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Glover – N64

Glover – N64

Glover_Nintendo_64_cover_art,jpgPlatform: Nintendo 64

Developer: Interactive Studios

Publisher: Hasbro Interactive

Release Date (NA): October 31st, 1998

Genre: Puzzle, Platformer

Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10

Glover

We’re not talking Danny Glover. Not talking Crispin Glover. Not even Donald Glover. Just straight up Glover!

Glover is something of a forgotten gem. Sure, it’s not obscure in the same way 40 Winks is obscure, or even Tonic Trouble. And it’s certainly not in short supply – copies can be found cheap and easily, sometimes tagging along in an N64 lot as a cart you will most likely overlook. It’s not a game you usually hear about, nor does it receive much attention. Often it is cast aside with all the other throwaway sports titles. But next time you see a group of N64 games and Glover is in the bunch, perhaps you should consider picking it up.

Now, what is Glover, you may ask? Why, he’s a glove of course!

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 4.25.24 PM

What else could he be?

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 4.22.42 PMGlover is the result of a spell gone wrong. Inside the Crystal Castle (no, not the band, nor the old arcade game) lived a good wizard who accidentally mixed the wrong ingredients together in a vat. The resulting explosion turned him to stone and jettisoned both his magic gloves. One remained good, but the other fell into the evil concoction and, well, he certainly didn’t become a gardener, I can tell you that much.

The good glove and our hero, Glover, witnessed all of the castle’s crystals falling from the explosion. In an effort to prevent them from shattering, he quickly used his magic to turn them into rubber balls. Each one rolled into a different portal, so it is your quest, as Glover, to explore six mysterious lands, retrieve the rubber balls, guide them out safely, and return them to their proper place in the castle. Failure to do so will result in the standard “end of the world” scenario or something to that effect.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 4.25.53 PM

Brilliant!

I love the concept of Glover. You’re a magic glove who has to find these mystical crystals in the form of rubber balls and restore their placement in the castle. Your objective makes a lot of sense, and it’s far more involved than most other retrieval missions where you simply have to collect an item or treasure. The goal is not just reaching the end, but rescuing and protecting an object that also factors fully into the gameplay mechanics.

The ball is needed for puzzles, switches, floating on water, and a variety of other moves, making it more than a simple MacGuffen. What a novel game this is!

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Some switches require the ball for activation

So the idea is there. What about the overall experience? Is Glover a good game?

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 5.32.26 PMGlover’s gameplay is as clever as the concept behind it. Think Super Monkey Ball; if you like that game, then you should enjoy Glover. It offers a healthy amount of tight maneuvering, much in the style of Super Monkey Ball or Marble Madness, where balance is key and falling off platforms is to be expected.

There’s far more to it, though. While you won’t be without the ball for long, you can at any point jump away from your spherical buddy, giving you a different type of experience. Sometimes you’ll need to roll the ball, doing your best to negotiate around enemies and hazards, and other times you’ll want to go solo, clearing the path of hostiles and collecting items where rolling may be too risky or difficult.

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Your attack. Gives an entirely new meaning to “fist bump”

Whenever Glover is sans ball, not only is he much easier to control, he is capable of jumping, performing a double jump, and attacking (turning into a fist and slamming his enemies). Plenty of opportunities will encourage you to run around on foot, depending on the situation or puzzle you face.

With the ball, Glover has a few different moves and control setups. This is where the physics really shines. Rolling the ball is your primary means of travel and will feel way different from running. At times it will be challenging – frustratingly so – to guide the ball, but it’s fun, and you’ll be a better person for seeing it through. Trust me.

Pressing the “L” button or landing in water (depending on the ball’s form – more on this in a moment) will put Glover atop his round companion. Unless you’re playing on the easy setting, controls here are reversed because he runs forward, causing the ball to roll in the opposite direction. If you are used to an inverted setup, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you are not, it will be a pain in the ass at first; however, you will get used to it as this mode of travel is frequently explored over the ample bodies of water presented throughout the game’s stages.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 6.30.37 PM

You can also perform a bevy of tricks with the ball, such as slapping, tossing, lobbing, and bouncing. The bouncing mechanic is another challenging means of maneuvering and done improperly can really screw you up. Still, it offers a fresh avenue of transportation to a game where varying physics is one of its many graces.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 6.33.08 PM

Bounce Glover, bounce!

