Giant Bomb Review

42 Comments

The Splatters Review

3
  • XBGS

Competence is the greatest achievement The Splatters manages, and that's not quite enough to justify its price.

The evolution of the digital console marketplace over the last six or seven years has really been a sight to behold. At its inception, Xbox Live Arcade seemed like a promising enough concept, offering a mix of simplistic, sometimes addicting original downloadable titles with remastered retro games (presumably) polished for modern consumption. XBLA may have looked like little more than a trifle early on, but as the years went on and developers became more and more aware of what kinds of things could actually be done via a digital platform, innovative, provocative, and straight-up brilliant games began to evolve out of the digital primordial ooze. Now, even the most simple and easily digestible games coming to the platform often feel worlds beyond the games that helped put the service on the map in the first place.

The Splatters' blob-splashing gameplay is interesting for a few hours, and not much more.

Having seen this evolution first-hand, I find the existence of The Splatters altogether bizarre. This puzzle game from SpikySnail Games Studio feels like some lost XBLA title from 2006, like it just wandered in from the cold after years adrift at sea, totally unaware of what's happened in the six years that transpired since. Its insubstantial puzzle mechanics and generally bare-bones presentation are the stuff of yesteryear, somehow transplanted into a time that's all but forgotten that games like it ever existed. I don't say this to accuse The Splatters of being a terrible game, because it certainly isn't. But it's hard to get too excited about a game that feels more like it should have been collecting dust on your hard drive alongside Cloning Clyde and Marble Blast Ultra for the last half a decade, as opposed to appearing in 2012 for a $10 price tag.

That antiquated feeling permeates every aspect of The Splatters. The cutesy visuals don't offer much beyond a few adorable blobs and some peculiarly inconsistent level art--like, why is there a giant shoe on this one level, while another features a giant soccer ball embedded in the geometry? The music and audio effects sound culled from the bottom of the license-free barrel. And the mechanics, momentarily interesting as they are, fail to evolve into anything beyond a halfway interesting physics demonstration.

The Splatters takes its premise from the "death in service of awesome" concept more or less created by the Lemmings series, and used time and time again in modern downloadable games, including recent titles like Swarm and World Gone Sour. The titular Splatters are colorful, sentient blobs, whose sole purpose in life is to be flung at gooey strings of "bombs" that explode when contacted by the blobs in their liquid form. In order to blow up these gooey bomb strings, you launch the Splatter folk at them, aiming to make them explode into a slimy mess all over the bombs, which then explode.

Think of it like a mix between Angry Birds, Puddle, and PAIN, if that simplifies things a bit. You're killing these blob dudes to create stunts, which are long chains of maneuvers that allow your blob to destroy vast strings of bombs in one fell swoop. In order to do this, you've got a few different moves at your disposal. You can re-launch yourself mid-air to change direction, double-tap the A button to send your blob flying like a laser-guided missile (and creating a massive burst of Splatter goo in the process), and even reverse time/physics to bring wayward bombs back toward your perpetually raining goo.

At best, The Splatters is a minor amusement. At worst, it's an expensive trip back to when XBLA games were usually just diluted echoes of better games.

It's these mechanics, and the unpredictable (in a good way) physics that give The Splatters some legs. If it were just about shooting blobs at weird looking things that lightly explode, then it would literally be the dullest game currently on XBLA. Messing with these different maneuvers gives the gameplay a bit of variety and a moderate amount of satisfaction. It is legitimately kind of cool when you shoot a blob in one direction, have it fly back in another, and then reverse the physics a few times to nail some extra bombs you wouldn't otherwise hit.

Unfortunately, the number of maneuvers you're given to play with runs out pretty quickly, and that variety dwindles. For a few hours, The Splatters is a decent amusement. Playing through the various stunt- and combo-oriented stages is fun for a few hours, but after that it wears thin. There is the option to keep pushing for crazier and crazier stunts, which you can then post up on the game's equivalent of YouTube for Splattering, but even the most ludicrous stunts on there aren't quite ludicrous enough to justify spending hours trying to generate them.

Back in the day, The Splatters would have probably made for a decent little $5 amusement. $10 is a bit too steep a price for a puzzle game as rooted in antiquity as The Splatters. Maybe wait for a price drop, and a particularly empty weekend schedule to pop up, and you'll wring what fun there is to be had out of The Splatters.

Alex Navarro on Google+
42 Comments
Posted by Superfriend

Yeah, more games on XBLA should be 10 dollars.. in this case maybe even less.

