Game Review: Oblido (Commodore 16 and Plus/4, Mastertronic)

Oblido, Commodore 16 and Plus/4, Mastertronic - 2C0120
  • 7/10
    Score - 7/10


An intriguing twist on the popular Sokoban type puzzle games, Oblido adds the element of increased panic with the sinners attempting to stop you getting the counters back to their relevant homes, and removing them becomes almost as important with time of the essence.  It is a very solid strategy game all round and it was also one that my sister particularly loved at the time.  One for you to try out if you like a frantic puzzler.

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Oblido is certainly one of those games that may sound obscure, and indeed it was only ever released for the Commodore 16 and Plus/4.  The key though is also in its name: Oblido is the Latin for “to crush” and you will be needing to do plenty of that when you play the game itself.  The game effectively would like your small character to return the counters (or blocks if you prefer) back to their relevant coloured homes, which are initially red, yellow, blue, and green, and change on later levels, by pushing them around the screen to get them back into place whilst ensuring you have room to manoeuvre around the counters to do this.  Now if this was a simple clone of Sokoban, then absolutely that would be it, and it would still be enjoyable.  However…

The Sinners Are Coming

The main additions in this game are the ‘sinners’ which come from a location on the screen called, aptly, the Sin Bin.  These come out and patrol the outer border of the screen layout (which shows in grey, so easy to spot) and will if they get the chance attempt to zap you from a distance or collide into you if they are lined up.  The sinners can be removed in two ways, you have a weapon you can shoot at them to zap them, but also you can use the blocks and push them into the grey border, bouncing as they do and if the sinner is there, you then crush them and return them back to the sin bin.

Naturally of course the sinners can sometimes be lethal and you really do have to keep your eyes peeled to spot them.  Some players will hide behind the block for protection (as the sinner’s bullets cannot penetrate the block) but this of course wastes time.  Ah yes, you have a bonus.  This counts down and when that reaches zero, it is game over.  Being hit by a sinner also loses you a big chunk of that bonus too, so it is a fine balance between being able to get rid of them or to effectively hide and play the long game.

Crushing Time

There are three types of sinners to start with, the circular ones just circle the outside and so you can run into them if not careful, the straight crosses can fire at you and circle the outside whilst doing so, and the diagonal cross ones bounce around the inner sections and means they are ones to be avoided.  All of them can be crushed or fired at, with a neat visual effect when you crush one by bouncing or pushing the counter into them and a nice sound effect to boot.   When you complete a section of the nine counters with the same colours, there is a sound effect and that section flashes too.  This can sometimes be off putting or not useful to some players, so would have been nice to be able to turn that off.

Getting the blocks home can be tricky, but if you have a long line, one push gets the last counter of that line out, if there is room within the play area.  This can be useful to get one end counter out and move that, and keep the lines of those counters smaller.  It is also useful if you have several of them close to the outside ready for crushing, then moving in as you need to take out the sinners and get the blocks home.  It does become more addictive as you play and it really does give you that desire to think strategically when you push.

Four Levels of Mayhem

Once you get all the sets of counters back home, it is on to the next level.  There are four levels in all but unfortunately, as discovered by the excellent folks at Plus/4 World, the blue house in the final level has a bug, which thankfully can be fixed.  And if you do get that far, much kudos to you.  I usually get around half way through the second level before the bonus runs out, most likely because a sinner zapped me which I did not take notice of and before it was too late.  The in-game music can get a little annoying as it plays, but the sound effects are fine and help you as you push.

In fact, to give you an idea of the difficulty, here is a quick guide to how this increases over the levels – granted you do get a larger bonus for each level, but the sinners are more devious too:

  • Level 1 – 4 homes of 9 counters (red, yellow, blue, green)
  • Level 2 – 4 homes of 12 counters (orange, purple, yellow, blue)
  • Level 3 – 5 homes of 12 counters (red, blue, green, orange, purple)
  • Level 4 – 6 homes of 12 counters (red, green, orange, purple, yellow, blue)

Final Thoughts

It is very much a more frantic feel to a puzzle game than most when playing Oblido.  It is a case of keeping the wits about you as the sinners head around the outside of the screen or bounce around, and the ones that can zap you are the ones to really avoid as much as possible.  It may have benefitted from the odd gameplay tweak here or there, or a skill level option so that you maybe could start without any sinners to get yourself into a more classic Sokoban style mode, but no doubt about it, it is an underrated game and one that is actually more addictive the more you play it.

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