STAFF REVIEW of Splash Blast Panic (Xbox One)

Friday, September 14, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

Splash Blast Panic Box art I don’t have many friends over often, you know, with real life commitments and busy lives always getting in the way, but when I do, I have my go-to for multiplayer party games. Depending on the friends, it’ll either be a racing, fighting, board game or like many, a Smash Bros title or something similar. Splash Blast Panic aims to take what people loved about Smash Bros and make it their own with some small twists on the gameplay.

Aimed to be family and kid friendly, instead of throwing fists and fighting in a traditional sense, you instead use water pistols and jetpacks to defeat one another in battle. That’s right, you’ll be flying around the screen with an unlimited jetpack, shooting one another with blasts from water based weaponry, attempting to knock one another completely out of the screen. Like any good party game, you’re going to have fun doing so, but probably ruin some friendships along the way.

There’s no real arching narrative at all, I mean, sure, there’s some menacing figure that appears and you battle it the end of Arcade mode, but aside from that, Splash Blast Panic is simply a multiplayer affair for up to 4 friends simultaneously. Clearly influenced by Smash Bros, the overall goal is to push your enemies so far outside the edges of the screen to make them lose a life. While there’s no real life bar that you need to deplete first, you could win quite quickly with some great placed shots or take quite some time to knock them out.

You maneuver on your jetpack with the Left Stick, able to quickly fly around in any direction, though the controls are very floaty and you’ll constantly skirt the boundaries off screen, only to overcompensate and come shooting back the opposite direction. You’ll eventually become accustomed to the loose controls, though if you manage to get one of the specific power-ups, you’ll fly around with perfect precision control, something I wish as the norm.

Shooting your water based weapons is done with the Right Stick. Simply aim in the direction you want to shoot and you’ll start to fire. You’ll need to reload after a short while, automatically done by simply not shooting, and the opening burst of your weapon is how you get the greatest push against your opponents. So part of the strategy is to know when to not simply keep firing, thus shooting weaker, and when to reload and wait for the perfect aim to blast them further. It took me quite some time to learn this, but once I did I was performing much better with quicker knockouts. Of course, this is something veterans will worry about more, as my kid was content with just flying and shooting all over the place simply having fun.

To make things even more interesting, each individual level has its own environmental hazards you’ll need to watch out for as well. Some have swinging scales that tip when stood on, heavy wind gusts that can blow you off the screen, a giant slot machine that can spawn fireballs or platforms and more. It adds some variety to the levels and can make combat even more chaotic with so much going on.

While it’s meant to be played as a multiplayer title, even in team based matches or a free for all, there is some gameplay if you’re playing solo as well, including fighting against bots, something I didn’t really expect, as usually the multiplayer focus is forced in games like this. That being said, playing alone will not last long and be quite boring after a handful of times going through versus or arcade. Where Splash Blast Panic really shines is having friends over, cheering, yelling and swearing at each other the whole time, especially after a few adult beverages.

To add even more variety to the gameplay, random offensive and defensive power-ups will fall from the top of the screen every so often. Manage to pick it up in time and you’ll have an extra powerful weapon for a short duration or a defensive buff. There’s only a handful of different weapons to pick up, and some are much more powerful and useful than others, but picking the right one up at the most opportune time can shift the outcome in your favor quite quickly. The same goes for each character’s individual special that can be utilized once their meter is full, unleashing a devastating attack if you can learn how to use it properly. Again, I found some of these specials way more powerful than others, but it’s all about learning whom suits your playstyle best.

If you have a group of friends that come over often, then Splash Blast Panic will get its money’s worth easily if you’re a fan of Smash Bros-like gameplay. While the loose controls take some getting used to, and it’ll seem like pure chaos at first, there is some fun to be had with the right group of friends. Even though it’s geared towards a younger audience with its water based weaponry, and it won’t have much longevity for myself, my six year old has been asking to play it every so often, which is a great sign for that audience.

“Easy to learn, hard to master” may be cliché, but it fits Splash Blast Panic’s gameplay nicely. With a lot of practice, some 2v2 competitive matches would be a riot, though having friends and family simply join in and see what happens in a free for all match is just as exciting. Longevity and value will solely depend on how many friends and family you have to constantly play with. Gather some friends and get ready for some water splashing panic to ensue.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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