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Transforming the ball back to its original crystal form

Being a magic glove, Glover is able to use potions to extend his inventory of abilities even further. Spells range from strength, to speed, to flying, to morphing enemies into frogs, and more! And with his innate magical abilities, Glover can change the ball from bouncy rubber to heavy bowling ball, to small/magnetic steel, to its original crystal form. Each variation has its own physical properties, which comes into play depending on the situation at hand. Just remember, the crystal is delicate, will break easily, and should only be used if you want to double your points when collecting Garibs (the magical cards earning you extra lives for 50, and bonus rounds for collecting all).

So I’ve touched upon controls, but allow me to go a bit further. For the most part, the difficulty in commanding your hero and the rubber ball is a natural part of the game’s mechanics. Even so, the controls do at times feel a bit dicey. This could be in part due to the N64 analogue stick’s rigid and narrow design, but I cannot be sure as I haven’t played the PlayStation release of Glover (which is supposed to be god awful).

There are certain peculiarities in the manner of your special moves that are a little inconvenient. For example, if your timing is off while bouncing, you will halt in the middle of the air, settling into position to toss the ball. This is an intentional ability, of course, but it makes the ball bounce a little trickier than you’ll feel it should be. The flying and projectile potions are difficult to execute as the former controls terribly and the latter has some finicky aiming.

All in all, the handling is what it needs to be for this type of game, and the many different ways of moving will constantly keep you on your toes.

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Flying is not as easy as it looks…

The amount of detail in Glover is impressive! The graphics for its time are good, and to top it off you’ll notice some nice touches implemented throughout, such as a change in scenery as you recover more crystals, realistic physics with the ball bouncing in its different forms, and even snow gathering on the ball in the ice world!

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The rubber ball beginning to collect snow. The ball will grow larger and more opaque as snow accumulates

Glover is a tough game. You are faced with the challenge of narrow platforming, all while protecting the ball. If the ball is hit three times, it pops. Glover takes three hits and he’s dead. It’s frustrating. Real frustrating at times. Sometimes you’ll just want to hurl your entire setup into a wood chipper. After realizing this gesture is not only over the top but completely unnecessary, you calmly give it another go. The struggle here is not an impossible one, nor based on flaws in design. Rather, there’s a learning curve; once you master the controls and gameplay, completion becomes very doable.

The one real complaint I have is the camera. It’s fairly limited and counterintuitive. From my understanding, this is a common problem amongst first generation 3D games, especially those for the N64. Perhaps PlayStation gave us a Glover with better camera controls.

Psyche!

So, let’s talk about the music for a second. It’s jaunty, whimsical, catchy – and very much of its time. Not to say that’s a bad thing, but you know, it does sound much like a late-90s N64 game.

What can I say?

It fits the world of Glover, which is also a world belonging to a bygone era of N64 titles. A lot of those games are very distinct in their style and feel, but still, this one stands out for its charm and clever premise/execution.

Overall, Glover is a great game. The concept was nurtured from idea to finished product with much love. And it shows. It’s packed with tons of unique and disparate elements, keeping the challenge fun and fresh at every turn. Glover and the world he inhabits are cute and colorful. He’s an odd, eccentric little hero packed with personality. Every time the ball is destroyed and he points in its direction whaling in agony, your heart breaks a little.

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Now’s the time to stop ignoring Glover and just pick it up. It’s an affordable gem with hours of fun waiting to be had.

Written by ZB

ZB

Since the tender age of four, I have been playing video games to occupy my free time. Raised on Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I have an extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for the classics. Also an avid collector, I have accrued such consoles as the Atari Jaguar, Super Famicom, Odyssey 2, Sega Nomad, just to name a few.

Got any questions, comments, concerns, or threats? Feel free to email me at zb@nerdbacon.com. I am happy to hear your feedback!

 
 

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4 Comments

  1. Steroid Gamer
    Steroid Gamer says:

    I played the hell out of this game back in the day. I agree that it is underrated.

    It’s probably overlooked because of how glitchy and broken it was. So many bugs were in this game, but luckily they just made the game easier instead of harder.

     

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