Ooblets offers a good mix of monster collecting, farming simulation, and relationship building. However, this delightfully cool pill becomes harder to swallow thanks to the tedious, heavy progression that tests your patience in less exciting ways.
The adventure takes players to Badgetown, a quirky village where residents live in harmony alongside Pokémon-specific creatures known as Ooblets. Despite your newbie status, the townsfolk still look to you to restore the city to its former glory. That involves quests like reopening buildings and cleaning up trash, all while making friends along the way. In many ways, Ooblets feels more like purposeful Animal Crossing, appealing to me as someone who enjoys working towards tangible goals.
Checking your to-do list requires the help of Ooblets. These creatures act as partners and protectors and are numerous and rare. Although cute, some of their designs feel boring. For each legged jellyfish, there was an Ooblet that would best be described as a “mushroom with a smiley face” or “an ordinary bird”. Instead of catching Ooblets, you have to get their seeds, then plant one on your farm. How do you get seeds? By defeating Ooblets in dance battles, the humorous game revolves around turn-based combat.
Challenge teams of pits up to 6 cups against each other. Commands take the form of cards, adding an element of randomness. Many cards have a point value, and the goal is to play enough to reach the total value, expressed in meters, before your opponent. However, you can only play a certain number of cards per turn based on how many Beats (basically energy points) they claim. You don’t build your deck; instead, you have a permanent selection of cards to use with Ooblet that give unique abilities, thus determining your squad. One Ooblet burdens your opponent’s deck with useless cards, another focuses on weakening their attack power, while others enhance your card’s power by Create Hyper.
Despite the strategic elements, the dance battles are a walk in the park. I’ve never lost a single in over 30 hours of play and it never mattered which cup combination I used as the AI rarely plays aggressively. I wish the challenge battles challenged me more because they become an uninteresting form, especially in quests where you have to complete multiple battles in a row. However, I respect the combat system as a cute, non-violent introduction to turn-based combat for younger or inexperienced players.
Thankfully, much of the experience will take place on your farm. In addition to growing new cups, you also grow crops by plowing the soil and watering it. This has become my favorite part on Ooblets. I love designing my farm and brewing system to produce the most optimal crops possible (sometimes it takes days). It gets even better when you build tools to make the job more autonomous, such as automatic sprinklers. You can also assign more Oobles to your farm to take on responsibilities like weeding or harvesting ripe yields while you’re away, providing a good incentive to get as many of these little helpers as possible. .
Cultivating and gathering materials, whether plucking them from the earth, catching them from the sea, or recycling them from the trash, were key to Ooblet’s growth. Each of the main missions requires the player to deliver material packs, whether you’re restoring clubs in Badgetown, repairing hot air balloons to travel to new cities, or completing tons of fetch quests. . Having a little bit of everything on you all the time matters; you can’t even challenge Ooblets to a challenge unless you’re carrying a specific crop or a dish made from them. Running into new cups loses the excitement when they ask for a vegetable you left in storage, forcing you to walk back home.
The quests started to lose their appeal as I realized that they were the same, sometimes verbose, farming or scavenging exercise. This often makes it impossible for me to forget the meters and the clock, creating trails where I have to juggle a few substantial choices until an important resource springs up on its own or is replenished. In addition, these barriers to progress are sometimes exaggerated. A campaign mission requires me to grind hundreds of precious Gummies, the game’s currency, to pay an arcade hacker. Another job that constantly forces me to climb up and down a mountain path controlled by NPCs who can only satisfy their demands by returning home. There are some quests that are rewarded with Wishies, an extra currency used to upgrade, which is helpful but still not enough.
Other elements and activities are also not fully clickable. Running a store feels unnecessarily tedious as shipments can only be sold in single quantities, making redemption complicated. Doing chat rounds with the same group of citizens every day to build a friendship meter, thereby unlocking well-deserved rewards, has also lost its appeal. I started avoiding Dance Barn, which held prize-winning dance tournaments every day, out of boredom with the fight. Locations beyond Badgetown provide little incentive to revisit them once you’ve completed their campaign missions, other than collecting the missing cups. Because of how important eating is to maintaining your energy, a water meter for the day, and providing energy for many basic activities, I was annoyed at not being able to consume snacks. without entering the menu, even if it is already provided.
Ooblets delivers solid fun and I enjoy its cheerful tone. I just wish playing it didn’t feel like work. Despite his ranch pride, clearing the final checklist feels more strenuous than gratifying. There’s a lot of fun as long as you’re willing to work for it.