There’s no shortage of farming titles at the moment, or ‘wholesome’ games chasing the chill vibes of titles like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing to deliver a cosy experience perfect for nestling up on a cold Sunday afternoon and wiling away a spare couple of hours. In fact, there just might be too many of those games releasing soon, as the previously niche genre has catapulted into the zeitgeist thanks to the success of the aforementioned titles and a few wildly successful Instagram accounts.
But like a good Apple product, sometimes you don’t need to do something completely new, you just need to collect the best features and present them all in one convenient package. Ooblets is the iPhone of farming sims. Not the first to the party, perhaps not even the best, but a slick package with all the features you’d want and presented beautifully.
Previously available on Steam in a beta version, Ooblets from developer and publisher Glumberland now sees the release of its major 1.0 update on PC, and its simultaneous release on other platforms, including the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation. You can now collect little vegetable creatures anywhere, so just how well does this title hold up on Nintendo Switch? And what sets Ooblets apart for anyone looking to dive into a new cosy farming game, who are currently overwhelmed with choice.
If you don’t know anything about Ooblets, it’s a pastel-coloured and aggressively adorable game that balances a farming sim with creature collecting fairly deftly. Your character moves to the chill town of Oob, home of the Ooblets, and you set out on a quest to refurbish and expand a rundown farm and catch some of those adorable Ooblets in the process. The town is populated with some very friendly folks, a few fun shops with different food, clothing, and furniture items all available to buy, and extra areas you can unlock as you grow your connection with people.
You can expand each vendor once you make friends with the owner, with your friendship level shown on a meter that increases when you talk to them every day or when you complete tasks they set you. These can involve gathering resources, helping them find Ooblets, and a few other fun variables. Both your farm and Badgetown start out pretty rundown and humble, but you can build them into glorious bustling places full of life and personality. As you expand each vendor you also unlock more furniture, clothes, and other things to wear, decorate, or grow on your farm.
It’s a satisfying slow build, and the fact you can gain friendship by talking to people means that I spend a little bit of each day just wandering around and chatting with everyone. Luckily the dialogue is charming and well written, so I try to not skip it and just enjoy my time with the funny characters. On top of this, you can gather essential resources every day, you can fish with bait made from litter, and even enter the local dance battle tournament every day (we’ll get to that) to earn even more resources. Badgetown is just a really lovely place to explore, and greater Oob in general, with a huge amount of things to do.
As you farm and gather more Ooblets, you can find more clothes, Ooblets accessories, and furniture to change up your style in the wardrobe, the house, and even dress up your favourite Ooblet’s in adorable outfits. There’s a great selection of clothing items with new ones available to buy each day, and the particular soft pastel art style lends itself well to the decoration elements, as I made a particularly aesthetically pleasing house for myself with some softly-coloured furniture and a few interesting pieces for my home.
Now all of this is obviously in aid of the main aim of the game, the creature collecting. The creatures here are the eponymous Ooblets, tiny sentient vegetables that wander the land of Oob over several different locations. Getting seeds from the Ooblets allows you to plant them on your farm, which after some love and care (and a certain amount of in-game time) grow into your very own version of that Ooblet.
Once you have a small team of Ooblets, you can either set them to work on the farm where you can grow seeds needed for food (more on that in a bit), or you can keep up to eight Ooblets in your party and wander the world, looking for even more Ooblets to add to your growing crop. For anyone familiar with a creature-collecting game like Pokémon, you might think finding and grabbing seeds from the Ooblets is as easy as battling, but it’s not quite that simple.
I’ll get into the other aspects of the game later, but I want to break down the crux of collecting the Ooblets, because it’s a journey. First of all, when you start any given day you get a nice little rundown of all the different Ooblets that occupy the land of Oob and its various locations (travelable by a hot air balloon) for that specific day. There are quite a few Ooblets, not to mention that each comes with a common, uncommon, and a gleamy colour, effectively a shiny Pokémon. So, plenty to find and collect.
Working with a local scientist you set out to document each and every Ooblet, and get rewarded with the in-game currency known as gummies for your trouble. A regular Ooblet nets you 50 gummies, an uncommon 100, and the elusive gleamies bag you a cool 300. Where things get tricky is the process of grabbing each Ooblet’s seed. To defeat an Ooblet you don’t battle them to the death, pitting carrot against onion in some mad soup of terror. Instead, you partake in fever dream-inducing dance battles.
These dance battles are possibly my favourite part of the game, they’re just joyous and silly in all the best ways, the music is fantastic (a mixture of a children’s TV show theme and some electronic beats, with a decent selection of different tracks on rotation), and the actual dance battle mechanics are really smart. You battle with cards that are decided by a few standard decks that are always present, and a selection of special cards that are added to the deck by their respective Ooblet.
