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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gushing About: Glover

     If you remember this game, give yourself 10 cool points. I assume you grew up in a time where Pokemon was the greatest thing ever and Spongebob was actually funny. Glover is a pretty obscure game by good ol' Hasbro and is responsible for numerous nightmares and impacting my imagination. to find out how and why, read on below.

     This game is seriously dripping with nostalgia for me. I'm actually surprised with how many people know what I'm talking about when I bring it up. If the game sold well, why was the sequel cancelled?

     For the unfamiliar, in this game you run around as a tiny glove character with a magical shape-shifting ball and search for crystals to revive your Wizard Master. You also compete against the Wizards other lost glove who fell into a potion and became an evil mo-fo by the name of cross-stitch and has a haunting evil laugh that echoes through the blood red mist inhabited by bats and an ever-present dense fog that could be considered a character in it's own right. You know, for the kids.

I honestly though this was a statue of a monkey head as a kid.
Just glance at it and focus on the lower middle. The sleeves are the ears.
      So basically your homie is trapped, your brother is evil, there are a bunch of themed worlds to explore, platforming and puzzles are separated into levels, you'll need to keep a crystal that turns into a ball with you throughout the level, and you have to keep crystals from breaking in order fix the broken and dark world you were tossed into. Immediately the game's stakes are high and the objective is clear.

     That brings me to why I wanted to talk about this thing in the first place. It's memorable. When I discovered this game I had just gotten the hang over the whole video games thing. I played a few other games just before this one (Gex 64, Bomberman 64, and Yoshi's Story) and this is the one that made me notice structure. Immediately I knew the game would have themed worlds, I expected bosses at the end of each world, I predicted a happy ending where you revive the wizard and everything is back to normal, and I recognized puzzles then figured them out rather than giving up or dismissing them as impossible.

     This game was like a big review of  all the things I noticed video games had in common. It was also impactful because the story was told through an intro cutscene (even Bomberman only had a few of those) and was genuinely scary. I was immediately invested in the protagonist and the world because I was suddenly afraid and Glover was afraid with me. I didn't know how to play and Mr. Tip showed up to teach both Glover and me.

      When I discovered the creepy bouncing thing in the deserted carnival level with happy music, I made Glover tip-toe around it. When I discovered you could ride it, Glover was whooping it up and smiling with me. No longer afraid of ever stranger the game threw at us.

      And then years later came the cheat codes... I bought a cheat code book at a school book fair (along with Dragon Ball Z how-to-draw books) much to my parents' displeasure. I finally learned special pause menu inputs that allowed me to play Glover with the power of a god! Totally the best choice at the book fair. Sure they thought video games and drawing books were a waste, but look at me now right? Those skills and experiences made me into a game developer today.

     I knew the game had secrets because I noticed that you could press the C buttons in the pause menu to make fart sounds and burp noises. I was also getting suspicious about the bird on the swing-set in the game's hub area. you you approach the thing it hiccups and burps in a seemingly random way, but those were the same sounds you play with in the pause menu.

     Of course my favorite cheats became the disappearing ball and death spell. I memorized those codes and used them to completely change the way the game was played. It went from a cautious puzzle platformer to an action platformer and I loved it that way. There's something really cool about running around a bunch of themed worlds (pirates, haunted houses, Atlantis, etc.) as a wizard glove that shoots death rays and can do, well, glove stuff. Stuff like cartwheels, crawling on the ground like thing from the Addams Family, making a fist and slamming the ground, pushing stuff, and putting your palm against walls.

     It's all so random and much seems to do nothing for the gameplay, but I just had fun running around an "open world" and being a magical glove. You can't get that kind of weird experience anywhere else. Even now, over a decade later this is the only game where that's even possible. There where times I'd drop into the pirate level (unlocked via cheat code) because it felt the largest and most open of all the worlds. I'd splash around in the water, fight robot fish, and just have a good time. It was total immersion because I can practically feel the ocean breeze and droplets of water, smell the beach-side air, and feel sand shifting under me. It's so strange but it was really the first time I felt that kind of freedom in a game.

     That makes this my first open world game really. After learning the cheat codes I stopped caring about the objectives and just goofed off doing whatever. My game developer brain is telling me to make a game that fully realizes this concept but my business brain is telling me to wait a couple of decades before trying to tackle something like that.

     Glover was a game jam-packed with adventure and mystery. As a little kid, playing this was like being dropped into a strange new world with endless possibility. I had no idea what I was doing, I was pretty scared of anything moving or beyond the fog, and I was unsure of how much I would grow in power as time went on. That makes this game memorable for me. It left a strong impression at an impressionable age.

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