Developed By: Sometimes You
Published By: Sometimes You
Release Date: 3.13.2018
Spiral Splatter for Nintendo Switch is a cross between the classic ball maze and the board game Operation. The object of the game is to guide a ball through a course without touching the sides. It may sound super simple, but it’s actually surprisingly challenging and frustratingly addictive.
As I said, the basic idea of the game is to get a ball from the starting line of each level to a goal area at the end of the course without crashing into the sides of the course. The courses start off very simple; you just follow the course as quickly as you can. There is a boost ability that increases speed, but also makes turning a lot harder. There is a timer in the corner that tracks how long it takes you to complete the level, and when you complete the level you earn one to three stars depending on how quickly you finish (three stars being the highest award per level). Finishing one track unlocks the next track in that world, and gathering enough stars unlocks new worlds, and each world introduces a new obstacle into the courses that you have to evade. There are eleven worlds in all, most of which have ten tracks, although the first world (which is far and away the easiest) only has six tracks.
The new obstacles introduced with each new world add a level of challenge to the courses and keep the game fresh; you’re never stuck on one problem for more than a few courses. New worlds introduce things like buttons that open gates, sliding walls, warp points, and cannons that track the ball and fire on it fairly accurately; those guns are hard to dodge in the open, making it necessary to take cover for a few precious seconds occasionally. The decision to have the timer as part of the reward process is really where a lot of the challenge of the game comes from; most of the puzzles are easy to figure out, but having the dexterity and skill to actually carry out the solution in the time allotted is another thing altogether. After an obstacle is introduced, it can be combined with other obstacles for future courses for added levels of difficulty.
The design of the game is very slick but simple. The ball is just a simple white circle; the edges of the tracks are just simple white lines. The gates, warp points, and bullets are similarly minimalist; mostly just basic shapes. The background to each course is generally a gradient coded to whatever the color scheme of that world is. When you do hit the sides (and you will), the ball explodes and leaves a splatter of white paint where it hit. If, like me, you hit a tricky corner frequently enough the paint can get thick enough to obscure the actual boundary, making hard turns even harder. There is a reset button that brings you back to the beginning of the stage and wipes away all the paint splatters though, so you can have a clean run every time if you want; but where’s the fun in that? Some of the longer courses even have checkpoints, so when you crash you start partway through rather than at the end. However, the checkpoint does not reset the timer, so if you’re going for three stars the checkpoint is mostly meaningless since it means losing time.
Most importantly, it’s an incredibly fun game to play. The basic premise of the game is simple enough for anyone to grasp, but pretty challenging (and not frustrating) to master. Playing the game really sucked me in; I often told myself it was time to put it down and start writing the review or go to bed after the current level, but then five levels later I would have to tell myself the same thing again. I mostly played it undocked, as it’s a perfect game for playing on the go since you can just pick it up and play for five minutes whenever. Unfortunately, it has a very low replay value once you’ve gotten all the stars collected, but it will take a good amount of time to get them all. Heck, it will even take a good amount of time to even unlock the final world, so for five bucks you really can’t go wrong.
TL;DR: Simple. Fun. Good.