Review – Glover (PC)

The Nintendo 64 is my favorite console of all time, and there’s a good reason for that: it was the staple console of my early childhood, the time I look back to the most. That’s usually most people’s answer whenever they’re asked about their favorite console, and why. With that said, I didn’t own that many games for it back then, for the most obvious of reasons. I was a kid and kids don’t have money. I had to carefully choose which game I’d get for my birthday or Christmas, for I’d be playing the damn thing for the next months on end. That resulted in me not playing a lot games released for the system back in the 90s, such as Glover.

Glover is the kind of Nintendo 64 game everyone knows about, but very few grew up playing. We, Nintendo Power readers, remember previews and articles about it. We were aware of it existing, but the damn thing came out a week before Ocarina of Time, two weeks after F-Zero X, and three weeks before Turok 2 and Rogue Squadron. Let’s just say that, for a kid in 1998 who owned a console running on stupidly expensive cartridges, Glover wasn’t a priority acquisition. It, alongside Gex, Rocket, Chameleon Twist, and many others, would eventually fade into obscurity, in the echelon of forgotten Nintendo 64 platformers. Glover wouldn’t return to the spotlight for the next twenty-four years…

Glover Character

The fact Glover has only four fingers deeply disturbs me.

Enter PIKO Interactive. This company lives and breathes by acquiring forgotten IPs and re-releasing it on modern systems. One fine example of that was their re-release of The Immortal a few months back. Glover is their latest revival, and I was morbidly looking forward to playing it. I’m a simple guy: I see anything related to my childhood making a comeback and I start feeling warm and fuzzy. That’s why I wouldn’t say no to attending a Backstreet Boys concert if they ever make a stop where I live. Glover is out now on Steam, so I was finally able to figure out what I’ve been missing for the past twenty-four years. Turns out, not so much.

Pay close attention to what I wrote: PIKO re-released Glover on Steam. Keyword: RE-RELEASED. They did not remaster it. Glover, for all intents and purposes, looks, sounds, and plays just like it did back in 1998, and that is the problem. Do you know why you didn’tt buy that game back in 1998? Because it did not score nowhere near as highly as other N64 games released at the same time… and those games have most certainly aged somewhat poorly, even if they were great for the time. Glover is what happens when you play a mediocre-at-best game for 1998 standards in 2022. It’s not the best of experiences.

Glover Story

Glover has a plot. It is not good, nor memorable.

For those unaware of Glover‘s existence, this is a 3D platformer where you control a sentient glove. The goal in each level is to carry a ball to the end, unscathed, without dying too much, as lives are limited. You can’t carry the ball on your (hand) back; you need to guide it by rolling it, dribbling it as if you were playing basketball, or throwing it onto farther platforms. You can also transform your rubber ball into different forms, such as a heavy bowling ball, or a smaller, floatier golf ball (at least that’s what I think that was, the graphics aren’t that good). Furthermore, you can also stand on top of the ball and walk on it like a circus clown. If you do that while on rubber ball form, you can walk on water, Jesus-style.

Glover Visuals

Look, Glover isn’t ugly for a Nintendo 64 game. It has its charm. But I would have appreciated some extra visual improvements.

This sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? I won’t lie, Glover has tons of great ideas. It just never manages to execute them in a decent way. This was released in 1998, a time when 3D platforming was still in its infancy. Controllers still didn’t have dual analog sticks and camera controls hadn’t been figured out by then. What hinders Glover the most is the combination of poor and floaty controls, a camera with a mind of its own, and really poor level design. I quickly got frustrated with it and started to ignore the collectibles scattered throughout them. I just wanted to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. The fact that you don’t get any completion bonus for collecting those cards, with the exception of a few extra lives.

Dribble

Don’t ask me how Glover is able to float around while dribbling its ball as if it was playing magical basketball.

To make matters worse, this Steam version of Glover looks and runs exactly how it did back in 1998. This is, by and large, a Nintendo 64 game running on an upscaled resolution and on a different aspect ratio. It still runs natively at 20 frames per second. You can actually alter the framerate by messing with the game’s files, but at the risk of glitching the hell out of it. The locked 20fps resolution didn’t particularly bother me due to being used to playing Nintendo 64 games at that refresh rate, but that might bother some people.

I will say that I enjoyed the game’s soundtrack a lot more than I was expecting. Sure, it’s compressed and MIDI as hell, but that’s part of charm of those N64 game soundtracks. Glover features tons of really good funky beats in its soundtrack. I cannot say the same about its even more heavily compressed and poorly mixed sound effects. What irritated me the most was the annoying usage of the main villain’s evil laughter whenever exploring the main hub area. I like the idea, I just hated the execution, as the laughter is repeated ad nauseum, with poor mixing to top things off.

I would also like to point out that PIKO Interactive has also included the original PS1 version of the game, which can be accessed by browsing its files. It’s a nice gesture, but I wouldn’t recommend playing it. If the N64 version is mediocre at best, the PS1 build is just downright terrible. It’s a ROM running on an emulator, meaning that there was even less care put into it. You’re playing that damn thing the way it was released two decades ago. Just don’t.

Gameplay

Glover is the kind of game that will be best enjoyed on the Steam Deck, with its smaller screen making the game’s dated visuals stand out less.

Being able to preserve games from a bygone era is crucial, so I do appreciate the fact PIKO Interactive has given us an easier (and cheaper) way to legitimately play Glover in modern machines, with the promise of actually releasing the long-lost sequel in the near future. That doesn’t mean I have to like the game, because even for its time, even for someone with a high level of tolerance for Nintendo 64 control and camera issues, this ain’t a good one. It might be a bit nostalgic to some people, perhaps even a bit charming, but play it for a bit and you’ll realise why you asked your mom to buy you a copy of Banjo-Kazooie or Rayman 2 instead of this game back when it first came out.

 

Graphics: 5.0

All it got was a resolution upscale. The game looks and runs exactly like it did back in 1998. You actually have to tinker with its files in order to improve its framerate, at the risk of glitching the hell out of it.

Gameplay: 4.0

The controls were bad for Nintendo 64 standards. They sure as hell haven’t aged well twenty-four years later.

Sound: 7.5

The soundtrack, as MIDI and compressed as it is, is much better than it has any right to be. Although, the sound effects are annoying, especially that evil laughter in the hub area.

Fun Factor: 5.5

It might be a jolt of nostalgia to some, especially those who grew up with the game back in the day, but Glover isn’t a very good platformer, even for its time.

Final Verdict: 5.0

Glover is available now on PS1, Nintendo 64, and PC.

Reviewed on PC (Steam).