Review: Ubergridder (Microsoft Xbox 360)

Ubergridder
Publisher: Zendarion
Developer: BadgerPunch Games
Genre: Action
Release Date: 12/3/2010

Oh, Ubergridder… sweet little Pac-Man clone. Only this little Johnnie 5 looking Pac-Man clone doesn’t have the ghosts… the wacky mazes… the cute sound effects… or, well, most of what makes Pac-Man so timeless.

Ubergridder is sort of lumped into that indie games bin of retro rehashers. It is a maze chase style game where your little robot has to repair grid lines instead of eating pellets. This means that your “maze” is a bunch of rectangles placed all over the screen. Set to some pleasant electronica music (Xerxes-Music), your little Robert, the maintenance droid, races about while being chased by one or more aliens that look like little Slimers from Ghostbusters. His goal is to repair a spaceship, which is conveniently placed on the left-hand portion of the screen, section by section and grid by grid. With ten different levels to conquer, Robert has to dash about and weld these grid lines up until space parts fill the grids signifying a fixed portion of the ship. The only defense you have against them is an infinite supply of “monster chew cans” which keep them busy for a short amount of time. Maybe they should have called it Johnny 5 and the Space Spinach!

Graphically this game is alright. You aren’t going to see any grand explosions, animation, or color schemes as little Robert scoots about the screen. The blah orange line that appears as you attempt to repair your grids just don’t seem quite as satisfying as seeing pellets disappear as you eat them. The random equipment that shows up as the grid is completed is rather droll as well. Maybe if the grids had animated parts where people were working, or laser cannons were firing, or kittens were playing, then there would be a bit more excitement graphically. Even the animation for Robert himself comes across as more of a $20 remote control toddler toy than anything else. Then there is the can of monster chew. This looks exactly as it sounds, odd. It comes across as an intergalactic can of spinach that you’d think the aliens would actually spend time chewing or eating or something. Instead, the aliens basically react to it the same way they do a wall… they bounce off of it. Sometimes the alien will pause at the chew, but don’t worry about straining your eyes to see if the green or red Slimer is getting some chow down animation going on, because they aren’t.

Control-wise this game is virtually non-existent. You use the direction pad and one button to release the “Ëœchew’. Thankfully Robert responds quick to directional changes because the aliens do too.

I’m assuming there wasn’t much of a budget in the sound department because aside from the music, there are few sound effects. Considering that Robert is supposedly welding these grids to repair the spaceship, you’d think you’d get a hissing sound effect or some comical alien growl as Robert gets bitten. Instead, you get nothing as the electronica music soothes this space repair job. To top things off, when the aliens catch you, there’s an uninspired “thump” with a massive “YOU DIED” graphic to let you know that you lost.

As replayability goes, I guess there is a slight craving to beat your own high score amidst the generic scores the game comes with. Don’t look for an online leaderboard or friends list on this one though.

The variety of the level design is pretty simplistic as well. Since the game is based on grids and filling them in, the variety of level boards is very limited. Don’t look for different sized grids to pop up or even other shapes to spice things up. Instead your board will essentially have holes in different places which make for small death traps in corners of the board where the aliens at times will hang out.

Power is probably what is missing from Ubergridder. Monster chew is hardly an exciting concept and at times I wondered if repairing grids was either. Still, there was something a bit satisfying about watching the grids fill up with space parts (for a spaceship I suppose), but I would hardly say that it was anywhere near addictive or appealing for much longer than about 3 stages. At times, it was annoying that visually a grid should have “Ëœfilled’ since the orange repaired line looked as if it completed the circuit. The alien “AI” seemed to work well though. Their strategy definitely adds a bit of difficulty to the game. At times, they’ll even hover about in areas that they know have few lines to enter or exit from.

In the end, Ubergridder can take a few minutes out of a stressful day of FPS shooters or open world roaming. For 80 MS points, this is a no frills arcade distraction that just might calm the common chronic virtual soldier… for a moment.

The Scores
Story: PRETTY POOR
Graphics: POOR
Sound: MEDIOCRE
Control and Gameplay: DECENT
Replayability: MEDIOCRE
Balance: DECENT
Originality: POOR
Addictiveness: POOR
Appeal Factor: POOR
Miscellaneous: POOR

FINAL SCORE: BELOW AVERAGE GAME.

Short Attention Span Summary
Ubergridder is an uninspired maze craze game (Pac-Man) with some pretty good electronica music to cool out to. Though ‘filling grids’ is kinda satisfying, the appeal fades quickly after a few levels of play due to a lack of almost any sound affects and pretty small characters.

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