The Game: Amoeba-like monsters spawn and grow in an enclosed space with moving platforms. Players control a very mobile cannon, tasked with the mission of destroying these creatures, or at least trying to keep their population under control. The newly-spawned creatures pose no threat to the cannon – they’ll simply attach themselves to it, slowing it down unless it can shake them off. But the creatures rapidly grow in size and change colors; when a creature turns red, it is capable of destroying the cannon on contact. The cannon’s shots regress the creatures into earlier evolutionary stages; firing on a creature that has been regressed to its newly-spawned stage will destroy it. Both the cannon and the creatures can hitch a ride across the screen – either to safety or into the jaws of the enemy – aboard the platforms. (GST Video, 1983)
Memories: Even if this wasn’t a European-only release for the Videopac – the version of the Odyssey2 that did better in Europe than the Odyssey2 did in the Americas – The Blobbers would be hard to find. Hitting the stores at the end of the Videopac’s life span, this nifty little enclosed-space shoot-’em-up got very little attention and sold very few copies, and as such few copies made their way into the hands of game collectors and traders. It was also an oddball release – a game that came ouput during the era of the Videopac G7400+ (the Euro equivalent of the never-released Odyssey3 console) but didn’t feature enhanced graphics that used that machine’s capabilities. It’s possible that owners of older Videopac machines didn’t know this, and therefore passed it up.
The Blobbers is actually good fun though – it’s not the fastest shoot ’em up ever made, but when fully-grown killer blobs are headed your way, slowly, from every direction, it might just be that the game’s real punch lies in its slow, death-march inevitability. Like the slow-moving space invaders of old (well, five years past, at the time this game was released), the game gains something from the slow, grinding approach of the player’s imminent death. That fate can be delayed, but never escaped. Given the simplicity of both the game and the graphics, which adequately convey everything you need to know about what’s happening, it’s hard to see what the G7400+ advanced graphics really could’ve added here that wouldn’t have simply confused things.
That slow pace, however, works against The Blobbers too. There are some apparent quirks that take some getting used to – for the player’s cannon, the corners of the screen are a no-fire zone, allowing the blobbers to approach unimpeded. It can get a bit frustrating, and maybe the corner issue should’ve been thought out a little it better at the design level.
Would The Blobbers have done well if released on the other side of the world? Probably – if it had arrived in 1980 or 1981 instead of 1983. There’s nothing else quite like it in the Odyssey2/Videopac library, and it’s hard to think of another game that’s a lot like The Blobbers on any other platform either. It’s graphical simplicity worked against it in 1983 (perhaps another reason that there aren’t a lot of copies of the game floating around), but then the same is true of most games for this system. The Blobbers is good, blocky, frustrating fun.