Posted by JoshyLee

It looked cool from the QL. Maybe I'll see if it goes on sale.

Posted by TadThuggish

so, like, poop

Posted by MrKlorox

Really Alex? $10 is too much for this, compared to other 10 and 15 dollar games?
 
I live in a rather poor part of the US, so games are already expensive by default (Steam is my savior). I guarantee $10 is a lot more to me than to you, and I was ready to buy this game after the QL. I already purchased the points, but the trial is still downloading and I haven't gotten to play it yet. Now I'm not certain I should.
 
Out of curiosity how much does a burger and fries cost where you live? When the bombcast was talking about how the cost of living in San Francisco was too high for Subway to offer the $5 footlong deal, I found it silly that one could detect disappointment in their voices.

Posted by Solh0und

Seemed like a decent game .

Posted by Alex

@MrKlorox: Let me put it this way: For $10, would you rather spend that money on something that may casually amuse you for a couple of hours at best, or save it for something more interesting? I'd rather save it for something more interesting.

Staff
Edited by iAmJohn

Obligatory "knew this was an Alex review from the deck" post.

@MrKlorox said:

Out of curiosity how much does a burger and fries cost where you live? When the bombcast was talking about how the cost of living in San Francisco was too high for Subway to offer the $5 footlong deal, I found it silly that one could detect disappointment in their voices.

Speaking from experience of having lived in New York City all my life, it depends on where in the city you go. It's bound to be cheaper in Queens where Alex is, but in general, though, most of the non-McDonalds burger joints in Manhattan will charge you at least $9 for a burger, fries and soda. From the sounds of the game, I think I'd rather have the meal.

Edited by jukeboxzer0

Brad seemed to like it

Posted by Patman99

Although I have not played the game, I totally get the got the antiquated look Alex was talking about while watching the quicklook. In fact, I quickly checked the games page just to make sure it was not an old release. Besides, even after watching the quicklook, the game seems super simplistic and probably would not entertain me for longer than a week. That being said, these type of physics puzzle/combo games are not necessarily my favourite.

Posted by Xeirus

@MrKlorox said:

Really Alex? $10 is too much for this, compared to other 10 and 15 dollar games? I live in a rather poor part of the US, so games are already expensive by default (Steam is my savior). I guarantee $10 is a lot more to me than to you, and I was ready to buy this game after the QL. I already purchased the points, but the trial is still downloading and I haven't gotten to play it yet. Now I'm not certain I should. Out of curiosity how much does a burger and fries cost where you live? When the bombcast was talking about how the cost of living in San Francisco was too high for Subway to offer the $5 footlong deal, I found it silly that one could detect disappointment in their voices.

I don't feel like $10 is that much honestly.... poor or not, this is an arcade game, looks worth $10 to me after the QL. Spend your money on whatever you want dude.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Wait, Alex reviewed this? I'm not complaining; I'm surprised. Given the blurb, I was certain Patrick reviewed this.

Online
Posted by TheBrainninja

@jukeboxzer0: It seems like Alex liked it too, for a while. The main thrust of his review seems to be that the fun is shallow and wears off after a while.

Posted by mosdl

The question of how much a game is worth paying for is always a dicey discussion to have.

Edited by onan

Hey now, Marble Blast Ultra was fantastic. Still one of my favorite XBLA titles.

@MrKlorox said:

Out of curiosity how much does a burger and fries cost where you live? When the bombcast was talking about how the cost of living in San Francisco was too high for Subway to offer the $5 footlong deal, I found it silly that one could detect disappointment in their voices.

Living in Queens, NYC myself, and depending on where you go, burger and fries could be anywhere from $8 to $16 (unless you go to McDonald's or Burger King and order off the Dollar menu). The $5 Footlong from Subway is actually a pretty decent value here, and one of the cheapest lunches you're likely to get other than a slice of pizza ($2.25-$2.75) or lamb over rice from a street cart ($5-6), or the ever popular "meat on a stick" ($3).

Posted by ptc

Value (in this case $10) is totally relative to where you are in life (age, location, employment status, etc...). Please Giantbomb, remove the consumer reports style value for the money review component. Prices change and my personal take on value changes depending on circumstances. I want to know if this is a good game, I want to know if it's worth my time. Let's not confuse the issue by talking about the current price tag.

