Maybe it was the art style seemingly lifted straight from the “I Spy” books of my childhood that initially pulled me in to the world of The Splatters, but it was the simple addictive gameplay that kept me playing.
The Splatters is a fresh new Xbox Live Arcade game that uses the ritual suicide of goo monsters to dispose of bombs left haphazardly around what seems like a child’s room. I have only seen Hurt Locker once but I think that is what they are going for. You launch these goo monsters on top of the bombs, and then the bombs can safely explode without harming any kids. I should mention that there are no children in this game and they didn’t specifically say that the goo people were bomb diffusers or suicidal, but this is my interpretation of The Splatters’ tableau.
The challenge comes in when the goos have to jump extremely far to eliminate the bombs using a set of special combo moves that will allow them to spread enough of their life essence to cover all the scattered bombs. Initially you only have one or two special combo moves but as you progress you unlock additional powers that you can use on previous levels to get even higher scores. The special combo powers range from being able to launch your goo monster again while in the air, the ability to reverse you current momentum, or even ride a slide! Mastery of all these powers is critical to achieve both your bomb diffusing goals and your high score desires. It should be mentioned that text does not do the game justice.
Just like many casual games today, you are attempting to earn a high enough score to get a number of stars. I do not say casual in a pejorative way, but The Splatters seems to be trying to get some of that Angry Birds money on the XBLA. Continuing in its trend of borrowing from the casual market’s powerhouses, The Splatters uses Peggle’s congratulatory spirit. When you complete a level, loud swelling music plays over a plethora of fireworks as your score is tallied. It is effective every time and helps cement your feeling of accomplishment.
The Splatters is fun and with three modes, leaderboards and a replay feature called SplatterTV, there is plenty of content. Unfortunately, I did eventually get bored with it. The Splatters fails to expand its initial creativity to new areas, choosing instead to tweak its previous gameplay concepts. The starter mode is a straightforward score attack mode that earns you the additional powers mentioned above. Completing this unlocks two additional modes, Master Shot and Combo Nation. Both follow the same premise but tweak it in their own special ways. Master Shot makes you use a specific combo power while Combo Nation is all about maintaining a high combo streak. Both modes offer more of the same but if you like what The Splatters offers, more is good.
If you are in the market for a skill based puzzle game that does not take itself too seriously then The Splatters may be just the thing you are looking for. Its puzzles are often mind bending without sacrificing precision gameplay. It eventually lost my interest, but I can see myself returning to earn higher scores. It’s a shame that so many goo monsters died in vain.
This review is based on a retail copy of The Splatters provided by SpikySnail Games. It is an XBLA exclusive.