(3DS eShop)

Splash or Crash (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Splash or Crash Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mike Mason

All's well that ends well

Simple though it might be, dropping things from a huge height is still pretty entertaining. There's the catharsis of just letting something go, the satisfying sound when gravity takes its hold and an object plummets to its final destination. The plop as a stone reaches the bottom of a well can be deeply gratifying, for example – but have you ever wondered just what happens as the stone descends? We'd venture “probably not”, but Poisoft certainly has.

Splash or Crash (Kersploosh! in North America) takes that simplest of entertainment forms, removes any risk of water contamination, adds some surreal twists and distils it into an addictive, fast-paced video game. It sees the innards of wells re-imagined as gauntlets of foodstuffs, wooden barricades and fans. Reaching the bottom of a well isn't as easy as it seems, apparently – rather than a straightforward drop, you have to dodge obstacles and fly through the middle of floating doughnuts to speed up.

It's a time attack game, so you need to hit those boosts if you want the best score on the leaderboards. The problem is, the faster you go, the tougher it is to control your object and see what's immediately before you. You also have a limited health meter, so you have to balance speed with safety in order to complete your descent. Crash into too many things and there'll be no splash at the bottom. You can hit balloons on the way to bump up your health a little, though.

While each well usually takes just 60 – 90 seconds to zoom down, those moments are often filled with tension. There's too much going on to memorise them completely, so you have to rely on your reactions alone for the most part. We can't count the number of times we started a level feeling relaxed and ended it only to realise that we'd developed a crushing grip around our 3DS; it has a habit of ramping the difficulty up halfway down a well, but it rarely feels frustrating with it.

There are ten wells to play with, and we unlocked them all within an hour – and it only took that long because we played the first couple a lot before we moved on. However, it seems that this is what Poisoft intended, as one of the initial objects on offer is an invincible rubber ball. You're meant to smash through and gain access to all levels, because that's where the game really begins.

Those first runs are about discovery and the test of taking on a new course without prior knowledge; they're hard, but they're not insurmountable. The raw challenge comes in besting times, and here Splash or Crash proves itself extremely compelling. The relatively short length of levels means that it's all too easy to have just one more go – and just because you've completed a stage once, don't expect to beat it every time unless your reactions are consistently perfect.

There are just as many objects as there are wells. Each of the ten has its own properties – different boost speed, size, shape – that drastically change how you play. They're all introduced with ridiculous short story skits that explain how each object got tossed down the well, which are lighthearted and amusing; they can be easily skipped if you want to get right into the action, though.

The standard stone is small, nippy and can be bumped around a bit thanks to its not-too-shabby 100 HP; the rubber ball can survive anything, but its bouncy nature can delay progress if you hit an obstacle. An iron ball takes up a larger portion of the screen, making it more difficult to see upcoming dangers, though its hefty 999 HP practically guarantees that you'll eventually make it to the bottom. On the other end of the scale there are non-circular objects that turn differently and can only take a few hits; there's even one, for the most hardboiled players, that expires with a single hit. Drips need not apply.

The controls are tight, though initially some objects feel slightly flimsy; clipping into things that you didn't expect, for example. This feels intentional though, as Splash or Crash is just as much about learning the objects as it is about working out the courses, and once you've put in the practice things click into place. There's a great variety among the ten: you have to adapt to each one, learning how they twist, how fast they move. You can't transplant your play style 1:1 between them. You can absolutely master one but fail pitifully on another; each has a different feeling, so there's something for every ability level.

Splash or Crash also features some of the best stereoscopic 3D on 3DS. The view stretches far, as if you're looking right down the shaft of a well, and while it's still absolutely playable in 2D we think that the outstanding 3D really adds something. It's easy on the eyes either way, with a fitting cartoon style that's reminiscent of Hydroventure: Spin Cycle's environments. The menus are equally appealing; they're clean and open, all big buttons and bright colours.

There are only a handful of tunes in the soundtrack, but they're all pitched perfectly. There's bouncy, almost comedic music over the absurd story introductions and a frenetic techno piece during levels really fits the pace. The standout, however, is the title track: a sunny ditty that shouts out “spring time!”, filled with lilty drums and bird song. We could happily sit and play it on loop for minutes at a time.

