Creat Studios has me addicted with this casual puzzler splattered with a germaphobe’s greatest nightmare; Germinator is a new twist on an old favourite – bubble popping.
If this game reminds you of Puzzle Bobble, you’re not alone. The newest in the bubble-popping lineage, Germinator takes it to a whole new level with germs that not only stick together but merge. This creates a new level of play as physics comes into play, being able to push germs around the edge of a large round germ to join them – for example – and that’s only the beginning.
Germinator can be played in one of four modes; Story, Puzzle, Duel and Arcade. While the first two comprise the bulk of the game’s playable levels, Duel and Arcade have a much higher replayability factor. Their unlimited style of play makes for a much more challenging, and infinitely unique experience.
Story mode doesn’t contain much of one; but takes you through different levels of play and difficulty as you move through rooms in a house. There’s really not a lot of point to these levels other than that the items “drawn” with the germs in the levels conform to things you might see in that location (for example a backyard level has you killing germs in a fence-shaped enclosure). In each location there are fifteen ‘drawn’ items made of germs you have to eradicate. You progress through these levels by combining five antibodies of the same colour to cause them to explode and kill all the germs around them. The black gummy germs are the target while the rest (the antibodies) are the explosives. There are also sticky or bouncy panels that are present in some levels, as well as explosives activated by touch. These levels have a time-limit of sorts; the liquid level at the bottom rises every few seconds until you either destroy all the gummy germs and win, or a germ hits the roof of the container and causes a level failure.
Puzzle mode is much different than story mode in quite a few ways. Firstly, you’re given a pattern of germs that are trapped between antibodies in a challenging way. You have a limited amount of shots, and they’re not necessarily enough to just pop all the important bubbles. You have to use angles, problem solving, patterns, and tricks of merging to get the job done, or you’ll easily run out of antibodies before you kill all the germs. It’s a minimalistic approach, instead of the ‘shoot as much as you can’ approach the story mode has.
Duel mode lets you play against a friend or the computer AI, going to best of 15 rounds if you like. This is the same as story mode type play, only in split screen; the two small game play differences being that the popping of germs will drop black “gummy” germs on the opponent’s side, and there’s no “rise”. The AI can be pretty hard, so don’t expect to be winning in this mode right off the bat, especially if you choose “Germinator” as your opponent!
Arcade mode is an unlimited run of coloured germs and gummy germs, scrolling upwards as you try and explode them to keep them at bay. It runs as long as you can keep the germs from touching the roof of the container, so the point here is to stay playing as long as you can as well as to get the highest score.
The only real ‘powerup’ in the whole game is a simple one-use attack; if you full the meter on the left by combining enough germs, you can shoot a ninja germ that will ghost through all germs not of the same colour. This is useful if you have a germ about to pop but behind a bunch of different colours, or there’s a bomb you need to hit and no same colour germ in the way.
The controls are both touch and physical, so you can play the game how you want, which is a plus. There’s no platinum here, but there are twelve trophies and a ton of replayability to help you get them (especially if you’re addicted like me and have been playing it almost non-stop since you started).
Graphically, Germinator’s no Crysis. There’s no high end graphics or cinematic quality here; just germs and some simple explosions. It’s a simple game, and requires nothing special in this category in order to be great. Germinator is more about game-play than looks.
The sound here is another typical mind-melter, with music that’ll make your ears bleed and sound effects that get quite monotonous. This is one of those games you keep the volume down on – you know, like every game where you don’t have to feel like you’re in it to enjoy it.
Aside from the fact that some trophies are incredibly hard (as in zero percent of PSNProfiles owners even have them), and that multiplayer is local only, the only big flaw I could find with this game is the slightly high price of entry.
That said, it’s an addictive game with lots going for it. There are tons of levels across story and puzzle modes, and unlimited replayability in Duel or Arcade modes.