Posted by Alex

@ptc: I think me saying it's not probably worth $10 is a pretty definitive statement as to whether it's worth your time or not. Like, I'm doing just fine financially, and I kinda wish I'd spent my money on something else. (Yes, I did pay for this.)

Staff
Posted by ptc

@Alex said:

@ptc: I think me saying it's not probably worth $10 is a pretty definitive statement as to whether it's worth your time or not. Like, I'm doing just fine financially, and I kinda wish I'd spent my money on something else. (Yes, I did pay for this.)

If it were $5, like you wrote in the last paragraph, would the review have ended up being 4 stars instead of 3? Just something to think about...

Edited by Krakn3Dfx

The Splatters makes me thinks of having to clean the toilet immediately after I use it.

For this reason, I hope to never hear about this game ever again after today.

Also:

Posted by Alex

@ptc: Maybe? I could see feeling a little bit better about this thing if it were totally budget. I mean, I did say at the end of the review that if it drops in price, it's perhaps worth checking out.

Staff
Posted by DarkidRising

Having played the trail (and obtained a full quota of Trophies, Medals, bandanas and stars), I cannot grasp the crux of Alex's criticism of the game - that it looks akin to a 4-5 year old XBLA title. I will admit that it has a slight iOS vibe in it's aesthetics, but, in general, I found the visual and auditory feedback to be supremely satisfying. There is a clever use of on-screen visual reward, especially with the game slowing down and zooming in to focus upon moments where skillful / flukey play is achieved. Certainly, the backdrops are rife with bits and bob oddities, but there is a charm to this non-contextual use of objects - they simply say 'have fun' - at no juncture does the game attempt to provide reason or rhyme to the actions and situation, so to criticize it for not having verisimilitude in this area is a tad ridiculous. That said, the visual style of the blobs and splatter effects don't completely align with the art direction used for the backdrops - the former is bright, bold and cartoony whilst the latter has a somewhat muted, per-rendered vibe. Irrespective of these mild presentational hiccups, it cannot be said that Splatters is less visually appealing and pleasantly presented than other, recent XBLA. I have played many titles on XBLA that don't offer as much graphical sheen and style as this game does. It seems strange that this title should rise the ire in Alex more than many others.

However, I would concur that the game could (theoretically) be completed relatively quickly. That said, once a new skill is unlocked, previously played areas can be replayed for further medals via the player incorporating the new skill into their approach to level completion. This, in conjunction with the aforementioned Trophies etc, certainly beefs up game time for those seeking a 100 p/c completion. For those with no interest in such a pursuit, then, yes, this game is somewhat short. For this reason, I am willing to hold out on purchasing the game until some later juncture - either when it is cheaper or 800 pts don't mean so much to me. Further to this point, I would re-iterate what others have been saying on this forum - price is relative to the individual - for some, 800 pts is a nothing whilst to others it is the only points they have. To this extent, the game may certainly be worth 800 pts to those who have the luxury of using said points without concern. Therefore, it would be better if Alex had noted the price point being of potential concern to those who can ill afford 800 MSP, as opposed to him stating the game is not worth this amount.

Posted by Alex

@DarkidRising: Raised my ire? Have you read my reviews before? This isn't even close to ire. It's more like moderate amusement than anything else.

Staff
Posted by Rolyatkcinmai

@MrKlorox said:

Really Alex? $10 is too much for this, compared to other 10 and 15 dollar games? I live in a rather poor part of the US, so games are already expensive by default (Steam is my savior). I guarantee $10 is a lot more to me than to you, and I was ready to buy this game after the QL. I already purchased the points, but the trial is still downloading and I haven't gotten to play it yet. Now I'm not certain I should. Out of curiosity how much does a burger and fries cost where you live? When the bombcast was talking about how the cost of living in San Francisco was too high for Subway to offer the $5 footlong deal, I found it silly that one could detect disappointment in their voices.

I live in the richest area of the country (Boston) and this doesn't really seem like something I'd spend $10 on... So ehhhh to that theory.

Posted by mrcraggle

I think the price is relative to quality here. $10 isn't much but for the same price you can get Fez. Say what you will about Phil Fish but Fez is a quality title and this looks on par with a game that you'd see on iOS for a dollar.

Posted by TheHumanDove

His ire is out of controllllllllllll!

But really, the only arcade game I've played for more than a couple days was BF1943. A lot of them just can't keep my attention. This would be one of those

Edited by ProfessorEss

@mrcraggle said:

I think the price is relative to quality here. $10 isn't much but for the same price you can get Fez. Say what you will about Phil Fish but Fez is a quality title and this looks on par with a game that you'd see on iOS for a dollar.