There are definitely some things that could be expanded. There are local leaderboards which store up to 15 times per well, but we would have liked to see online functionality for these as well; you can exchange scores via StreetPass, at least. It might have been interesting to see an endless mode of some description that pushed you to survive the drop as long as possible, too.

Conclusion

Don't let the small number of levels put you off: Splash or Crash is not a game to be played through once and put aside. It's an addictive, well-presented game that's all about honing your abilities with each of the unique objects to score the best times possible. Though we wish its leaderboards extended online as well, Splash or Crash comes well recommended.

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User Comments (39)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#1

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Pretty much agree with this. Solid game for the money you're paying. Plays like the higher end iOS games that have similar gameplay mechanic

Void

#3

Void said:

I might try it, I hate the american name though. :P (It just sounds werid to say, y'know?)

AyeHaley

#4

AyeHaley said:

It's a fun game, especially for only €3! Only one thing bothered me, you only get to see if you've unlocked anything by going back to the main menu. Only after breaking my record for the 1st well for the fifth time I realized I had to select "main menu" to see my reward.

Side note: Anyone else in the EU frustrated we're still not getting any stars for our eShop purchases even though they show up on Club Nintendo? :/ I've checked the website's news archive and it says somewhere we would get stars for every game we've bought and will buy somewhere in 2012...
The only games giving me stars are Retail (incl retail downloads) and Wii Virtual Console games.
I'm not the only one right? I still need to receive stars for 60+ digital games.

Grubdog

#6

Grubdog said:

It's a fun game but I disagree that the controls are "tight". The 3DS nub doesn't feel precise or consistent enough for some of these maneuvers (at least on my worn-out regular 3DS, not sure how the XL one holds up). Touch screen controls would have helped a lot with precision.

Some of the environments are amazing though, one level gave me Mario Galaxy vibes.

Mason

#9

Mason said:

@Grubdog I found them floaty at first, but after some practice I no longer had any issues, completed levels without taking any hits on repeat goes, etc. I think it's partially down to learning the objects; I was useless with the five-hit object (I don't want to spoil any of the items!) when I first unlocked it, now I have no problem. I was yearning for D-Pad controls in my first hour, but Circle Pad has suited me fine through the last four hours!

SMW

#10

SMW said:

I'll definitely give it a go once it releases in the states!

chewytapeworm

#11

chewytapeworm said:

I never thought this looked too good from watching the trailer, but you can't argue with the asking price.

Vallu

#12

Vallu said:

How do you unlock the "rock" below Mutagen (water drop) and next to the matermelon? I've been trying to unlock it for so long...

JetArtois

#13

JetArtois said:

Might give this ago I reckon. Got a bit of wedge on there from buying NightSky. Nice review pal.

LunaticPandora

#14

LunaticPandora said:

@Vallu I assume you mean above the Mutagen? There is nothing "below" it - its on the bottom row. I would also like to know. I would think you have to beat a level using every object, but damn, i can't beat any levels using the Mutagen - or the doll for that matter :(

Username_123

#15

Username_123 said:

Did we play the same game? This game is bad. I get that it's cheap and that might influence your opinion on it, but Gunman Clive is around the same price and is a lot better designed and a lot longer, and you gave that the same score.

This game will last you 20 minutes, tops. And it's not like an enriching bitesized indie title like Clive, it just plays like one of those weird games you'd get on old PS1 demo disks. The camera is awful (you can barely see the path ahead of you), and it doesn't help that the objects and obstacles are completely inconsistent and themeless. It feels like they just blindly pasted objects into each map. You WILL bump somewhere along the lines, and lose all momentum. And losing momentum in this game is like losing momentum in a Sonic game. It just feels wrong. I suppose you can learn the maps off, but it will take you a long time as levels are not divided into individual sections, but they're just endless streams of random and inconsistent objects which would prove very hard to memorize.

EVERY one of the 9 maps available are the same, very little varies across the game, except maybe a wall texture or two. I kid you not.

The objects you can unlock have pointless attributes. You can get objects that are faster, but with less HP. But the thing is, when you're going at high speed it's almost impossible to see where you're going, and you will likely lose all your HP from bumping into everything.

Also, the game has one music track, for the whole thing. And it's absolutely dreadful.

Did I mention you have to go to the main menu every time you want to go to the next map? Talk about a forced way to add longevity to this title. If they took that feature out, you would have this game in and out in 10 minutes flat.

