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Review: ibb & obb (Nintendo Switch)By Renan At 14.03.2020 16:51

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It's worth pointing out right away that ibb & obb is a strictly multiplayer, specifically two player, experience. Every single stage. from the puzzles, to the enemy design, to collectable placement, is designed with two players in mind, working in unison, often in-sync. Anyone seeking a solo venture, look elsewhere. Considering the indie scene's penchant for neglecting online, it's also worth mentioning that online play is fully intact here. The experience really is built around local multiplayer, as being able to speak to one's partner goes quite a long way, but it's excellent to see an online mode included, if only to ensure the title isn't couch locked.

Player 1 controls the green ibb while player 2 controls the pink obb, but both characters ostensibly play the same. They can move, jump, and… that's about it, really. As far as platforming goes, the level design emphasizes the core basics of the genre above all else - although not without its own quirks. It's made clear almost immediately that ibb and obb aren't the most vertically blessed platforming heroes. More often than not, they struggle to reach ledges that would be trivial to platform across in the likes of a series like Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog. This isn't a design flaw, however. Rather, it's a means of incentivizing teamwork.

Can't naturally reach a ledge? Have ibb hop on obb to gain some extra air. Another thing made immediately clear is the fact that this only works one way. In working together, ibb reaches the ledge, seemingly stranding obb, essentially having made no real progress; but in comes the true hook of the adventure: gravity. While at first glance it might look like ibb and obb are traversing a typical platforming stage, they're actually walking on one half of the level. Scattered across each one are white pits that allow ibb and obb to switch their center of gravity. In dropping through the white pits, players flip upside down, adding an interesting layer to every stage.

Of course, making progress once hitting a wall is never as simple as just finding a white pit. Rather, these two halves of the world influence one another, and multiple puzzles call on ibb and obb to somehow help each other progress while completely separate. ibb & obb seems to present itself as a team-based platformer at first glance, but in reality it's more of a co-operative puzzler. If ibb is topside with no way to progress, that typically means the player controlling obb needs to figure out the next course of action upside down. Sometimes it's as simple as knocking out enemies that would kill ibb topside. Appearing as black blobs when dangerous, enemies always come with a white weak spot mimicking their movements on the other side.

As the adventure progresses, however, it no longer becomes possible to defeat enemies as easily - occasionally forcing at least one player to platform through enemy littered areas at least once before being able to take them out. While only one player typically needs to get through the harder set pieces to make permanent progress, these challenges still require decent reflexes and a keen eye for enemy patterns. Interestingly, momentum ends up playing a key role in a good chunk of the more memorable puzzles. Along with the white pits, there are yellow bounce pads ibb and obb can activate. Have one character stand on the pad, and then jump on it with the other. Depending on where ibb or obb jumps from, they'll push their momentum into their partner, shooting them into the air. Later pad puzzles even require players to move to a new pad, while their partner is in the air so they can keep trading momentum across a linear space - usually to reach new heights.

At times it isn't always obvious how to progress, so it's important to always pay attention to what's happening on both halves of the screen. By the second half, in particular, stages start throwing real brain teasers at you, requiring both an astute observation skill and creative experimentation. ibb and obb can't do a lot themselves, but all that means is players have a limited, but dedicated, tool kit they can play with at all times. In that regard, while the difficulty ramps up, anyone can comfortably pick up a controller and enjoy the experience on a mechanical level. Beyond its accessibility, ibb & obb is an incredibly atmospheric deal, one that's relaxing during even its most challenging puzzles. Coupled with a whimsical score and soft, pleasant visuals, ibb & obb is an excellent co-op experience to share with a friend.

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Final Score
Endlessly delightful, with a keen eye for creative puzzle design and brisk pacing, [i]ibb & obb[/i] is a must play for all co-op lovers out there. A strictly two-player adventure, each stage manages to pair natural teamwork with momentum-paced puzzle-solving, and thought provoking platforming segments that frequently make great use of the title's unique center of gravity. The rising difficulty curve in the second half can be potentially discouraging, but the core controls are simple enough where quite literally anyone can pick the puzzle-platformer up for the first time and quickly understand how to interact with the world. Complete with an online mode, plenty of levels, and excellent presentation, [i]ibb & obb[/i] belongs on every Switch owner's console.

8

/10

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