Bits and pieces
As a Northerner I don’t like to think of myself as tight or a skinflint, but if I have to spend upwards of £40 on a controller then I am going to use that controller until it dies! As such I have never played a PS4 PlayLink game, until now!
I will admit as a PlayLink first timer and as someone who has minor tantrums over loading bars, downloading the game on to my console and then downloading an app on my phone to then play the game felt like altogether far too much downloading. But I persisted and I’m glad I did.
Melbits World is a cute little cooperative puzzle-platformer which leaves you wondering who is Mel and what is so important about their bits?
As it turns out Melbits are brightly coloured blobby things that may, or may not be, animals, aliens or reject Pokemon, who knows? All I know is that after barely 5 minutes I started to refer to them as Kawaii Lemmings.
In a bit of a gameplay twist instead of controlling the Melbits you control the environment around them, safely guiding them from pipe to pipe. In fact as someone who has been playing far too much Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, this method of pipe travel is now making me wonder if this game is some sort of undercover escape mission from the Mushroom Kingdom.
Like Lemmings, these cheery blobby things bumble about a 3D environment coming into contact with various obstacles, including themselves, which leaves them gently rebounding off walls and each other until you start to move or operate the blocks, ledges, springs and pathways to make sure each Meltbit makes it to the exit pipe.
The controls are beautifully simple and rely on tapping on your phone screen or using its motion controls to turn and twist obstacles. However, with this game communication is vitally important, and despite its simplicity it can be extraordinarily easy to mess it up if you’re not fully paying attention to what your partner is doing or what the other Melbits are doing.
You might think for such an adorable game death would probably be off the table. Well me and my co-op partner managed to cock up a level so spectacularly that quite a lot of accidental Melbit genocide took place and I actually felt a bit ashamed. For some reason I accidentally killed budget Snorlax on nearly every level I played. He fell to his death, he drowned, I squashed him with a block, some weird pixel demon ate him… I still feel a deep sense of guilt.
At least I can share a little of my guilt as Melbits World is a co-op game. It supports up to four players and there is no solo campaign so you will need at least one friend to play.
I did initially think that using phones as controllers was a bit gimmicky and I wasn’t sure how the phone movements would translate to the game. It did feel quite odd looking from TV screen to mobile screen but maybe that’s just the wrinkly old Millenial talking. There were times when the controls were a little unresponsive and at times I did have to shake and rattle my phone around more than I would’ve liked, but for the most part they worked fine. I can also see this method of gaming being an easy way to introduce and induct non-gamers into games instead of intimidating them with dozens of buttons, triggers, D-pads and sticks.
It’s fair to say I was more enamoured with this game than my co-op partner who left me high and dry after a few levels. I suspect it was mild rage quit after he failed to rotate his log *lol* a number of times, but in the time we played it, we managed to unlock a few other Melbits and collect a sticker.
From the levels I played it was clear to see the incline of difficulty as new barriers, controls and enemies were introduced, so it would be nice to engage a few other willing victims to join me and see how complex this game gets. I suspect nowhere near Pipe Push Paradise levels of impossibility but enough to keep you entertained.
It might be too childish for some people to deal with. The chirpy happy squeakings can be a bit relentless, the bright colours a bit migraine inducing and the puzzles, despite some epic failures from me aren’t exactly taxing. Although if you are expecting some deep metaphysical puzzles with hard-hitting moral undertones, I’d question why you thought Melbits would be the best game to try!
With its Pegi 3 rating and cuteness and rainbows leaking out of every orifice it’s clearly designed with younger players and families in mind. But I could also see this as prime party material for all ages especially after a few beers. Please drink and Melbit responsibly guys.
Has Melbits changed my opinion of the PS4 PlayLink feature? I’d say I’ve moved from not interested to on the fence. I can completely see how this makes games more accessible for everyone, and that’s a good thing. At the moment though I firmly see these games as once in while party pieces instead of regular games, talking up all too valuable space on my hard drive and my phone.
Melbits World is an adorable, heart-melting puppy of a game. It’s probably too cutesy and simple for the hardcore cynics, but as an entry-level game for children and a party game for families and the big kids amongst us I think it’s absolutely spot on.
Budget Snorlax, we will remember you and your valiant sacrifice!
TBG Score: 7/10
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: 14/11/2018
No. of Players: 2-4
Category: Casual, Family, Puzzle
Publisher: Melbot Studios
Download link: PSN