Fibble: Beautiful, Beautiful Fun

Fibble hits all of my positive points for what I like in an iPhone game. First, it’s fun. Second, it’s pretty to look at. Third — and arguably the most important — the controls are simple and easy to use. In that sense, it’s perfect.

But there are more subtle things that I look for in a game that aren’t just part of a large checklist that I create arbitrarily on the go. Is Fibble the type of game that you’d like to play, or is it just a fly by nighter? Turns out, it’s not just another Angry Birds, it’s a potential successor.

The Concept

You’re this cute little alien named Fibble, and on a jaunt across space in your flying saucer, you end up hitting a rogue soda can (expelled from the International Space Station, naturally) and crashing to the Earth. As you’re about to hit the ground, your friends hit eject in their own little pods and land in separate portions of the house. It’s your job to find them by navigating through this strange land.

Sure, this is from a cutscene, but the graphics are consistently killer throughout.

Sure, this is from a cutscene, but the graphics are consistently killer throughout.

Thing is, you’re really little. As a result, what looks to normal people like a kitchen is several world’s worth of travel space, which gives you plenty of room to have missions. And since you don’t have legs, the only way you can get around is to propel yourself forward, rolling down corridors and tracks to collect coins and stars. Once you’ve collected as many as possible, you enter a pit and the level is complete. On to the next guy!

Mechanics

When I first described this game to a friend of mine, he responded, “Oh, so you flick Fibble just like in Angry Birds.” No, that’s not really how it works. “So then he’s a pinball character kind of like in Sticky Sheep.” Nope, that’s not really it either. It’s kind of a mix between the two.

Pull back and let him fly.

Pull back and let him fly.

To move Fibble, you pull back behind him with your finger. The further you pull back, the faster he goes, and there are little arrows on the ground that help keep you moving if you should slow down (there’s also a tilt mechanic whereby you tilt your iPhone to move him, but it’s only for very short distances). But what makes this interesting is the scoring system. It wouldn’t be a big deal to just flick your way through the game if you had an infinite number of flicks, but to get the gold, you have to navigate through the entire puzzle using just one initial pull. From there, it’s all about adding momentum any way you can.

The Friend Dynamic

After you’ve bounced your way through the first level or two, you stumble into the first one of your friends from the crash. Each of the friends you find along the way has a certain talent, be it making you roll faster or propelling you up into the sky to reach higher obstacles. As the game progresses, you’re given a certain number of these friends to place, and the game board is dotted with large green Xs to designate their spots. Which character you put on which X though, is up to you.

Look who found a buddy!

Look who found a buddy!

The longer you play through the game, the more friends you’re going to find, and therefore the more you’ll have to use on each course. Eventually, things start to get pretty complex, with more Xs than characters and so many different combinations that you may have to run through the course a few times just to try to get it right. It’s this complexity that makes the game fun.

Challenging Courses

In Angry Birds, you’re limited to the laws of Angry Birds physics and what ends up falling in what specific spot. There have been many times that I’ve been playing and hit a block identically in two different scenarios and watched it fall in different directions. As a result, your score can vary widely, and sometimes it seems like getting to the elusive three-star score is almost impossible. Not so with Fibble.

And it gets even harder than this, too.

And it gets even harder than this, too.

You’re told from the outset of each course what you need to do to get a gold, silver or bronze medal. Usually it’s go through the course, get X amount of points and do it all on only one flick. Sometimes there are more complications, sometimes not, but you always have something to reach for if you want to clear the course perfectly every time. That alone makes the game more enjoyable for me than Angry Birds, and also helps with replayability.

The Verdict

It’s time for the big decision: Should you buy this game?

Between the beautiful graphics that look stunning on the Retina display, the complex gameplay that’s somehow still simple enough to pick up and play when you want and the fun nature of the concept, Fibble is just one of those games that you don’t want to put down. Plus, the developers have a teaser level (a tree house) built in as well, so it looks like there are expansion packs on the way. The only downside — the in-app purchasing that’s present in the game — isn’t even close to required, as dedicated gamers can pick up most of those items themselves in the course of playing.

So should you buy it? Yes. Yes you should.


Summary

Flick a microscopic alien across a home to find his friends.

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