Frankly I think Fez also looks like something that would be a dollar on iOS. Maybe a $1.99.

I don't want to get into the big price/length/quality discussion and I know it's "all subjective" but I am a little confused how a super short, zero difficulty, full retail priced game like Kirby's Epic Yarn manages a perfect score if price is indeed a factor that is being taken into account.

But I digress. Five bucks, ten bucks, Kirby, Fez, The Splatters, who cares about any of this when Jetpack Joyride is free!!! :P

Posted by SpaceInsomniac

A few quick thoughts I'd like to share:

Graphics seem like just about the least important factor for a game like this.

A game review should answer the question "how good is this game at what it does?" rather than "how good is this game compared to other genres?"

I'm not a big fan of this genre either, but it seems to me that the review itself can be wilted down to "Physics puzzle game on the 360 in 2012? Who cares?" and that strikes me as a shame.

Posted by mabber36

hey, don't talk shit about marble blast ultra

it's still the best xbla game

Posted by DarkidRising

@Alex: I said that the game was making your ire rise. That would imply your intense anger is increasing, not that it is fully formed or out of control (). This is a correct use of the term in relation to the tone of your review. Not wanting to start a nit-picking back and forth but...well, you started it :)

Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

AddictIVE!

Posted by Scotto

After seeing the replay videos of the high scores in this game, I think $10 is a more than fair price for people who are into chasing scores. Up to that point, I hadn't really been sold on the game. Makes me wonder if Alex didn't get deep enough into the game's mechanics (or just the leaderboards), to see the crazy shit you're able to pull off later.

Still not sure if I'd actually buy it, since I'm not one of those people who like to become staggeringly good at games like these, but I can see the value. I also think your criticism of the music and sound effects is a bit needlessly snarky, considering the limited resources of the developer, and the fact that the sound design seems completely inoffensive - if a bit bland. And as Ryan pointed out in the QL, I actually liked the various sound cues for the different ways of scoring bonuses (like the bowling pins).

Online
Posted by PJ

@mabber36 said:

hey, don't talk shit about marble blast ultra

it's still the best xbla game

No, just no.

Posted by MrKlorox
@Rolyatkcinmai said:

@MrKlorox said:

Really Alex? $10 is too much for this, compared to other 10 and 15 dollar games? I live in a rather poor part of the US, so games are already expensive by default (Steam is my savior). I guarantee $10 is a lot more to me than to you, and I was ready to buy this game after the QL. I already purchased the points, but the trial is still downloading and I haven't gotten to play it yet. Now I'm not certain I should. Out of curiosity how much does a burger and fries cost where you live? When the bombcast was talking about how the cost of living in San Francisco was too high for Subway to offer the $5 footlong deal, I found it silly that one could detect disappointment in their voices.

I live in the richest area of the country (Boston) and this doesn't really seem like something I'd spend $10 on... So ehhhh to that theory.

Uh... what theory would that be?
Posted by BisonHero

@ProfessorEss said:

I don't want to get into the big price/length/quality discussion and I know it's "all subjective" but I am a little confused how a super short, zero difficulty, full retail priced game like Kirby's Epic Yarn manages a perfect score if price is indeed a factor that is being taken into account.

But I digress. Five bucks, ten bucks, Kirby, Fez, The Splatters, who cares about any of this when Jetpack Joyride is free!!! :P

Kirby's Epic Yarn getting 5 stars still utterly baffles me. I played that game to completion, and it's certainly charming and looks (and sounds) great, but the act of playing it is SO DULL. You have some different forms to add desperately needed gameplay variety, but oh Jesus, that game is so boring by the end.

Rayman Origins is a platformer that is the complete package of enjoyable gameplay and great audio and visuals; Kirby's Epic Yarn has some deficiencies and I can't imagine how playing it felt like a 5-star experience.

Posted by SpunkyHePanda

@MrKlorox said:

Really Alex? $10 is too much for this, compared to other 10 and 15 dollar games? I live in a rather poor part of the US, so games are already expensive by default (Steam is my savior). I guarantee $10 is a lot more to me than to you, and I was ready to buy this game after the QL. I already purchased the points, but the trial is still downloading and I haven't gotten to play it yet. Now I'm not certain I should. Out of curiosity how much does a burger and fries cost where you live? When the bombcast was talking about how the cost of living in San Francisco was too high for Subway to offer the $5 footlong deal, I found it silly that one could detect disappointment in their voices.

