|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tecmo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eko System||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 9, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
For one, combat is a wrist-breaking waggle-fest that is not only a chore, but also pure frustration when attempting to negotiate some of the games later, more challenging platforms. For early enemies, all you really need to do is spray them with any liquid and theyll wash back to the void from whence they came. However, the game soon starts throwing armored enemies at you that not only require you to waggle-attack their armor off, but you literally have to hit them about 30 times before theyre then vulnerable to spray. Sadly, this is one of the first games to come close to making waggle attacking fun, as you can lock onto enemies with the Z button, and both the rumble and audio feedback make attacking and breaking objects viscerally satisfying. But 30 waggles? Come on!
The other, and main, culprit in the games downfall is the camera. This is the one issue that corrupts SPRay almost fatally. Though you control the various spray liquids with the Wii-mote, the camera doesnt move with the aiming reticule in the same way a first-person shooter on Wii does. The only real control you have over the camera is that of pressing the Z button, which re-positions the camera behind Rays back. The problem there is it moves into position much too slowly and without any level of precision. Since this is a puzzle-platforming game, the poor camera control leads to endless frustration.
Other issues include the lack of any sort of map system, collision detection that will often cause you to become one with the void, and backtracking that is so utterly asinine it rivals the worst of whats out there in terms of retreading old ground. All of SPRays problems are amplified because of just how good the puzzle-platform gameplay and level design are. There are fantastic ideas here that could have made this a paragon for third-party publishers creating games for Wii. In many respects, it still is, but the flaws (and there are others we just dont have space to discuss) are simply too great to overlook.
The games presentation adds insult to injury by rushing players through story elements, giving you no time to grasp whats been said or any reason to identify or sympathize with Ray. Hes a plain-Jane hero from a plain-Jane land, and the story is glaringly underdeveloped.
SPRay has a decent enough look, though almost all of its aspects are PS2 quality. Some environments are more pleasing than others, and nothings ever truly ugly, but a few background elements stick out as though they were relics from generations ago. The framerate stays predominantly steady throughout, though thats not saying much, since its pace is somewhat sluggish. Character models are perhaps the visual highlight, with the cute Wind Waker-esque citizenry exhibiting nice detail and design, though Ray himself isnt anything much to look at.
The games aural complements, however, fare a bit better, and both sound effects and music are pleasing. SPRays a bit frugal in terms of variety, but themes fit nicely alongside the gameplay. There are a few noises that emanate from the Wii-mote that sound like interference from a radio signal, but most other ambient sounds and audio cues are quite satisfying.
SPRay has been one of the most difficult games to evaluate. Its impossible to recommend as a purchase due to a handful of flaws that have a major, negative impact on the gameplay. At On the same token, its bursting with great platforming ideas that rival gamings top franchises. If youre curious, we suggest a rental, but beware of inevitable frustration.
CCC Freelance Writer