Creat Studios, a boston located developer, is no stranger to developing downloadable titles for the PSN. Whether it was the brilliant puzzle title “Cuboid”, the fun RC racer “Smash Cars”, neat twist on the Breakout formula with “Magic Orbs” or the addictive “Wakeboarding HD”, they’ve got a great track record. Recently, the studio has released a new puzzle title called “Germinator”, for both the PS3 and PS Vita. It should be noted that this is the studio’s first foray into the Vita market. If you combined Bust-A-Move, Peggle, Dr. Mario and the Terminator, it’s essentially the formula for this game. However, is Germinator another great title to add to Creat Studios’ track record or is it a germ-infested mess?
Germinator’s mechanics are simple enough to pickup and play, but have a layer of complexity that adds to the game’s difficulty curve. During play, you’ll have a bunch of different colored germs scattered and stuck against each other in the area. Using the Germ-Away 3000, you’ll be able to aim with the analog stick from above and shoot a specific colored germ to the matching one. The more of these you match up, the bigger that germ will get until it bursts. There are non-colored germs that can’t absorb your colored germs you’ll be spewing out…and these are the ones that have to be cleared out entirely to complete a stage. By eradicating the colored germs attached to the non-colored ones, the burst effect will take out the non-colored germs that are attached to colored ones.
The mechanics become much more intricate when your Special ability comes into play. The more germs you wipe out, the more of a special meter you’ll fill up. When full, you can supercharge the germ you’re ready to shoot out of the Germ-Away 3000 into the appropriate colored germ in the area. This will inject them with a certain attribute that pertains to that specific color. Blue germs will completely bloat up the screen, destroying any germs it can get a hold of. Red germs will trigger a mini-explosion that’ll take out anything in its radius. Green germs will take out all the germs within that specific color, no matter where they are on-screen. Yellow germs will explode horizontally across the screen, taking out everything lined up near it. Sometimes colored germs will be underneath the non-colored ones. If you shoot a supercharged germ toward the colored germ that’s blocked off, it will pierce through the non-colored ones until it makes contact with the colored germs you’re aiming at. While germinating, the germs will steadily make their way up to the top of the screen. When they’re about to reach the top, an alarm sound will go off to indicate that you have a few seconds left to clean up the mess. Should they reach the top, it’s game over and you’ll have to restart the stage.
Germinator has several modes to play through. Whether you’re clocking in time with the 75 Story mode levels, 75 Puzzle mode levels, Duel, or Arcade, there’s a good amount to do here. The Story mode takes place amongst five environments, each with 15 levels. Each level actually takes the form of specific objects that would pertain to the environment (i.e. “Keyboard and Mouse” for the Office environment). They’re actually pretty cleverly designed. The game scales up in difficulty and will begin to test your germ-busting abilities as you progress. Puzzle mode changes up the style of a play a bit and has you being more strategic with your germ shooting placements due to only being allotted a set amount. Duel has you going head-to-head against the CPU where you’ll race to eradicate the germs on your end before they finish theirs. Arcade mode essentially lets you play endlessly until it’s game over. On the Vita, you can also utilize the touch screen to fine-tune your shots, but it’s strange that you can’t use the D-Pad for that ultra fine-tuning. The PS3 version will allow Move owners use their motion peripheral to aim and place your shots, which gives the game a faster style. Oddly, there’s no multiplayer mode to be found in the Vita version, which the Duel mode seemed to be a perfect fit for. On the flip-side, the PS3 version has both local and online multiplayer.
Visually, the game looks really nice and vibrant…which is a strange thing to say when germs are involved. In all honestly, Creat Studios delivered a colorful visual style to the germs that is appropriate. Certain colored germs have certain facial expressions and those alter depending on how many germs they’re absorbing. The game runs really smoothly for the most part, aside from the framerate slightly slowing down when the blue germ bloats the screen. Audio wise, it’s more or less what you would expect. The sounds of germs bursting and jingles playing when triggering something effective all helps add to the game’s atmosphere. Germinator’s grunts are quite comical when you complete a level as well. The music is limited but enjoyable to listen to while busting germs.
Overall, Germinator is a very enjoyable title that puzzle fans will get a good amount of entertainment with. Its charming aesthetic, vibrant visuals, appropriate tunes and pickup-and-play mechanics make it a solid title to own for your PS3/Vita.
Overall Score: 7.5 out of 10 = BUY IT!
A special thank you to Creat Studios for providing us a review copy for “Germinator”!