There are many physics shooters that have been released for Xbox Live Arcade but thankfully The Splatters presents several innovative mechanics that set it apart from the rest. It will also scratch the competitive itch of physic shooter fans because it includes a unique feature that goes beyond simple leaderboards.
The goal of the game is to shoot the splatter creatures to clear each level of their bombs while racking up points by doing stunts and combos. The bombs can only be detonated by drenching it in the liquid goo of a splatter of the same color. Once a splatter creature hits a target it turns into a cascade of coloured liquid. This premise is the very basis of most physics shooters but The Splatters adds mechanics that differentiates itself beyond putting the player through increasing complex levels.
Aside from shooting a splatter at one of the bombs, many additional tools become available. The ability to turn a standard shot into a splatter missile that increases the liquid splash damage is just one of the abilities that allow the player to pull off difficult shots. The splatter can also jump to change its base position before you fire. Another interesting mechanic is the ability to course correct your shot in mid air, allowing you to make some tight 90 degree shots around obstacles. The most interesting ability is being able to flip the momentum of the physics of the level. While your splatter may be propelling forward towards an obstacle, flipping it will shift the momentum in the opposite direction. While it may be difficult to imagine by reading this it is indeed a very innovative and fun mechanic.
Using the above abilities to explode bombs may count as stunts that will help you earn more points. Performing the different stunts feels very satisfying and will help gain the coveted three star rating at the end of a level. Executing combos is another way to help rack up enough points to get a three star rating. Executing quick combos coupled with different stunts is a blast and adds another level of depth to the standard physics shooter formula.
As with most games, as you progress through the various stages of The Splatters the levels become more complex and require more precise shots. Each level is intelligently designed and offers multiple ways of solving the obstacles. The levels are usually littered with environmental obstacles, some of which can actually aid the player if they perform the right stunt shots. The art that makes up each level has an almost stop motion aesthetic that is distinct to The Splatters. Graphically the game is on par with other Xbox Live Arcade titles but it does boast some fantastic fluid physics.
The Splatters is broken down into three different game modes; Become a talent, Combo Nation, and Master Shots. The Splatters loosely feels like a television show which may lend to the name of the Become a Talent mode. This mode is essentially a walkthrough of each mechanic present in the game but it does offer over thirty stages to give you enough time to become comfortable with each ability. Combo Nation is all about chaining combos together quickly to rack up the highest score before each level is cleared. Master Shots tasks the player with performing specific stunts to clear each bomb. The only problem with the Master Shots mode is the stunts they ask you to perform can be hard to understand unless you dive into the game’s menu system for explanation.
For everyone who likes to boast about their high scores, The Splatters has a very cool mode called Splatter TV. Splatter TV lets you download the level run of the top scores on the leader board. This allows you to see every trick shot they made and how they attained such a high score. The mode helps to add a competitive element to The Splatters that some will no doubt find very important.
The Splatters is not the run of the mill physics shooter that seems to be so popular these days. The core mechanic of including liquid physics to destroy bombs is a fresh take on an increasingly tried and true concept. The added abilities available to control The Splatters is an interesting twist on the physics shooter formula that provides a fun and refreshing experience. The added competitive element of Splatter TV gives high score nuts a great way to get a leg up on the competition and may give the game a dedicated following.
This review is based on a downloadable copy of the 360 version of The Splatters.