It seems like many recent indie games have been inspired by the classic bubble-busting gameplay of Buster Bros. Spheroids does so by mixing it into a 2D platform adventure so let's get ready to bust it up yet again.
Spheroids puts you in the shaky boots of Lucas, a nervous Canadian boy who must put an end to the dastardly alien Spheroids who wish to turn everything in his cubic world round. It sounds crazy but as a Canadian myself, I can relate. Anyway, the gameplay is ripped straight from Pang (AKA Buster Bros.) with platforming segments woven in between. For the unfamiliar, Pang involves shooting up at bubbles in order to pop and split them into smaller bubbles that eventually disappear when shot. It gets crazy watching them split as the screen fills with tons of small enemy spheres. The platforming portions will have you running, jumping, reversing gravity (like in Mega Man 5), swinging from the ceiling (like in Trine), and teleporting to the background (like in Mutant Mudds). This sounds like a load of fun and thankfully, it is! The controls are spot-on and the action-packed blend of gameplay elements provides a varied and enjoyable campaign from start to finish.
One thing that Spheroids excels at is its silly sense of humour. It won't have you rolling in the aisles but the goofy scenes between Lucas and his scientist friend Otto will keep a smile on your face. The distinct visual style of Lucas' world is full of colour and blocky textures that do a great job of establishing just how cubic his reality is. As you progress through the adventure, you'll visit many real-world locations including Japan, Brazil, Egypt, Russia, Kenya, India, Greece, and finally, Easter Island. Each one has its own colour scheme and backgrounds that provide some decent visual variety. The sound effects are quite satisfying while the music suits each area very well and is a delight to listen to. Overall, this is an enjoyable game and its cheerful presentation only amplifies the fun.
As you can tell by the impressive list of locations, Spheroids' campaign is rather long. You'll play for hours and still have much more to see and do. On top of this, the amount of variety implemented throughout keeps things fresh. Some parts force you to move along quickly as the ground falls apart while other segments have you face an insane amount of enemies at once in a closed-off arena.
Although there is plenty of variety, the fact that there are no actual boss fights is a missed opportunity. It's such an imaginative game that I was expecting to see equally creative boss fights yet there are none. Speaking of variety, it's also disappointing that there's only one mode to play through and it doesn't even feature any collectibles or scoring system. As a result, there is almost no replay value. I would love to climb leaderboards, find hidden goodies, and unlock additional content yet these features are unfortunately absent.
Don't get me wrong, Spheroids is an incredibly enjoyable game but it has its downsides. For example, there's almost no punishment for perishing since you start shortly before you bit the dust with all of the enemies that you defeated and doors that you opened remaining that way. This takes away from the challenge to the point where even the hardest parts can be passed by chipping away without using much skill. In fact, the biggest challenge I had was with the glitches. By the time I beat the campaign, my Wii U crashed about a dozen times. Also, a couple of moments had me stuck in the ceiling or suspended in mid-air without any way to break free. I hope the developer fixes these issues soon because they take a great deal of fun out of the experience. That being said, I won't let it affect my score much because these problems may eventually get fixed and could be better depending on which console you play.
Spheroids is one of the most impressive platformers that I played in recent memory. If it had more replay value, a satisfying sense of challenge, and no glitches then I'd consider it the best Buster Bros. experience yet. However, it's still up there as a must-play for both Pang and 2D platformer enthusiasts as Lucas' adventure is one you won't soon forget.
- + Fantastic combo of classic Buster Bros. gameplay and action-packed platforming
- + Silly humour and colourful presentation
- + Lengthy campaign that's full of variety
- - Lack of replay value, scoring system, boss battles, and additional modes
- - Too forgiving when it comes to retries
- - Currently too many glitches and bugs