Each Ooblet has three cards to unlock and you start with one regardless of when you collect an Ooblet, then as you level up the Ooblet through dance battles you unlock the next two cards to add to your deck. Though you can have up to eight Ooblets in your party, you only battle as many Ooblets as the opposing team has. Sometimes this is 1v1, but I’ve had battles up to 6v6, and things get pretty hectic with the more Ooblets you add. The amount of cards you can use is decided by the number of beats you have, with single battles generally allowing you three beats per turn, and larger battles allowing a few more.
Each dance battle is a race to get to a certain number of points, generally starting at twenty but again increasing when more Ooblets are on the field. Some cards take up two beats and add two points, and a card that takes up more of your beats will do more. It’s not quite that simple though, as the status effects of hype and fluster come into effect. You can use some of your cards to gain hype, and the higher your hype levels, the more points your regular cards will offer you when played. If you manage to gain three or four hype, suddenly a card that cost two beats to play can offer you eight points, and so on. Conversely, adding fluster to your opponent will counteract their hype, or if they don’t have any, you can make it so that their cards offer one or even zero points when played.
There are a few other wrinkles such as the ability to steal points, you can stun opponents, and you can fill up either team’s deck with useless cards known as trepidation cards. Some Ooblets even have cards that offer things outside of the dance battle, such as seeds for food or resources like planklets. It’s a huge system and one I’ve been addicted to for so long now, and it adds a real extra incentive to finding new Ooblets so you can discover what cards they have, and level them up to reveal even more. I’ve avoided any online guides to the full cards available because honestly I just enjoy the surprise and the chance to experiment. Unlike Pokémon, I constantly rotate my team and try out new tactics, especially as later Ooblet opponents gradually add an extra challenge.
So that covers Ooblets and the dance battles, but we’re not quite done explaining how to get Ooblets yet, and this is where the farming comes in. Whenever you see an Ooblet, you can’t simply go up to them and challenge them to a dance battle like Starlord. Instead, you have to make them an offering of their favourite food, sometimes these are seeds, sometimes resources, and sometimes full recipes that will comprise a combination of many other ingredients. Naturally, these start out easy enough, with Ooblets asking for some of the berries you can simply forage by wandering around the main hub known as Badgetown and shaking down some trees.
Things get a bit tougher later though, as Ooblets demand recipes that are made up of several different foods, and that’s if you even have the recipe. As you explore the world you will occasionally find objects or areas glowing with a golden aura which means an item is waiting to be discovered, and occasionally one of these is a scrap of a recipe. Combine four recipe pieces and you can make one whole recipe, adding a new food item to your repertoire provided you have the equipment and ingredients needed.
Ingredients are found either by foraging (every town has items to be found in bushes like chillies, seeds, or other such foodstuffs and extra bits), buying seeds in different shops and planting them on your farm (which takes a few days), or processing some ingredients to turn them into something else. The vegetable known as a sweetiebeetie can be processed in a device known as a crunchster to give you froobtose, essentially sugar. Meanwhile, springbeans can be processed into beanjuice or a spressy, a proxy for coffee that gives you additional energy when consumed.
What I’m getting at here, is that finding an Ooblet is the easy part. But managing to actually get enough of the food they like, if you can even find or afford the ingredients, on the right day, is a huge hassle. It was beyond frustrating to find a new Ooblet to only either not have the right recipe yet, or have crops growing that wouldn’t be ready for a couple of days, or to even have the exact needed food, but it wasn’t in my pocket. Granted, I could head home and grab it from my fridge, travel all the way back out to a different location, and then go back, but it just speaks to my biggest problem with the game which is unnecessary busywork.
I absolutely adore a farming sim, and I’m a patient man. I’ve put over 200 hours into Stardew Valley, something similar in Dragon Quest Builders 2, and I dread to think of the total time I’ve spent in Pokémon games over the years building my different teams. Also, I’m really enjoying Ooblets and I don’t want to take away from that, but I just can’t get my head around what an absolute ordeal it is to do the thing that seems like the heart of the game.
I love the Ooblets, I want to find all of the Ooblets, and seeing a new one for the first time is always absolutely delightful because they all have really silly designs and very funny vegetable-based punny names. It just takes the wind out of my sails a bit when I don’t even have the recipe needed, or the ingredients to make the recipe, and it takes weeks of in-game work to get to that point. Sure it’s something to work towards, but it became a bit of a brutal chore later on when I just wanted to be having fun with the dance battles and collecting Ooblets.
I totally understand why it’s here, to make the farming side of things important. I also understand that at this point it’s just part of the game, but if I could just make even one change it would be that when an Ooblet wants a specific food, you can give it to them from either your inventory on you, or pull it magically from the expanded inventory back at your house like a chest or a fridge. That, or I’d let the Ooblet be the one to give you the recipe needed to get them, so at least then you have exactly what you need and know where to go.
