Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
Year: 2013
Developed by: Sparpweed Games
Published by: Sparpweed Games
Platforms: PS3, PC, Switch
Feeling Like: Kyla & Henry

I don’t know how you’d play Ibb & Obb by yourself. Like It Takes Two, the experience entirely hinges upon your partner and how well you can communicate. Playing solo seems to inflate the difficulty beyond measure; we weren’t meant to communicate complex moves with just colored lines.

Looking at the discourse online, I seem to be in the minority camp of absolutely loving my time with Ibb & Obb, but it’s mostly because I got to play through the game entirely with my then-girlfriend-now-wife, Kyla. This was right up our alley; the titular characters were cute, but not too cute. She didn’t want me thinking we were ONLY to play games with adorable heroes. The controls and graphics were simple, which meant the fundamentals were quickly picked up. Above all, it fostered an environment of teamwork.

You can’t just have one person quarterbacking, something we find it annoyingly common in co-operative board games. The obstacles cannot be completed without perfect timing from each participant. This isn’t like New Super Mario Bros. Wii where you can have one savant fly through the stages and have the stragglers bubble their way behind. No room for passive play in Ibb & Obb. Let’s jump on 3! 1…2…

Much of the levels involve the screen being cut in half, as you can see in the above screenshot. Gravity is switched, so when you go through a white portal, you’ll be flipped upside down. This presents a number of challenges, primarily adjusting your brain to this new orientation. Secondly, being upside often means you have to remove an enemy for your partner before they can progress. It’s a quirky, but fun mechanic.

Gravity is as much an enemy as an ally. Hopping off each other, or using the portals to your advantage is paramount to ensuring you can scale a massive upside-down hill or avoid the spiky porcupines. As if you needed a reminder, you’re meant to progress together; if one of you dies, the other will instantly explode and you’re both back to square one. Thankfully the penalty for death is virtually non-existent which lends itself well to experimentation. We’d often pause at a new screen and fearlessly jump to our deaths, just to test something out.

Even if we were just standing there contemplating what to do, I was still having a blast. Kyla is much more analytical and patient than me, so I really benefitted here. I’d often be the first to waltz to my doom and then we’d talk it through – can we jump up there together? What happens when you go first? Let’s try this, let’s try that. The elation we’d get when finally triumphing over a tricky section was well worth any consternation.

Apparently we beat the game together when I was living alone in my apartment on Yates St. which really blew my mind, since I was certain we completed it in the first place we lived together, on Joan Crescent. I suppose after playing so many games, getting older and living in 6 different places in 10 years will jumble things around in the ol’ noggin. Regardless, the partnership and satisfaction I felt after playing Ibb & Obb with my favorite person in the world will not soon be forgotten.

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