Act: Dr. Blob's Organism [by Digital Eel]
Game Review: Dr. Blob's Organism
Release: June 2003
Developer: Digital Eel
System Requirements: Pentium II 350MHz (600MHz or better recommended), 64M
Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 6, OpenGL 1.1 compatible video card, DirectX
compatible sound card, 32M of free hard drive space
Price: US $10
I use the term "production value" a lot when I describe games. It is a
very key phrase when describing Independent Games because many Independent
titles lack the feel of a professional, store-released title. Certainly
with the large influx of interest in Independent Games, the professional feel of
Independent games is greatly increasing. Dr. Blob's Organism is a perfect
example. This is a game that has a very high production value. It is
wonderfully polished from the first flicker on the screen when you start the
game, to the beats of the background music, right through the credits when you
exit the game.
Dr. Blob's Organism is the kind of game that gives more credence to Independent
games. Gamers who check it out will immediately be amazed by how "cool" it
looks and how fun it can be to blast that stupid dividing blob. The only
problem is that I personally didn't really have any fun blasting away at the
blob. Despite my scientific background, and my great desire to finally do
something of real worth with a petri dish, I found a few flaws in the game that
ruined the time I spent in the laboratory.
believe I have subconsciously in my mind two cardinal rules for games. The
first is, do not make the outcome of the game based on luck. That is to
say, I want to feel like my entire survival depends on my ability to play.
I don't want to feel like that despite my best efforts I may lose. Save
the unfairness for real life. In video games I want the ability to get it
all right. It could take hours, but when I play flawless, I want to win.
The second rule is that the difficulty of any level should be slightly harder
than the previous level, slightly easier than the next level, and should not
cause me undo frustration due to it being unreasonably difficult..
Why do I bring up the two rules? Because Dr. Blob's Organism terribly
breaks both rules. In this game, you control a blaster that is pointed at
a petri dish. Inside the dish is a blob. The blob has one hope:
to escape the dish! Your responsibility is to blast away at the blob's
nucleus to kill the blob, while containing all of its slimy plasma inside the
petri dish. Each time any of the blob touches the edge of the petri dish
you lose a life. After you have lost 5 lives, your time in the lab is
ended and you get to start the level over.
The blob moves about extremely erratically, making it difficult to hit the
nucleus. In addition, you cannot at any time lose track of all the slimy
cytoplasm that is trying to escape or your lives will quickly be lost. The
blob also has a life that is shown on the right side of the screen.
Unfortunately you cannot just blast the blob a certain amount of times.
Every second the blob isn't being blasted it is regenerating its life energy.
Oh and it gets worse. Often it will regenerate entirely, create an
impenetrable force field around itself or divide into two blobs!
Thankfully you have a variety of weapons that become available to you as you
move forward. Spread shots, fast shots, and a nifty electric ray will
almost keep you alive in the game. The blob graciously releases these
power-ups intermittently while you are blasting it in addition to releasing
extra lives, bombs, and a slow down item.
Still, even armed with all of these items, the real key to the game is to blast
and spin the petri dish as fast as possible to keep the slime in the dish while
at the same time hitting its nucleus.
how does the game break the rules? First off, there is a huge luck factor
in the game. Whether or not you pass a level, when you get to the later
levels, had as much to do with luck for me as it had to do with skill. I
often could play the same level for 30 minutes or more. Each time I played
I hoped for the right power-ups to show up in the right order and for the blob
not to suddenly decide to go into a frenzy while it right next to the side of my
dish. Feeling as though it really made no difference how I played
the game gave me little reason to want to play it.
The second rule has to do with difficulty. This game is not for the faint
at heart. Those who consider themselves occasional game players shouldn't
even try. I've played nearly 100 different titles this year. I think
that this was likely the most impossible of them all. I don't think it
would matter how long I played, on the hardest difficulty level there is no way
to get through all the boards. Instead of providing a challenge, the game
puts you in a solid steel prison, throws you a wooden toothpick and tells you to
dig your way out. It was very disappointing.
