STAFF REVIEW of The Splatters (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Thursday, April 5, 2012.
by Adam Dileva

The Splatters Box art Whenever a great puzzle game comes along I find myself enthralled with it for quite some time, much like I did with Braid and Peggle. Who doesn?t love a good puzzle game, feeling like you can figure anything out when you?re doing well and a moment later like the challenge in front of you isn?t possible in any way. The Splatters may look like a cute game, but don?t let the looks deceive you, this game becomes very challenging and takes a lot of skill.

The Splatters is a physics based puzzler where you control liquid-filled blobs and your goal is to make them explode their ink onto the corresponding bombs that lay around the stages. Once you?ve learned all the moves that are available to you, levels can be completed with almost endless possibilities. Your skill and creativity will come into play at how you tackle each level and seeing someone complete a level in a completely different manner than you may even give you ideas of how to alter your gameplay. This manages to keep the game fresh every time you play, even long after you?ve completed the levels.

Your goal may seem simple at first, but dousing those bombs with the correct color of splatter can be much more complex than you thought. You need to fling, slam, and detonate your smiling Splatters all around the level with many trick shots and with a specific amount of Splatters to do so. You?re given many stunt moves as you progress to help make this possible. Slam into a wall or ceiling to explode outwards, covering more ground with your ink. You can ?smack? to even shoot in another direction after you?ve exploded, though it?s smaller, but will help cover those pesky stray bombs. Air strike lets you change direction midair, good for leaping over objects or aiming exactly where you want to midflight. Ballistic is fun as it?ll make you explode in the widest range possible, but you have no control after that other than flipping.

What is flipping you ask? It?s the ability you?ll most likely end up using the most, done with the Left Trigger. The flip ability is like undoing and reversing everything you just did, but you can toggle it on and off multiple times indefinitely, allowing your splatter to ?float? while it explodes if you want to cover a specific spot with ink. At first it looks like it?s a simple time rewind, but physics and gravity stay intact, allowing you to fling your Splatter or bombs one way, and then reverse it to gain momentum. You can essentially make your liquid ?float? midair while you try and coat each of the same colored bombs.

As you begin The Splatters, you start off learning the basics in Become a Talent mode, which consists of 12 levels. Here you?ll learn how to properly play and use all the previously learned trick shots appropriately. Once you complete those levels you unlock Combo Nation mode, 21 stages total, in which you?re supposed to keep your combo meter going, forcing you to think quickly if you want a good score and the coveted three star rating. You also unlock Master Shots mode, 32 levels worth, that is without a doubt the most difficult stages in the game. Here you?re shown clouds that represent icons of the tricks you?re supposed to perform to properly finish the level. You also can?t reposition your Splatters in Master Shots mode like you can in Talent and Combo mode. Stars based on how many tricks you can do in each level, but you need to pull off the required trick as a bare minimum. While it may seem like there?s not many levels, as there?s a total of 65, each level is split into multiple stages (the same background), so once you complete each puzzle, new splatters appear and the new puzzle stage appears. So there are really three times the levels you see listed in the menus, for a total of around 200 or so. Some you will get stuck on for quite some time too, so don?t fret about lack of gameplay.

The beginning levels are simple, to be expected, and the difficulty ramps up at an even pace. There was no random brick wall and it?s not until much later that you?ll have to retry stages multiple times, as it?s paced very nicely. If you?re really skilled, you won?t even need to use every Splatter to complete levels, which will net you a larger score. When you do great completing a level you can upload your replay to Splatter TV very easily. Splatter TV is where you can watch replays of your friends or the best players in the world. It?s very simple to navigate and check the leaderboards to choose which replays you want to watch.

Oddly enough, it feels like it?s meant to be a tablet based game, but the controls work very well with the controller and is simple to jump in and play. The Splatters might not seem like it has much depth at first, but watching a few replays from each level, almost everyone had a different way of tackling each stage which I found impressive and made me change how I thought about going against each puzzle. The true test of a great puzzle game is in its lasting appeal and replayability. The Splatters has a great mechanic behind it that allows for levels to be replayed numerous times, as you?ll almost always think of a new way to complete each stage. Simply put, it?s a fantastic and simple puzzle game that allows you to freely think of a solution, rather than being forced into a predetermined one. For the 800 Microsoft Points, it gets a solid recommendation from me towards any puzzle lover.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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