The 1990s were a wonderful time for 3D platform adventures featuring interesting characters, and perhaps none more than the animated glove Glover. The game, released towards the end of the decade, is a charming experience in which you control a magical glove and do hand-based things – yet, despite broadly popular reception, a sequel was cancelled and we never saw any more of Glover. That was the case, however, until earlier this year, when Piko Interactive released a remaster of Glover on Steam, as well as announcing their intention to finish work on Glover 2. With the glove seeing another day in the sun, I thought I’d revisit my own copy of the game on the PS1 and see how well it holds up.
As I mentioned, you play as a right glove, Glover. You reside with a wizard and the left glove, the game’s villain Glovel, in a castle, until the wizard one day makes a mistake with a potion – he is transformed into stone, and Glover is flung from the building. There are six magical crystals to collect, with Glover has turned into rubber balls, and he sets out on a quest to return them to the castle and save the wizard.
What this translates to is in part your typical platform adventure, as Glover is a walking hand who traverses the magical kingdoms, but it also features a unique mechanic that I’ve never seen elsewhere. As Glover is a hand, he can do handy things like pushing objects and punching, but the gameplay really becomes novel when he’s paired with one of the balls. He can manipulate the balls in a number of ways, from throwing them to walking atop them to dribbling them – the ball is many things, and you need understand its mechanics to successfully shepherd it to the end of the level (and that’s before we get to Glover’s ability to transform the balls into iron, crystal or other materials, as well as changing the size and toughness).
It still feels as inventive today
Now, it’s worth me noting that I only have the PS1 version of the game, and that particular variant was absolutely slated on release. The reason for this was almost entirely down to the graphics, which were perceived as considerably inferior to the N64 version. but from my perspective, it doesn’t look bad. It’s not noticeably worse than other PS1 games of the time, and I think that the charming visuals do a lot to mitigate any graphical stumbles. That said, there are clearly performance issues – the frame rate is slow at points, and the draw distance is almost laughably short, making some of the platforming far harder than it should be.
How well you get on with the game would, I think, depend on how you connect with the controls. The platforming mechanics are run-of-the-mill, but things feel very different once you have the ball. I was impressed with how realistic the balls felt – each one responded as I thought it should, making the puzzle elements of choosing a ball a very rewarding experience. But it can be a pain to navigate the ball around the level, especially as the bouncing mechanic seems to vary at points. There’s often a delay between pressing the button and the bounce actually happening, which is a pain as the platforming sections become increasingly tough and you need a better level of responsiveness. Once you get used to it, though, it works effectively, and you can blitz through some of the levels in a way that feels amazing.
I’m yet to play the remastered version of Glover (and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will come out on Switch too), but I think a little polish and some tightening of the controls is all the game needs. I was surprised at how responsive it still was, and it still feels as inventive today as when I played it as a child. I’m glad that, in a small way, Glover is making a comeback. Hopefully, if the love is there, we may even see future instalments (do I dare to dream?), because its unique puzzle-platformer nature is yet to be replicated, yet it could lead to some engaging gameplay unlike anything else. The box tells us that we “gotta love the glove”, and I’m happy to say that I still do.