It Doesn’t Make A Splash
A recent Nintendo Direct showcased a few upcoming downloadable games for the 3DS, raising my expectations about these titles. After all, the backing of the Big N is a pretty well-regarded vote of confidence in my book. Those hopes were dashed, however, after an hour of playing Kersploosh!
Developer Poisoft has created a simple concept: toss an object down a well and try to hit the water. But the overly simplistic manner in which the concept is ingrained into every aspect of the game leaves the final product lacking the punch needed to make a big, splashy impact when it hits the bottom.
There are ten different levels to play through, each unlocked after successfully splashing down in the previous one. Yet it’s not an obstacle-free trek, as the wells are littered from top to bottom with wooden planks and stone platforms. And there’s also a feast of indulgences, such as pizza slices, donuts, and cookies, to hinder your progress. Some obstacles affect the rate of descent, such as upward-blowing fans and the previously mentioned donuts that give a speed boost when their center is travelled through.
Though I take issue with the fact that there are only ten levels, I am more disappointed in the lack of variety and difficulty. Yes, one level has magma-coated walls and another is bathed in dim light, but the journey from top to bottom and the obstacles in between are simply recycled from previous levels. Also, I expected the final level to be a lengthy, arduous journey, but, like the others before it, I successfully splashed down on my first try in under two minutes.
There is an equal number of disposable objects to unlock as there are levels. These ten items, ranging from a stone to an iron ball to a watermelon, all vary in three characteristics: Boost, Speed, and Durability. Boost affects how much of a push you receive when launched through a donut, Speed affects the natural rate of decent, and Durability (measured in hit points) determines how much punishment the object can sustain before smashing into smithereens. The bouncy ball is the beginner’s choice, as it has infinite hit points, though this makes it the surefire way to unlock all the levels with no challenge.
The handling of the objects is a finicky task as well. Most of the speedier objects have sharp turns that require use of the thumb pad, yet drift afterwards, making it all too easy to smash into walls and obstacles. Higher velocities don’t matter if it’s nigh impossible to navigate the swarm of obstructions, and thus every object will likely emerge with a similar finish time.
As an attempt to add story elements, brief monologues or conversations by random, silhouetted individuals take place before the object is tossed down the well. They range from mildly humorous to just plain odd, such as a woman blaming the bouncy ball for her husband leaving her, her daughter falling ill, and her beloved pet fish being eaten by a cat (I think it’s time to see a shrink, lady). I’ll admit the tale of Formula XZK7R, a single liquid droplet that would spawn an army of monsters should it successfully make contact with the water below, had me curious. The snag is that the mutagen has an incredibly high Speed rating and only a single hit point, and I frankly wasn’t intrigued enough for the countless attempts it would require to reach the bottom.
The lure for replayability is to best your high score, ranked by the time it takes to reach the bottom. However, this is only a personal endeavor, as the leaderboard is strictly local. And for some reason your profile name is marked beside each ranked time, even though the system is confined to a single profile, and the game itself does not provide for multiple users like Mario Kart 7 does. The StreetPass allows you share high scores with others, but this feature is only worthwhile for those who actively use it and have a group of friends who’ve also purchased the game. An online leaderboard should have been the bare minimum with respect to multiplayer play.
The visuals do what they need to, but nothing more; and additional polish could have made Kersploosh! stand a little bit taller in the crowd. The draw distance, for example, could have been a lot further, allowing us more time to anticipate the next obstacle. Also, the 3D effect does a nice job with portraying the depth of the well, but the foreground is pummeled with wind streams that make it harder to navigate and induce headaches. The colors are bright and pleasing, but the detailing is minimal, and most items look like stock pictures from a clip art folder.
The musical ditties are lighthearted synthesized creations for the menu screens, with a little bit more of a beat during the adventure down the well. The problem is, there is only one song for every level, and that’s it. And the music is only memorable because you’re forced to listen to it every time (unless you turn off the sound), not because it’s particularly well written. The effects are better though, and the material of the objects resonates when struck by an obstacle.
I think Poisoft missed a golden opportunity to take a unique idea for gameplay on a system that could showcase it the best. More wells, varied obstacles, a larger of selection of music tracks, an online leaderboard – these are just a few things that could have made Kersploosh! better. Instead, we are left with a watered-down (no pun intended) stone-tossing experience that isn’t even worth its $2.99 price tag.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.8 Graphics
The friendly color palette only masks the lack of detail. The 3D depth is nice, but the draw distance could have been further. 2.3 Control
Controlling the object’s journey is inconsistent. There is a new challenge with each object, but the experience is the same. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Aside from some decent sound effects, the sparse soundtrack will get redundant very fast 1.8 Play Value
You’ll be done this game in an hour, and then you’ll want your $2.99 back. 2.3 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best