Blubber Busters is an odd take on the story of Pinocchio and Monstro, but a welcome tail, regardless.
Dive into a sick space whale — the future’s premiere means of space travel — in order to clear out what ails them and get paid for the cleaning! Rudy, a janitor at one of the last Space Veterinary Centers in the galaxy, finds himself tasked with hopping within these weary whales and burning out the infections within with the help of his trusty flamethrower. Enemies, obstacles and platforming puzzles galore litter the innards of these creatures, but in order to prevail, it’ll take the help of others in your crew to heal each one.
In each level, you play as two different surgeons, each with their own abilities, but the two in the demo I played were Rudy and an additional character, Eva the intern. While Rudy’s flamethrower allows him to spin it around and throw a fiery blast in all directions, Eva’s surgical suit provides her more mobility — she can double-jump and dash — and her syringe claws allow her to break through hard barriers and break down enemy armor. You can switch back and forth between your two surgeons in order to solve platforming and combat puzzles throughout the environment and the whole experience is really smooth and makes regular traversal more entertaining.
The CPU, who is the AI in the facility, helps lead you through the story and provide tasks and information about each whale. Each whale has its own challenges, from full-blown infections that end in an epic boss fight to needing to restart their goo-riddled hearts by restarting pump actuators; each of these challenges determines what you’ll be tackling once you’re inside. Additionally, you have other members onboard the Center, who can upgrade your gear and provide you with additional power-ups for Rudy’s flamethrower and Eva’s syringe claws, including new special abilities. Cash that you gain from completed levels allows you to get a little something special for yourself.
Blubber Busters has an interesting visual style that pulls a bit from other styles here and there and makes it as unique as its action-packed, character-swapping gameplay. Every enemy, character and each set piece has a vibrant display of color that makes it pop from the intricate details of the parallax backgrounds in each level. Foreground details set closer to the camera give further depth, helping create the illusion of peering into this alien world. The stylized mix of 2D and 3D used together makes for a beautiful world without requiring the hand-drawn animation of rotations and such, but that’s not to say there is a lack of artistic expression: everything is hand-painted with a stroke that feels like traditional cartoon animation.
All in all, Blubber Busters provides a brand new experience, pulling from inspiration such as Metroid and Mega Man and offering its neat multiple-character system which offers additional nuances to the typical platforming monotony. The characters moves are fluid and responsive and their weapons feel powerful and unique to each surgeon. The music in Blubber Busters is a space rock ensemble provided by Chris Christodoulou, which may be my favorite part of the game. Each track is perfectly fitting to the gameplay and perfectly exemplifies what a space whale adventure should; lots of synths and epic guitar work that almost sound like an electric version of chiptunes, if that makes sense. Blubber Busters may have you saving these whales from within, but the fun-filled quick action and unique sci-fi premise is something your life shouldn’t be without.
Blubber Busters is currently raising money on Indiegogo. It is estimated to be released in early 2021.