Blobz logo AGA

Reviewed by Andy Maddock

Blobz is a brand new product which landed on my desk a while ago. It came as quite a surprise, as I remembered the developer from a golf game which came out a few months back.

Anyway, Blobz is based around Lemmings. The idea is to help these Blobz from one side of the screen to the other... er, a bit like Lemmings. The major difference is the fact that there is a series of missions to complete like collecting crystals and various other objects.

The screen is set out almost identical to Lemmings. Before the actual game begins you can select a level, and after some disk accessing an overall map of the playing area appears, gicing you a brief but informative account of the task ahead.

The Blobz are really easy to control, as there are a series of actions listed along the bottom of the screen. The idea is to click on the action and then on your selected Blob for it to take effect. The actions range from jumping and firing missiles to drilling downwards and flying using a jetpack.

The first few levels are fairly easy because you only need to click on each Blob for them to hurdle over the obstacles. But, as the game goes on, you will find each level requires a certain amount of jumping, digging and flying. You need to have excellent timing and reactions when you play Blobz; if you're a split-second late, you may lose a life.

When you have managed to steer your Blobz to safety, you will be presented with a screen which informs you of how many Blobz you saved, objects collected, targets destroyed, skills activated, skills used and energy used. All these factors total up to give you a score. Oh, and don't forget, you have to get almost all the Blobz home to actually accomplish the mission.

After playing Blobz for a few hours I became pleasantly addicted and actually enjoyed it. The graphics are god, with some nice touches throughout the game, and the actual animation of the Blobz is nice too.

Overall, Blobz is an addictive game with truckloads of playability. It's just a shame that it won't be available in any shops - you'll have to buy it mail order. Still, it's nice to see that decent products can still be produced on the Amiga.

Get your game here

You can order a copy of Blobz from Apex Software for £14.99 by writing to the address below:
8 Gosling Gate Road
Sout Yorkshire S63 9LU

You can telephone Apex on 01709 890552 for any information regarding the game itself.

Blobz logo AGA

Any ground-breaking game is inevitably cloned. Even mediocre games are often cloned. Thankfully we can't do this to people just yet, so there's still one Andy Smith.

Blobz is Lemmings really, but with some other bits from games like Worms. I've got absolutely nothing against games that are like other good games - how many Amiga footie games are there? And therefore I have no problem with the fact that Blobz is Lemmings with some other bits from Worms.

Let's deal with the obvious graphic similarities between Blobz and Lemmings first - you're controlling small 'creatures' called blobz. They are a mere three or four pixels high and they move around 2D platforms.

Progress through Blobz is achieved by guiding your characters from the start, to the exit on each level - within a time limit. Of course, it's not quite as simple as that. You can't just let the blobz make their own way, because they have no brains and they will quite happily walk to their death should anything fatal appear in their way. So, to help them on their way you've got to assign certain skills to certain blobz. This will enable them to get over, round and through obstacles.

At the bottom of the screen is a panel of icons. Click on an icon, for example the one to jump, and the move your pointer over a blob on the platform and press a mouse button. Hey presto, the blob jumps. If you click on the dig icon and then a blob, the blob digs. I'm sure this must be terribly familiar to all of you by now.

To leave it there though, would be terribly unfair. There are tweaks and additions to the gameplay that you won't find in Lemmings. For a start, there are weapons which can be used to blow up obstacles (this is the bit pinched from Worms), which leads me nicely to a gameplay feature that Blobz has which Lemmings doesn't: as well as getting your blobz to the exit, you're often given a specific task to do, such as collect objects or destroy certain installations.

Apex have made life trickier I that you don't necessarily have the full range of skills available to you at the start of the level. Sometimes you have to pick up extra skills as you work your way along the level and invariably you're going to need these extra skills later on.

You'll often find that there are levels that require you to sacrifice some blobz in order to get the others to safety. There are also levels that require some quick icon manipulation as you attempt to get a blob to use a variety of skills in a very short space of time.

