One of the appealing factors of portable gaming, both on the console and Smartphone, is that it is more accepting of simple but substantial concepts. The use of an alarm clock as means for gaining points in Wake-Up Club for the Vita or tilting your phone to land on the perfect platform in Doodle Jump shows off how experimental these platforms are suited to off-the-wall ideas. Nintendo is no stranger to this, with Tokyo Crash Mobs showing off how far into left field it can go. Its latest game, Kersploosh!, only furthers that statement and is a fairly fun game — for as long as it lasts.
In Kersploosh!, you guide an object down a well in hopes of hitting the bottom with a satisfying splash. Along the way, you encounter various elements that affect your object. The donuts give you a speed boost to reach the bottom quicker, but only if you hit the center of the pastry. Balloons give your object some durability by increasing its HP. Everything else is designed to reduce the HP of the object, depending on the type of object and the velocity with which you hit it. Hitting a slice of pizza or a cookie, for example, may hurt, but not as much as hitting a fan blade or a steel gate. Once the object hits the water, the game ends.
When you start up the game, you're given one well and two objects. The first object is a small stone with average statistics, and you'll learn to only hit donut holes and balloons on your way down since the stone isn't very durable. Completing a level opens up a new one, and in some cases, a new object with different statistics. Despite being the tutorial level, the first stage is quite difficult because you'll immediately encounter moving obstacles and strategically placed steel plates. With such a fragile stone, you'll fail quite often, so you'll need several tries to pass the first level. With such a high chance of failure this early in the game, impatient gamers may not try to progress further than that. Luckily, the developers saw this coming and created a compromise of sorts.
The second object in your immediate arsenal is a rubber ball. It comes with the drawback of being able to see less of your immediate area, and the stats are only a little better than the small stone. It can also bounce upward whenever it hits an object, making it a poor choice for those wanting to finish levels quickly. However, it has an infinite amount of HP, making it perfect to open up levels since nothing is ever destroyed. The game only has 10 levels, so a player can plow through the game in about half an hour, making it one of the quickest games you'll ever finish.
If that's all you wanted to do, then it would be disappointing. However, the game opens up when you treat it as a bunch of time trials. Part of this is fueled by the inclusion of leaderboards in every stage, complete with the object used to garner such times. Another part that hooks players is the acquisition of objects that significantly change the gameplay. The small stone and rubber ball are joined by things like an iron ball, a jewel, a mutagen droplet, and a watermelon. Not only do they sport different stats that determine their droplet speed and HP. but some items, like the wooden fish, are trickier to control due to their shape and aerodynamics — or lack thereof. Trying to get a plate through constantly shifting holes can be tough, but a mutagen droplet can be maddening because it only has 1 HP.
As stated before, the maddening difficulty can be a turn-off for some gamers who were expecting this to be casual fare. Even with the inclusion of some backstory for each object, most gamers won't have the patience to break time records just to unlock an even stranger object. For those who enjoy this kind of stuff, there are other drawbacks. The small selection of levels and objects are fine, but with seemingly no way to expand on both categories, you can quickly exhaust all of your options. What really disappoints, though, are the leaderboards. While the game utilized the StreetPass feature, there's no SpotPass feature. As a result, only local leaderboards are counted, and you can't see nationwide or global leaderboards for each stage and object unless you take your 3DS on your travels. Worse yet, there's no option for multiple profiles to exist on the same system, so if no one around you has the game, you can only compete with yourself. Considering the limited appeal of the game, this is a rather big omission.
There isn't much to the game as far as sound goes. Effects are limited to object collisions and the splash of water, and each object makes sounds as it breaks down due to HP loss. The music is fine, but the variety isn't there. You have about three songs, and the stages always play the same tune no matter the environment. This is certainly a situation where using outside sources for background music isn't a bad idea.
The same can be said for the graphics. There's some cel-shading in the game, but that isn't shared by every object, making you wonder why it was used so sparsely. There are only four environment types within each well, and with the wells repeat the textures of said environments, so it all begins to meld together after a while. It isn't a looker by any means, but it gets the job done. If you plan to play the game, do so in 2-D only. The 3-D effect is done well enough because of the sense of speed and added depth, but the presence of the contrails is very distracting and annoying, negating any possible benefits.
Kersploosh! is the type of casual game you'd expect on a phone and not necessarily on a dedicated portable console. The concept is simple, the experiences are meant for very quick play, and the scope is limited. The difficulty, though, limits its audience to dedicated gamers, and while that would be fine, the limited leaderboard system doesn't encourage them to play this for very long. At $2.99, it is a tempting enough proposition for the fun it delivers, but it is ultimately a pass unless you have other likeminded players around you.
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