The Splatters: Is it the new XBLA explosion?

April 16, 2012

The Splatters is a physics puzzler with an emphasis on style. Throughout all three of the game modes, your goal is to use the titular Splatters to explode all of the bombs on a level. And since you accrue points based on how many stunts you execute along the way, you’ll find yourself replaying already-completed levels in the quest to get that third star or rise up on the leaderboards ahead of your friends.

The first game mode, and where you’re required to start, is Become a Talent. Become a Talent is where you’ll find the standard puzzle game structure of a tutorial, a few levels, another tutorial explaining a new stunt, then a few more levels, and so on until you’ve learned everything you need for the next two modes.

Your goal in each mode is simple. Detonate all of the bombs in each level and score as many points as possible along the way. The stunts you’ll need to use to achieve this goal include Air Strike, which allows you to fling a Splatter across the map and then change its trajectory in mid-leap, and Reverse, which lets you reverse the momentum of every object in the playfield. Others will trigger when you meet certain criteria, like Sniper which you get for hitting a bomb from across the map. Stunts chain together, and you’ll gain higher point values from playing quickly in addition to playing well, and if you want to chain combos between rounds (you do), you’ll need to keep a spare Splatter available so that you can start a run before the next set of bombs have appeared, (The stunt countdown is running all the time, even when the board is resetting for another run.)

After you’ve completed the Become a Talent mode, Combo Nation mode and Master Shots mode are both unlocked. True to their names, Combo Nation is all about completing levels without breaking your combo, and Master Shots mode is all about taking one great shot to clear a level. Both of the modes use the same mechanics as Become a Talent so as soon as you’ve completed that you’re ready to move on. In the end, it becomes clear that Become a Talent is a lengthy tutorial for the other two modes, but it isn’t treated as one; there are full leaderboards and all of your stunts are available to you.

Those leaderboards are important, too. They will keep you coming back and competing with friends and strangers alike to get the highest score possible. And borrowing a page from Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts’s book, you can look through the leaderboard and download replays of the best players to see either what you’re doing wrong or what they’re doing better. If you are struggling to attain the three-star score of 500,000 and the top player has a score of 1.4 million, he clearly knows something that you don’t, and now you can watch his run to see exactly what he did to attain such a high score.

The Splatters is a wonderfully addictive game with excellent physics, a great aesthetic, and just enough hooks to keep you coming back for more. It also adheres to the old arcade standards of “just one more” leading into wondering how you’ve been playing so long, and “I can do better than that” leading to new runs and all sorts of excitement when a run goes perfectly.

Pros: Keeps you coming back for more, great leaderboards
Cons: Easy to get caught up trying over and over for three stars on a level instead of moving on

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.