Poisoft’s eShop offering Kersploosh! is a difficult game to evaluate, due to its almost-insignificant price point. In an era where even re-releases of decades-old NES titles go for five dollars (like my much-beloved Mega Man 2, which I have effectively purchased for the fourth time now), how does one accurately value a game costing a little more than half of that? Even a mere hour of mediocre gameplay should be considered insane value for that price by most metrics, no?
Fortunately, the gameplay in Kersploosh! is quite above mediocre, and I’ve already put about an hour an a half into it. It’s a difficult game to play for long stretches, especially with the 3D on, but as bite-sized time killers go, I have enjoyed far worse.
The basic concept behind Kersploosh! is dropping an object down a well that is impossibly filled with bizarre objects, many of which have no business being down there. Your job is to maneuver the object through that free-falling obstacle course and hit the water waiting waaaay down at the bottom.
You will eventually have access to ten different wells, each with their own unique quirks, but those are only part of the challenge. The object you drop will also play a significant role in how difficult a job this will be. You begin with access to a simple stone and an indestructible rubber ball, and can unlock up to eight more objects. Each object has different ratings for speed and the boost you gain by diving through a doughnut (I told you there’s weird stuff down there!) as well as different sizes and hit points.
The stone is relatively small and only has 100 HP, while the iron ball (think “shot put”) is about twice the size and much slower, but nearly as indestructible as the rubber ball with 999 HP. At the other extreme are the Matroyshka (Russian nesting doll) that only has five layers (HP), and the ultra-small, ultra-fast mutagen that will explode at the slightest contact (a single HP); these last two are made even more difficult than the others in that they do not regain HP by bursting balloons (again: weird stuff) found on the way down.
Let’s get back to that “value math” again for a second. After less than two hours of play, I gained access to all ten courses and nine out of ten different objects. That’s 90 different experiences, with another ten waiting to show up. For three bucks — or approximately three cents per unique combination of object and course. At a per-item value like that, what do you have to lose by purchasing this game? Even if you only ever use some of the objects (I will never be good enough to get those two ultra-fragile objects all the way down), that’s still an absurd value.
And it’s not like the game isn’t fun to play, either. Using the circle pad to navigate seems simple enough, but the physics at work here can and will conspire against you at times. The 3D also might actually work against you, as obstacles can flash past you so quickly that it distracts you from seeing the ones coming up and moving your eyes around to keep track of everything can cause a lack of lenticular focus. And that’s before we bring up any potential motion sickness issues, or how these zooming tunnels will haunt you whenever you close your eyes after an extended session.
But at the end of the day, Kersploosh! is all about the fall. The strange objects and even weirder wells make for an entertaining combination every time. Be warned, however, that this game can be really hard. Until you gain access to a more durable object, you might want to stick with the rubber ball for a while. It took me an embarrassing number of times to clear even the first well with the surprisingly-fragile stone, but using the ball to access all ten wells will maximize your options right out of the gate and give you a taste of what’s to come. I have completed each well with a 100-HP-or-weaker object, so it can be done. It just isn’t easy.
Each well records the 15 best clear times, including which object was used for each successful run. Being able to automatically trade your best times via StreetPass seems like it could be interesting as long as enough people are playing the game. And for three dollars, why shouldn’t you be one of them?
Pros: Basically impossible to not get your money’s worth out of this unique experience
Cons: Some obstacles are basically traps, which seems like cheating