glover6This is a 3D platforming game from the late-nineties about an anthropomorphic glove, and its ball. They don’t get any more abstract than this. Considering, though, that two of the best and most popular 3D platforming main characters were a plumber with various magical caps, and a bear with a red bird in its backpack, the outlandishness of Glover‘s protagonist is, strangely, neither here nor there.

Glover is such a different game from your standard late-nineties 3D platformer because its fundamental game-play concept revolves around coordinating yourself with, and balancing yourself against your only tool–a ball–which is both indispensably useful for your cause, but incredibly dangerous. The player, as Glover, must bounce, throw, and roll this ball in order to manipulate the game environment and solve puzzles. What makes performing these actions so innovative is that the physics of this undertaking in Glover is so realistic. When the player stands on top of the ball, the controls become inverted. When Glover’s ball is thrown or bounced against a surface, it bounces away from it along a realistic trajectory. At the touch of a button, you’re able to transform the quality of your sphere, which can make it lighter or heavier, more or less elastic and so on. After coming to master these basic ideas around which Glover was based, the player should start to feel like they’re not so much struggling to master and dominate an inanimate object, but beginning to enter into a partnership with a silent and uncommunicative, but nonetheless willingly cooperative second character.

Glover (E) (M3)The unusual nature of working with a ball to explore and interact with a 3D platformer might place the player on a steep learning curve at first, but it manages to open up a strange and interesting new perspective through which to view what might have become a stale and boring game genre. The player is sure to have never seriously thought about just how complex it really is to transport themselves up some stairs, or about coordinating themselves up and around a series of simple slopes. The added difficulty is definitely palpable, but with Glover, a large, varied, and endlessly useful move-set is at one’s disposal. Glover’s ball is a means for such things as reaching distant items and straddling high perches, destroying walls, floating on water, defeating enemies, and providing a speedy escape to tight situations. The incredible number of things that Glover‘s developer has managed to enable the player to do with this ball is pretty damn clever.

glover2While glimpses of this kind of game-play can be seen in games such as Super Mario Galaxy, the nature of Glover as a 3D platformer takes on a completely different character to other games in its genre due to its total reliance on bouncing, rolling and throwing. Getting coordinated with Glover‘s ball-based mechanics can at first be difficult, but mastering it will lead to very satisfying game-play.

Game-play aside, the game’s visuals are colourful and appealing, and it seldom suffers from any frame-rate slowdown or texture clipping. The game’s textures themselves are simple, but they work together harmoniously to show off a well-constructed atmosphere. Glover‘s worlds are incredibly abstract, but satisfyingly coherent, and never shallow. Levels are frequently large, and the N64’s draw-distance (Z-buffer) limitations are ‘concealed’ with copious amounts of fog. This is a bit disappointing because you might find yourself wanting to look beyond the immediate puzzle at hand and give yourself some bearing–and being unable to do so. Other than that, Glover manages to exploit the features of the N64 reasonably well.

glover5 If you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t given Glover a spin. If you have, and think Glover‘s not really worth anyone’s time, then you haven’t really been responding to what it’s asking you to do. In many places it will be challenging your hard-wired platforming sensibilities very aggressively.

With so much to offer at dirt cheap prices on eBay, you don’t have anything to lose–and so much to gain!–by picking up a copy of Glover.