The Terminator of Germs: Germinator Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita.
Do you hate germs? Does the idea of entering an unclean room fill you with crippling fear and reduce you to a sobbing mess? If you answered yes, then Germinator may be just the game you’re looking for!
Coming from Creat Studios and Zebulla Games, Germinator is a puzzle game which will prove familiar to those who have played Puzzle Bobble; it tasks you with matching various coloured germs in order to clean a selection of everyday household items. With four different modes of play – Story, Puzzle, Duel and Arcade – there are plenty of items that need cleaning, and only you have the power to prevent the spread of disease!
The first step that many will take in their role of Junior Germinator is the Story mode, which doesn’t feature a whole host of narrative twists and turns, but does feature 75 different levels for you to overcome, with three stars awarded in each (depending on your performance). Tasked with cleaning an entire house, players work their way through the Nursery, Bathroom, Office, Backyard and Kitchen, destroying hundreds of foul, black germs along the way. The various environments don’t affect gameplay that much, with the only real difference between them being the background decorations. They do, however, affect the types of items that you’ll be cleaning which, in turn, determine the shapes of the puzzles. For example, in the Nursery, you’ll need to clean a pacifier or bassinet, whilst in the Office you’ll need to sanitize a keyboard and mouse. Most of the shapes are instantly recognisable, but I bet you never realised just how many germs could be on a piece of toast!
The way Germinator works is thus: a series of black germs are laid out onscreen in a predefined pattern, with a selection of various coloured germs scattered around them. Using your launcher (located at the top of the screen), you need to match the various coloured germs from your launcher until they become big enough to consume the black germs around them. There are five different colours that you can use (red, green, yellow, blue and purple), and whilst they all basically act in the same way, with four germs combined being enough to trigger an explosion, each type of germ has its own special power that can be used by holding down the right shoulder button (R1 on the PlayStation 3 controller). For example, once you power up a green germ, and it grows big enough to explode, it will take out any other green germs in close proximity to it. Yellow germs, under similar circumstances, explode to the left and right, eradicating any germs at all in their path. Blue germs, on the other hand, grow exponentially, taking out any germs that they come into contact with.
The main aim of each level in Germinator’s Story mode is to remove every black germ from the screen before a single germ (either black or coloured) reaches the top of the screen. Time isn’t on your side though, as black sludge constantly rises from the bottom of the screen, forcing you to be on your toes at all times and requiring a deft hand and keen eye with the launcher. Unlike similar quick-fix games, such as Angry Birds, a level failure can very rarely be put down to mere chance, and quite often, you’ll find yourself blaming your own skills much more than the game’s mechanics, meaning that whilst Germinator is prone to inducing bouts of frustration as you struggle to overcome a particular level, it never really feels unfair.
The other modes offered in Germinator, such as Puzzle and Arcade, offer up different experiences based on the game’s mechanics and prove just as addictive as the Story mode. Puzzle mode, for instance, removes the ever-encroaching black sludge and instead limits and pre-determines the germs that you are allowed to fire, meaning that solid tactics are more important than a speedy trigger-finger. Arcade mode removes the black sludge from the bottom of the screen and replaces it will an infinite supply of germs working their way towards the top of the screen. This mode will be familiar to those who’ve played the increasingly popular ‘Horde’ mode in many recent games. It actually reminds me most of the ‘B’ game type in the original Tetris, where you need to break down an already existing supply of bricks. There’s no way that you can win in Arcade mode; the objective instead is to survive for as long as possible.
Aesthetically, Germinator is one of the more charming games I’ve had the chance to play recently, with the chattering of individual germs being particularly adorable, and the facial expressions that they pull (which feel as if they are pulled from rage comics) proving fairly amusing. On the PSVita, though, the sounds can come across as quite tinny, and both PlayStation 3 and PS Vita versions suffer from the same design flaw in that, at various points in the level, your square-headed guide will appear from the left of the screen and proclaim advice or observations in a giant speech bubble, which blocks almost a good third of the screen. In Puzzle mode this isn’t quite so bad, as you can wait for him to disappear, but when you’re up against the clock in Story or Arcade, you almost want to grab the Windex and eradicate him yourself.
You don’t see too many puzzle games of this ilk appearing on home consoles these days, with most developers and publishers preferring to launch them on mobile devices, a tactic largely preferred for the pick-up-and-play approach that is becoming so popular. Germinator matches this mindset well, with most levels taking around a minute to beat (or fail miserably at), and so it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Germinator on mobile devices at some point in the future, particularly considering that touch controls are already available to the PS Vita. As it stands, though, Germinator is a highly enjoyable and addictive game for the PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita. Aside from one particular design issue, this game proves nigh impossible to put down. Puzzle fans should definitely check this one out, and for anyone looking for something a little different, Germinator is worth a look.
Germinator scores 4.5 out of 5
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