Ubergridder asks a question that many gamers would likely have never thought to ask: what if you put Pac-man in space? The first title out of indie developer Badger Punch Games answers this by giving players a unique puzzle type game that is imbued with the spirit of the little yellow eater but doesn’t feel like a fully fledged clone. The end result is a game which has a couple of minor hiccups but definitely provides fans of the genre with a difficult but fulfilling experience.
In this member of the Indie Games Winter Uprising, you are dropped onto a spaceship which is in dire need of repairs. As the trusty robot of the ship, you must repair the ship by tracing out each of the ship’s 10 grids in order to fix them. In the process, you’ll need to take care to avoid the monsters who want nothing more than to munch on your metal flesh. The presentation is quite clean and certainly won’t be winning any awards for pushing the Xbox 360 to the limit, it does suffer from one minor problem though. As your repair robot goes along, it drops orange goo to demonstrate that an area has been cleared. However, because of the thickness of the lines, it is possible that small areas are left unfinished when it appears that they have already been traced, leading to some confusion as to what part of the grid is actually unfinished. It is a small problem, but an annoying one when it pops up as time ticks down.
Another issue that nags Ubergridder is the enemy AI, which seems to lack Pacman’s level of sophistication. For one, there are a number of times where you will be close to a monster and they will seem completely oblivious of your presence. Similarly, there are times where one will be hot on your tail only to mysteriously go flying off and patrol the other end of the map after you turn. The AI has certainly improved since the update, but when combined with the opportunity to stall enemies using your unlimited supply of Monster Chew, it is still too easily foiled.
The last issue resides in the shape of the enemies themselves. All of the grids are broken up by straight lines that you move along, however, neither you nor your enemies is strictly rendered as a straight line. This means that even though you’re around a corner from an enemy, the extra space that they take up is enough to kill you. Add in a set of controls that shows the occasional hiccup and you have the recipe for a set of WTF?!?! deaths.
The possibility of needlessly losing lives is especially scary in Ubergridder because they are so limited. Much like Eminem, you only get one shot and one opportunity to complete all ten levels with the three lives that you are initially given. Extra lives can be earned by obtaining a certain number of points, but you are realistically going to be looking at five lives with which to complete the game. The extremely limited number of lives at your disposal gives every stage an air of importance.
By making every level important, Ubergridder elevates itself over being an okay game and into being a good one. The gameplay mechanics are a nice update on a classic concept but they aren’t executed flawlessly. However, the fact that you need just one good run through to add the game to your list of conquests will keep you coming back for more until it is completed. Ubergridder isn’t the best game of the Indie Games Winter Uprising, but if you’re in the mood for retro gameplay with an updated flair, it might just be for you.