Spectraball Reviews

TSA Score for this game: 230
Posted on 29 July 17 at 01:08
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Spectraball [Review By Uzzbuzz]

Spectraball is a 3d marble platformer game. Some of you may be familiar with other games of the genre such as Marble Blast Ultra. Unfortunately these games are made less and less these days. The goal is to simply make it to the exit in one piece through seven different levels, ranging from a mountainous region, to a desert and even outer space, all the while battling against various obstacles determined to knock you off the platforms into oblivion. There are a few different powerups to choose from as well which create an added layer of strategy to the simple system.

Mechanics/Gameplay – The main mechanic is obviously rolling around (at the speed of sound). There are many platforming elements across the levels, such as ramps and elevator platforms and obstacles to try and knock you off the stage. The core of the game is very simple and feels very similar to the other games of the genre, but at least it is done very well. Spectraball has 4 modes: A main platforming mode, arena, laser jump, and crate chaos. Each mode allows you to pick a ‘character’ so to speak. Each character has a certain powerup which are used on a cooldown. Of them, my favorite is teleport, as you can save yourself from certain death by strategically teleporting back out of harm’s way. In the main mode, the player must make their way through the levels in order to reach the goal point, competing for the best time on each level. In the arena, enemy marbles are spawned into a small platform in the sky, and their goal is to knock you off and you must survive as long as possible. Laser jump is also exactly what it sounds like: you begin in a room with a laser along the floor. The goal here is to keep jumping over it as it moves back and forth. Finally, we come to crate chaos, which has the goal of maneuvering your marble so that it continues to bounce off the floating explosive crates. The three bonus modes are just that: bonuses. They are simple extras to the game, but you will get the most out of the main mode. 7.5/10

Fun Factor – You usually cannot go wrong with a marble game unless it is completely unplayable. This genre is strange, as there seems to be a huge market for them, but hardly anyone makes marble platformers still. The point is, is that this game is tons of fun. Even the bonus modes, which are as simple as can be, are still fun because the game is well made and a lot of work was put into the level design. It is extremely satisfying to find secrets and shortcuts throughout the level to continue to improve upon your times. The game itself should not take more than a couple hours for completing the main game mode, but it is definitely worth playing, so pick it up during a sale. 7.5/10

Graphics/Animation – The graphics are beautiful, especially for a simple marble game released in 2008. Even though the levels are quite linear, there is still a large sense of exploration due to the vibrant worlds. What makes the graphics really stand out is how contrasted the levels are. Every level is completely distinct from one another, and if any assets have been reused, it is difficult to notice, as it seems every level was well thought out and hand crafted. There are levels where you’re rolling around halfpipes near molten structures, and others where you’re hurtling through space to try and hit a target platform. The whole team definitely had a great working relationship as it would be very difficult to coordinate the art and level design in the way they did with such a small team if the communication was poor. 8/10

Music/Sound – Ah music; this music is alright, and fitting of the current theme of the level/mode, but it is lacking much notability. That is not to say that the music is bad, but it is forgettable. There is a lot of drum and bass, so if you’re into that, you’ll enjoy the soundtrack. On the other hand, the sound effects are very responsive and give good feedback to the player, but sometimes they are super annoying (elevators in the final level). 6/10

Replayability – Once you complete the main game you probably will not play this much more unless you are an achievement hunter. The bonus modes will occupy a little bit of your time but once you get those achievements, there’s not much that is satisfying in going for a highscore in them. For all you speedrunners out there, there are many shortcuts and tricks to be developed and discovered that will keep you playing for a while. As I write this however, there is not that much competition in the speedrun community, so once you get a decent run in, you won’t see much improvement often after that. For example, when I was going for the deathless run of the game, I ended up with a top 5 time on some levels, and there was still a lot of room to improve. So, if you enjoy self-competition, then by all means, you’ll have a (marble) blast improving your times. 5.5/10

Level Design – Wow. As mentioned before, the level design is well done. To be honest, I struggle to find a marble platformer with poor level design; these guys are geniuses~ Maybe that’s why I like the genre so much. I wish there was more to the game, or a sequel, as the main game goes by so quickly, but you are likely to enjoy every minute of it. There are no jumps that are super unfair, but the game still offers an adequate challenge, which is reflected in its’ achievement variety as well. The levels are designed in such a way that anyone can complete them casually eventually, but if you’re going for good times or not dying, or both, then more adept gamers will still have a good experience. Some shortcuts I’ve found allowed me to jump over entire walls that I do not think the developers intended, which is part of the beauty in the design; it’s super flexible. 8.5/10

Achievements –
The achievements in Spectraball are not only well balanced, covering all aspects of the game and then some, but they are fair and challenging too. Nothing relies on repetitive, boring tasks, and each one will feel like it should.

First off there are seven achievements for level completion; one for each. Classic achievement design so it does not need much mention. Secondly there are two miscellaneous achievements; one for reaching a 100mph max speed, which surprisingly comes early. There is also a second one for having an air time of 7 seconds, which you are pretty much guaranteed to get in some later levels. Thirdly, there is a single achievement for each bonus mode for reaching a certain score threshold. These vary in difficulty slightly, but should be earnable without too much struggle.

Finally, the golden achievement of Spectraball: The Impossible. What The Impossible requires of you is to beat every level in order without falling off the map. A daunting feat, but one manageable with a little bit of practice. Using powerups to your advantage is key to saving yourself, if your reflexes are quick enough. This is because you can use the teleport powerup to play it safe and on sections where you think you may die, you can set up a teleport, and if you’re about to fall out, you can use the powerup and bring yourself to safety before it’s too late. Good luck fellow hunters! 7/10

+ Beautiful hand crafted levels
+ Smooth learning curve
+ Tons of fun

- Very short
- Not much to do after you beat it

Overall Score: 7.1/10
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