many of which were video game ports of board games, or remakes of earlier arcade games such as Galaga, Pac-Man, and Frogger. However, in the list of games published by this obscure publisher, one of them echoes powerful memories for me, and still resonates to this day as one of the most creative titles not only by this publisher, but indeed on the Nintendo 64 platform as a whole. That game was Glover.
Glover first hit shelves on the Nintendo 64 in October of 1998, and received a PlayStation port around a year later in both North America, and Europe. The game received very mixed reviews, and I’ll be the first to admit it’s far from perfect. The controls are rather stiff, and certain worlds cartoonish themes can sometimes appear either over saturated, or at times even disturbing in their imagery.
The story is quite creative, if not very simple, and reminiscent of a fairy tale. In the Crystal Kingdom, a wizard rules from the Crystal Castle, in which the life force of the world is produced by seven crystals atop the Castle spires. The Wizard is accompanied by two conscious, sentient gloves who aid him in the creation of his magical potions. When he mixes a lethal concoction, the resulting blast turns him to stone, and sends his gloves flying. One lands safely out the window, while the other lands into the cauldron and is warped into the evil Cross-Stitch. With the explosion rocking the crystals from their spires, the recovering and unaffected glove casts a spell on the crystals, turning them into rubber balls to prevent them from shattering. Six of them wander into the various worlds, where they are quickly possessed by the Boss character of said world.
The final of the seven crystals becomes Glover’s ball, which is his greatest tool. With it, he can roll atop it, cross bodies of water, roll, bounce, dribble, slap, and use it as a trampoline. Without the ball he moves slower, yet can still jump, double jump, ground pound, and cartwheel. Along with this, if you ever dread the slow paced game play of being without the ball, Glover has an instant ability to locate the ball regardless of where it’s wandered to. The ball also has the capability of shifting its very matter, from a rubber ball to a bowling ball, to a marble, and back to it’s normal crystalline state.
With six playable worlds, and three levels, a boss and bonus level in each world, the game manages to fit a decent amount of variety, even if many of the levels follow a particular theme established by the World it takes place in. The levels move in a fluid structure, after beating one you move onto the next without returning to the main hub, which reduces time and repetitive trips through the over world. From Atlantis to the Circus, and the Haunted Mansion to the Treasure Island, the game fits an array of puzzle solving mechanics into what seems like a relatively small experience. Not quite the scope of Super Mario 64, and not quite the collect-a-thon of Banjo Kazooie stature.
The game will have the player aiming, throwing, smacking, and bouncing around to land on different styled buttons and targets, guiding yourself through a world which is strangely unique, and an interesting stand-out in the Nintendo 64 library.
The game saw a release on Sony’s PlayStation, however it was unable to achieve such a fan base as many other notable franchises, and thus the Glover series begins and ends with this one installment, a simple, fairy-tale styled story, forever enclosed within the pages of its own narrative. It begins droll, red-skied, and with a post apocalyptic theme, yet by the end of the game, the grass has regrown, and life has returned to the magical world you’ve dug yourself through. The ending truly makes you feel as though something has changed, literally the entire hub world has become lively, and beautiful. It may not be the most popular Nintendo 64 game on the market, but I’d highly recommend it, and I still pop this faithful creature in to this very day, if not just to show friends and loved ones how ridiculous the late nineties were in the video game world.
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