Do you remember the wire loop games you’d often see at your local fun fairs? The ones where you attempt to guide a metal hoop along a wired path whilst not allowing the two to ever touch. They were brutally tough but very rewarding if you made it to the end without setting off the buzzer (largely helped by the prize you would receive for doing so). Spiral Splatter feels kind of like a more modern take on this idea – a true test of not only your nerve but your patience too.
In Spiral Splatter your goal is simple – move a ball through a series of short levels avoiding contact with any walls in the process. To its credit, the game does a decent job of upping the difficulty and complexity of its levels at a fair rate, throwing new obstacles and tools your way the further you progress. For example, you’ll find the first few sets of levels reliant on simply moving around increasingly complicated tunnels whether its right angles, zig-zags or even spirals. Advance further and you’ll soon be introduced to teleporting spots, switches and moving walls that, while never too taxing on the brain, do make life tougher when trying to reach the goal.
The idea is a perfectly functional one sure, and there is some enjoyment to be had from racing around grids gracefully while avoiding obstacles, figuring out the best route. However with Spiral Splatter what you see is what you get, the already basic idea never going anywhere interesting. In my playthrough of the game’s only mode at no point did I find myself surprised by its ideas or even excited – rather it was just a case of going from level to level and switching off my brain.
Spiral Splatter feels like a smartphone game and this is evident as soon as you load it up. The menu is overly simple and in-game visuals while clear feel rather uninspired. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that -sometimes it’s nice to waste some time in these sorts of unsophisticated and basic experiences however brilliant and stimulated this is not.
At just over 100 levels, Spiral Splatter isn’t terribly long with most only lasting seconds. The game’s three-star ranking system might see you want to repeat past levels by shaving seconds off to meet the optimum target time, but with little reward outside the unlocking of more levels you’ll likely end up doing just enough to get by.
Controlling your ball is handled entirely with the control stick, an instrument that feels functional but far from ideal especially when dealing with the Joy-Con. Simply finishing a stage shouldn’t pose much of an issue, but the moment you try to speed things up in order to hit the three star target time things become a lot more difficult and not in a good way. The control sticks on the Joy-Con simply don’t measure up to those on other controllers out there and make moving in a straight line or around corners tougher than they need be. Touch screen could have been a neat alternative but unfortunately, no such feature is included in the Switch version. Instead, it’s a case of getting used to the single control scheme on offer here, warts and all.
Spiral Splatter is your typical smartphone port – visually simple, light on content and lacking some features in the move to Switch. While the core idea works, everything else about the game feels uninspired resulting in an experience that’s fine for an hour or two but likely forgotten the moment you move onto greener pastures.