Thankfully Apex have included a slo-mo mode - you can slow down the blobz movement to a snail's pace, giving you a much better shot at getting the right blob to do the right thing at the right time.

The nasty thing about this slo-mo mode is that it doesn't slow down the clock. And this is probably my biggest problem with the game - the time limits you have are murderous and a few more seconds on each level would not seriously limit the game challenge.

After all, the joy comes from figuring out what you need to do to get the blobz to the exit, and not from frantically whizzing the mouse around the screen, as you try to select skills and assign them to your blobz.

There's a level editor included with the game, enabling you to construct your own levels and get your mates to solve 'em so when you've finished the pre-designed levels there's still plenty to do.

Apex have taken the basic Lemmings model and although they've added tweaks here and there, it's practically the same game. We know Lemmings is an excellent game - and if you're going to make a clone you might as well pick an excellent game to clone - but somehow this doesn't make Blobz an excellent game.

It's just too close to the original. The added extras don't take the gameplay any further than the Lemmings games have gone already and although it's novel to use weapons and have mini sub-tasks on the levels, the novelty wears off very quickly.

Even though Lemmings fans especially and puzzle fans in general should find Blobz entertaining, I think they are going to look at this and find it's all too familiar. Sometimes a clone, even a clone of a great game, just doesn't manage to instill the same amount of excitement as the original and that's exactly the case with Blobz.

I don't have a problem with games being cloned, and I can understand Apex picking a game as famous and as popular as Lemmings, after all if you're looking to publish a game in today's Amiga market you better make damn sure it's a bit of a corker for a start. As you'll have gathered though, I do have a problem with clones that are just too close to their parent. IF a clone's going to work, it's got to add and improve on the original. Blobz doesn't do that.

Blobz Blobz Blobz

Right lads, after me. All we've got to do is leap this vast chasm and we'll be on our way back to blighty. Mind out for the briny though chaps, it kills!

That's it lads, deep breath when the cursor's over you and we'll leap through the air with super-blob strength. Come on Smithers keep up lad - this is not a holiday camp!

Good work lads! Follow me, the exit's just up ahead. Mavis in the NAAFI's going to be pleased to see us I can tell you! C'mon Smithers, the teas are on you!

Blobz logo AGA

Price: £14.99 Publisher: Apex 01709 890 552

Not the most inspiring name for a game, but then look at Worms and how successful that title was. Blobz steals its gameplay style directly from Lemmings, replacing the suicidal rodents with green nondescript things decked out with tiny eyes.

While Lemmings' motivation for suicide is biological, blobs just don't know any better. If they walk into spikes or water they die, but there's no stopping them. A walking they will go, straight into trouble.

As can be seen from the screenshots the landscape types are not as detailed or developed as Lemmings, but Blobz is a Blitz program and so is a little more basic (yes the pun was intended) than the game it's based on.

The puzzles themselves are satisfying, if frustrating and they have been well thought out using the various 'skills' which you can assign each Blob. What you can't see from the screenshots is the smooth horizontal scrolling and the neat moving water effects and special touches.

While the platforms themselves might look basic, there is a good reason for this: a level designer has been included so you can make as many as you like, and it's simple to use.

You assign skills to each Blob like Lemmings. First click on one of the skills represented by icons at the bottom of the page, then click on the Blob you want to execute this skill. There is a rocket pack skill, a jumping skill, a reversing skill, a chomping skill (allowing your Blobz to eat horizontally through structures, unless a solid girder is in the way) several directional missile skills and a digging skill.

Not all of these are available on each level so, for instance, just when you're comfortable about saving Blobs with the reversing skill, it disappears on the next level. On some levels you have to pick up skill icons as you go along.

Th game is based on six worlds each mapped out like a maze and there are 60 levels in total. To get to the end of a world you have to negotiate your way around the maze completing the levels. Although it is possible to get to exit by completing maybe just 80% of these if you choose the right path, the ones you miss might contain valuable clues about completing later ones.

The amount of levels and the increasing difficulty means that this is not a fast game to finish. Add the possibility of infinite custom levels and you have a lot of game. A well recommended purchase.