Still for the hard core gamer, it provides plenty of challenge and as mentioned
before, this game does not lack for fans. You certainly could be the next
one. For the fast, but slowing on the trigger, you'll enjoy going through
the first 10 levels on mellow, but may wish for more levels like those when you
Dr. Blob certainly doesn't skimp on graphics. The graphics and design of
the game is superb. If there is one thing that you will enjoy in the game,
it is watching that petri dish spin around. Digital Eel has moved past the
strictly 2D they used in Strange Adventures in Infinite Space and the results
are wonderful. Each of the weapons is very colorful and carries that
"cool" factor that makes you excited to get a new power-up. The blob
itself moves in amazing ways, and the fact that it can be so quickly drawn on
the screen is at times a wonder.
From the campy, mad scientist's laboratory feel of the level selection screen's
track, through all 13 of the different music tracks you'll hear, the music is
perfect for the game and pretty good, though a bit strange, even standing on its
own. Sound is another area where the polished end product is so superb it
is hard to compare it to other independent titles as this is one is much better
done it leaves others in the petri dish.
Game Play: 6
This is where the game starts to break down. While certainly not bad, the
game play is far from perfect. Instead of allowing you the ability to
change how fast the dish spins, you instead have to adapt to the dish itself.
In addition, the split power-up has a tendency of throwing you off your groove
and will typically cost you one of your 5 lives if you accidentally shoot it
when you were fighting to keep the blob in the dish. As mentioned before,
often it feels you have no control over the outcome of the game. Even
perfect play won't save you if the blob decides to move erratically into an area
beyond your range. Far too often I felt like my best efforts were
While not really lacking in options, certainly a few more would have been nice.
The "manual" is certainly lacking, and the ability to change the spinning petri
dish would have been nice at a minimum.
Not actually originally, but slightly different then games such as Tempest.
Instead of moving your ship around to attack what flies at you from the center,
you instead stay still and move the petri dish. While that isn't much for
taking the concept into a brave new world, the work done around the game is.
The strange-ness that emanates from Digital Eel is enough to make anyone lift an
eyebrow. In this case it works fairly well, and I probably had more fun
reading the different level names, checking out the website, and listening to
the music than I had playing the game. Rarely has a game had so much
production put into creating a bizarre atmosphere and having it come off so
This is the other spot the game really broke down for me. I believe I'll
be in the minority on this one, but I really didn't enjoy my time playing the
game. On four different occasions I started the game and played for more
than an hour. Each time I left frustrated and upset trying to determine
what they were thinking when they made the game. Of the three difficulty
levels, only one provided a challenge that didn't consistently frustrate me.
I looked forward to the different power-ups, but found each level more of a
chore. I would play waiting for luck to go my way, and then start into the
next level wondering how long it would take for luck to strike again.
While the lightening fast game play certainly can lead to excitement, it left me
wanting to play another game that provided a similar type of game play, but with
a much more enjoyable challenge (such as Mutant Storm or Juno Nemesis).
I'm sure to take some fire for this one. There are definitely some big
fans of this game and I'm sure it will garner many more. It is very
inexpensive, a great deal at $10, and as mentioned before, the feel and look of
the game is everything you could possibly ask for. However, I feel that
there are a couple of big flaws in the game that become apparent to anyone who
spends awhile playing it. For those who enjoy spending countless hours
fighting against tremendous challenges that require amazingly quick reflexes,
and often large amounts of luck, I'm sure you'll find the game a worthy addition
to your library. At the price they are asking, you really cannot go wrong
either way, so check out the demo, and if you go gaga over the graphics, spend
the ten bucks and save Dr. Blob from the thing he created.Added: July 28th 2003
Reviewer: The Mole
Related Link: Dr. Blob's Organism's website
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