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Are you saying people who have a comfortable amount of money shouldn't expect a good value from what they pay? I doubt Alex has enough money to where he's completely lost touch with what constitutes a worthwhile purchase. More than that, he's providing a service to people trying to decide how to spend their money. It's not relevant how much money Alex makes, what matters are the other things you can get for the same price. Like ten candy bars. Is this game better than ten Twix? Not much is, if you ask me.

Posted by MrKlorox
@SpunkyHePanda said:

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Are you saying people who have a comfortable amount of money shouldn't expect a good value from what they pay? I doubt Alex has enough money to where he's completely lost touch with what constitutes a worthwhile purchase. More than that, he's providing a service to people trying to decide how to spend their money. It's not relevant how much money Alex makes, what matters are the other things you can get for the same price. Like ten candy bars. Is this game better than ten Twix? Not much is, if you ask me.

Wha? How? NO! I'm asking how this is a bad value proposition compared to how damn expensive everything else is, especially to someone who lives in NYC where $10 ain't squat. I'm wasn't trying to "get at" anything, other than understanding the bottom line of the review.
Posted by SpunkyHePanda

@MrKlorox said:

@SpunkyHePanda said:

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Are you saying people who have a comfortable amount of money shouldn't expect a good value from what they pay? I doubt Alex has enough money to where he's completely lost touch with what constitutes a worthwhile purchase. More than that, he's providing a service to people trying to decide how to spend their money. It's not relevant how much money Alex makes, what matters are the other things you can get for the same price. Like ten candy bars. Is this game better than ten Twix? Not much is, if you ask me.

Wha? How? NO! I'm asking how this is a bad value proposition compared to how damn expensive everything else is, especially to someone who lives in NYC where $10 ain't squat. I'm wasn't trying to "get at" anything, other than understanding the bottom line of the review.

Fair enough, I apologize. I misread your tone.

Even still, forget about my Twix analogy. He can at least compare it to the value of other games. Anyone's gonna want to get as much as they can for their ten bucks. He's just saying there are other games that may give you more enjoyment for your money.

Edited by SivaniGirl

@Alex: Alex, Didn't you see GiantBomb's Quick Look footage with the replay at the end? Didn't you watch Splatter TV at all to see what this game is capable of and how people are enjoying and doing crazy stuff? The comparison to Angry Birds here is weird as well. It's simply not the same game and it's not aimed for the same gamer. This is definitely a fast-paced skill game and is not suited for the casual gamer.

For me, the game is superb, fun and deep. And while looking at other reviews (not all, of course), the comments here and the stuff that goes on on Splatter TV, I can definitely see that this game has a crowd who's enjoying it very much.

I think your criticism was way too harsh.

Posted by dropabombonit

Seems spot on from what I played of the trail, seemed competent but nothing worth $10

Posted by andriv

@SivaniGirl said:

@Alex: Alex, Didn't you see GiantBomb's Quick Look footage with the replay at the end? Didn't you watch Splatter TV at all to see what this game is capable of and how people are enjoying and doing crazy stuff? The comparison to Angry Birds here is weird as well. It's simply not the same game and it's not aimed for the same gamer. This is definitely a fast-paced skill game and is not suited for the casual gamer.

For me, the game is superb, fun and deep. And while looking at other reviews (not all, of course), the comments here and the stuff that goes on on Splatter TV, I can definitely see that this game has a crowd who's enjoying it very much.

I think your criticism was way too harsh.

So a puzzle game based on flinging things at other things and has a 3 star rating system does not warrant a comparison to angry birds?

Posted by Alex

@SivaniGirl: I didn't watch the Quick Look, but I did watch plenty of the TV videos that were up to see the kinds of trick shots people were pulling off. As I said in the review, the mechanics aren't interesting enough to make it worth trying to figure all that stuff out, and frankly, I just didn't find any of that stuff very exciting at all.

As for the Angry Birds comment, I'm not calling it a ripoff of AB or anything, I just said that it has a few pieces that are similar, alongside other games that it also borrows pieces from. I'm not implying "this game is like Angry Birds but not as good," because that just ain't true. Just using it more as a point of reference, than anything else.

Staff
Posted by SivaniGirl

@Alex: It's a shame it's not your type of game (since you were the one testing it and giving it the low score :)) but thank you very much for answering.

Posted by liako21

is Alex the only one who reviews anything anymore damn.