Gathering recipes from the scraps dotted around is random, so it’s not a satisfying way to find them, and it’s slow work. Alternatively, when you complete in-game tasks you gain badges from Badgetown’s Mayor Tinstle, and these reward you with a currency known as wishies. These can be spent at the town’s wishing well to unlock new features for the town, new recipes, unlock a bigger farm, or just gather some resources. There are a lot of great things to unlock and improve, so frankly I also slightly begrudge spending my hard-earned wishies on a recipe I need. I don’t want to make it sound like I hated the process, but with so many Ooblets to catch, places to explore, and so many recipes to find, it definitely became tiresome much quicker than I expected it to.
Speaking of exploring, I should mention there’s a story at the heart of Ooblets, and a fun one at that. Dotted around the land of Oob are different towers in various locations like Mammonia, Nullwhere, and Port Forwards etc. The aim is to find each tower and turn them on, to increase the signal of the Oob network, and other such silly reasons. Basically, just go to each area and do the tasks you need to find the tower, and turn on a big switch. It’s enough of a drive to keep the momentum up, even if you do want to still get in a bit of exploring and farming every day.
The tasks you need to complete to unlock the towers range widely, with Port Forwards being my favourite of the bunch. In Port Forwards, there are a selection of arcade cabinets that feature full-blown miniature arcade games ready to be played. It’s your mission to get to the top of the leaderboard on each and everyone, and while they’re not all knockouts, each is fun in its own way. I was just surprised to see such effort put into another part of the game later on, and honestly, Ooblets just continues to expand and grow as you continue.
I eventually unlocked the ability to open my own shop, which sadly isn’t working properly at the moment. The developer has made it clear it’s aware of the bug and has sent out a patch already which should be live within a few days, and frankly, if you get to that part of the game before the patch is live then you have a huge amount of spare time. Sadly, there are a couple of other small bugs here and there, like UI issues and the occasional collision of moving items in the world.
All of the mini-games from Port Forwards are fun, but the instructions are not labeled for a Switch controller, with A or B appearing on different buttons to the actual controller layout. However, I should mention that generally, the game runs really well. Load times are there but not too intrusive, the game looks absolutely gorgeous (especially on the OLED with that beautiful soft colour palette), and while hectic dance battles might make the game chug a little, it’s never enough to get in the way.
Ooblets also does a lot right when it comes to the farming elements, with a smart UI allowing you to move around easily while using tools, and eventually, you can automate a lot of your farming with items like sprinklers and slowly by employing the Ooblets to nurture your crops. You can only have so many Ooblets on your farm and must add extra buildings called oobcoops if you want more, but these are fairly resource intensive to both build and upgrade, so adding more Ooblets to your farm can be a bit frustrating.
It’s only compounded by earlier issues with actually unlocking the Ooblets to then have several seeds on my farm ready to birth brand new Ooblets I had spent hours wooing, only to then need to spend another couple of hours gathering the resources to build an additional shelter for them. It’s not quite as egregious as the recipes, but it all adds up. Again, I’ve had a lot of fun with the game and I love collecting Ooblets.
I’ve got over twenty of the adorable little blighters not including different colourways and the designs and different cards mean each one is a joy to unlock. But just getting to that is so, so, difficult sometimes. I put up with it because I love this sort of game, but people with less patience than me might find it a dealbreaker. If you want to get into the farming sim genre, I don’t know that I’d recommend this to newcomers. But if you know what you’re getting into and enjoy the long process, sure, have at it. Maybe the issues I had with the arduous process of actually unlocking Ooblets won’t seem like such a big deal to you.
Ooblets is a fantastic, absorbing, and pleasantly appealing game absolutely stuffed to the gills with fun things to do, find, and places to explore. While battling with Ooblets is an absolute blast and building your deck leaves so much room for experimentation, I just find that with a game that already has too many things to do, I’m not sure why the process of actually capturing the Ooblets needed to be quite so long-winded.
It doesn’t detract from the fact that Ooblets is a roaring success in the cosy, wholesome, farming sim genre, managing to do a huge number of things very successfully while putting its own spin and charm on every aspect. But people with a lack of patience might struggle to get further than the easy opening hours, when the many systems can compound to bury the player in busywork.
A new contender for the best wholesome game on Switch, Ooblets matches smart farming mechanics with satisfying creature collecting, and the vegetable critters known as the Ooblets are the star of the show. Dance battles are thrilling, and there are endless amounts of ways to customise and improve every aspect of the game but don’t expect to get anywhere quickly, as with so many different gameplay elements it’s easy to get buried under the workload