The Splatters Review
That combo was gooey.
This week, SpikySnail Games are set to release their first game, The Splatters, on the Xbox Live Arcade. The Splatters is a physics-based puzzle game, that requires you to take piles of goo and shoot them around the screen, blowing up bombs and taking out other obstacles along the way. It sounds very weird at first, but once you start to play, you may not want to stop.
The first time you play The Splatters it is going to seem very strange. The Splatters are different colored, sacks of goo that you must shoot around the level to clear out any bombs of the same color. When you shoot one of the Splatters, it will explode on impact and release the pile of goo inside of it, and any goo that touches a bomb causes it to explode. The Splatters features three modes to play; Become A Talent, Combo Nation and Master Shots. The latter two aren’t available until you complete all the levels in Become A Talent, which is mostly just a long tutorial to get you familiar with the game.
As you play through Become A Talent, you will learn new stunts such as Flip which reverses time and causes everything to go backwards, Air Strike which lets you re-aim your Splatter in mid-air before it has exploded, Rainy Day which you’ll get when you splat into a spike and cause all the goo to rain down on bombs below and Ballistic which happens when you double tap A in mid-air, causing the Splatter to shoot like a missile at a target. I can’t say I ever expected to one day play a game where I was causing piles of goo to perform tricks, and it be so much fun, but I did and it was.
Combo Nation is a set of levels where the goal is to clear all the bombs, while also chaining stunts together to fill up the combo meter as high as you can. If you clear all the bombs you will still finish the level, but you won’t earn all three gold stars without a great combo as well. The difficulty of each level also goes way up in Combo Nation, with some of the levels being really tricky. In Master Shots, you must clear each level using specific stunts that are marked in each one. The logo of the stunts you must use are in a cloud formation in the background, and if you don’t use those stunts to clear the level, you fail. Master Shots is all about perfect timing and precise execution of the proper stunts, and is not for those who get easily frustrated. If you are off by the slightest amount it can mean the difference between victory or leaving one bomb remaining and failing that level. There is nothing worse than one bomb remaining.
Between all three modes, there are over 50 levels in the game, and none of them play out the same. After you beat a level, you can always go back and replay it if you didn’t earn all the gold stars on it. It’s a nice amount of content for the 800 MS Point price tag and for those who really enjoy the game, getting three stars on some of the stages is going to take a decent amount of dedication. Also featured in The Splatters is Splatter TV, where you can watch videos that other users have uploaded. After you complete a level, if you had a sick high score, or an awesome combo, you can upload a gameplay video for others to watch. This is a great feature because it’s not only fun to watch, but if you are stuck on a level, you can always search for videos of that level and see what others did to complete it. It’s like having a dedicated YouTube for The Splatters, right in the game.
On the surface it may seem like The Splatters is aimed at kids, with the smiling piles of goo, and the colorful backgrounds, but adults will like this one too. Because of its addictive gameplay I would bet there will be lots of parents turning on their kids Xbox 360 after they go to bed.
There are no multiplayer or cooperative modes in The Splatters. Due to the way the game is designed to let you retry as many times as you want if you fail a level, it would be pretty boring to watch your friend try over and over and over again, so multiplayer wouldn’t really work here without changing the core design of the game. If they created a multiplayer mode where you only had 3 retries available, and the goal was to see who could get the highest score, it would probably end up being really fun though.
All in all, The Splatters is one of the most pure fun and addictive games I’ve played lately. The puzzles are challenging and combining stunts to rack up high scores will keep you playing over and over again until you earn all the gold stars. Multiplayer may have been fun, but we’ll never know, so for now The Splatters is a solo affair, but for only $10 it’s one of the best puzzle games on the Xbox Live Arcade and any puzzle junkies out there, old or young, should pick it up.