Monday, September 27, 2010

App O' The Mornin: Splode Review

This has been free for a couple of days, so check the app store. Otherwise, it’s $1 It's back to $2.

I’m not quite sure what to make of Splode, since it’s really not the kind of game I normally like. In fact, I wouldn’t call it a game at all, or even a puzzle. It’s more like a kind of soothing activity with a bit of physics puzzling squeegeed across the surface.

Splode is so minimalist it’s more like a zen meditation than a puzzle. The entire game is made up of the same single screen puzzle repeated over and over again, with the most minute variations for each new level. The input is a single touch on the screen, and everything else is chain reaction.

I’m not saying that you set something up and touch the screen to trigger it: I’m saying that you literally only touch the screen once.

Each level begins as a black-and-white image of the night sky, framed by pine needles and flowers. Floating through this scene are “splodes,” which are little puffballs that slowly bounce off the edges of the screen and each other. When you touch the screen, any splodes nearby will activate, turn from black-and-white to color, and move away from the shockwave.

This begins the chain reaction, as each triggered splode travels a short distance, explodes, and triggers more splodes. The goal is to clear a minimal number of splodes from the screen, the changing day to night and black-and-white to color.

There’s no strategy that I could discern, and no real trick to solving each screen. The only variations are the increasing number of splodes on the screen and the number of them which need to be cleared.

The game also includes a “score attack” mode, which is basically just a continual version of the regular game with increasing splodes and a fixed number of taps.

This is not a game at all, but more like some kind of strange meditation aid. The calming harp music, the soothing graphics, and the nonexistent gameplay are clearly meant to create a mood to be enjoyed rather than a puzzle to be solved.

Strangely enough, I did kind of enjoy it. I played 40 levels in minimal time, mostly because I kept expecting something to, y’know … happen. (I’m funny that way.) When it didn’t, I just went with the flow, and enjoyed watching the little puffballs float around and change color. I guess it’s kind of like a lava lamp, which raises the distinct probability that someone using mind-altering substances would probably think This is the greatest thing ever, man. Anyone looking for an actual game, however, should probably look elsewhere.


Kevin E. Schlabach said...

Make that $1.99

Thomas L. McDonald said...

Fixed it. Thanks for the tip.

I wouldn't have paid $2 for it. There's just no there there.

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