Hands-on / The Splatters (XBLA)

It’s not often I hear of a game stemming from efforts to help treat medical conditions in people; The Splatters is an exception. Talking with Niv Fisher of SpikySnail Games, the game is the result of his years spent programming physics-based surgical simulations to help doctors know how the body will react when worked on. With that sort of pedigree, it’s no surprise The Splatters is a game of skill – with a little luck thrown in – where the object is… to die. You see, these ever smiling, colorful little blobs are self-aware and know their lifespan is extremely short, so they decide to “die in style.” And what better way to accomplish that than by blowing stuff up? I’d say none.

On the surface, The Splatters is a very simple game. The left stick controls the direction in which I want the currently selected blob to go, with the B button launching it. Once airborne, the blob hurtles toward the sheer destruction of some spikes, a pointy ledge, or even just smashing into the ground, with a cheerful grace, the impact causing the blob to turn into a liquid which ignites the bombs. Points are scored based on style and the number of bombs destroyed by a single blob, with combos able to be chained together, raising the point totals. Simple, or so I thought.

After playing the initial maps, Fisher took the controller and started working some odd magic with the blobs. He agreed the game could be completed using only the straightforward controls described above, but there’s tons more underneath that simple one-button action. Fisher sees The Splatters as a competitive game between friends, each wanting to out-score the other, which is where the advanced controls come into play.

He showed off the ability to jump before launching blobs to their death, a time rewind control, and an after-touch type control, all significantly increasing his score due to the style in which he completed the levels. Not only that, but he said that if a level is completed with some of The Splatters remaining, not only do they carry over into the next but any multiplier does as well.

In the end, The Splatters is a quick game to pick up and play but with so many intricacies to the deeper gameplay, it will take skill and perseverance to master. Add in the leaderboards to challenge friends and tons of different levels, I think SpikySnail has a potential massive hit on their hands. Don’t let this one slip by when it is released sometime in 2012.