Oh and don't get me started on the "fake donuts".

3/10 game, at best.

AyeHaley

#16

AyeHaley said:

You have to know when to or not to use those donut boosts. There isn't a lot of content but its about learning those tracks with an object of your choosing.

WildMan

#17

WildMan said:

What's with the different American and European names for how many eshop games? All it does is confuse people. BTW "Kersploosh!" sounds better to me than "Splash or Crash".

McGruber

#18

McGruber said:

No online leaderboards though? I'm sorry, but any game that has leaderboards should have online leaderboards. Especially games published by Nintendo, who have a really bad reputation with online. Some kind of online interactivity is a big plus for these mediocre eShop games, and not having it severely hinders the likelihood I buy most of the time....

Username_123

#19

Username_123 said:

@AyeHaley

How can you know when to use them if the objects in the distance are out of sight until you're boosted right into them?

And if this game was designed to be learned, most of that learning is in memorizing the levels. If that is the case, they should have done a better job of making the components of the level recognizable and ordered them in a consistent way. As it is, the levels are absolutely homogeneous and would require far more effort than they deserve, or should be expected of us, to memorize.

@Lionsgate

There's no leaderboards. You can challenge your friends on spotpass, I guess? But knowing my friends, they'll finish it and never come back to it, as I've done. There really isn't an incentive to get good times.

Vallu

#20

Vallu said:

@LunaticPandora

Yes, sorry. I meant above. I have already cleared a level as all the rocks but still didn't unlock it. I cleared the first level as mutagen. How to unlock that? :(

RR529

#21

RR529 said:

I'll definitely drop some cash for this, once it arrives in NA this week :)

Birdman

#22

Birdman said:

Definitely getting it now. I could use a new pick-up-and-play title for lighter gaming sessions.

Dpullam

#23

Dpullam said:

This game seems interesting but I'm not sure if the value for the price you pay is there. I'll keep this game in mind though.

Dpishere

#25

Dpishere said:

This game looks entertaining, though I am not positive that this is the type of game that can really "hook" me.

Sephariel

#27

Sephariel said:

@Username_123
You dont have to go to Main menu to play the next level, just press Select stone. There you will select the stone and then the next level

TheXboxHero

#28

TheXboxHero said:

Kerploosh! was definately a must buy for me and thanks to the NL review, now this justifies even more that I must buy this! Yay!

NiBar

#29

NiBar said:

It's a great little game :) but frustating that the terrible techno music can't be switched off :(

ThreadShadow

#30

ThreadShadow said:

This would be such a great mini-game for a new 3DS or Wii U Zelda. Link travels around the countryside and whenever/where ever he sees a well he can play this mini game for surprises etc.!

LittleIrves

#32

LittleIrves said:

The most appealing thing sounds like the mini-introductions to how each object found itself in the well. Reminds me of the Smooth Moves position cards. Probably not nearly as charming/funny, but I might give this a go.... worried about longevity, though.

DePapier

#33

DePapier said:

This game is just crazy. I dare anyone to go under 40 seconds on the First Fall. (I did it!!)

Drawdler

#34

Drawdler said:

Geez! I didn't even know it was out! :O
Well I'll go download it now! No matter how short it is, I've been looking forward to it for a while.

Capt_N

#37

Capt_N said:

As much as I want to, I last Saturday afternoon d/l'd Gunman Clive, & have been thoroughly enjoying it. I don't get 3ds points cards often, so when I get something off the eShop, should something come out that, &/or the next week's Thursday that I may be, or definitely am interested in, I try, & hold off for another week, or so, to wait, & see if something better comes the next week. If nothing comes by the 2nd week, I will generally d/l something I have been eyeing from the eShop. This game, I'm gonna have to take a 2nd look at. I may still get it.

So, this game itself, as well as limited funds, & I may get this game later, but not now necessarily.

PekoponTAS

#39

PekoponTAS said:

I downloaded this game a while back and disliked it, but tonight I tried it out again, beat all the levels, but still felt like I didn't quite understand what the game was going for. This review helped me understand the game a bit better as a memorization type thing, and soon enough I was chasing top times with the starting rock since it's the one I can control the best. Getting through a well without hitting anything is a truly awesome feeling. It's the one game I wish I could play in 3D since buying my 2DS though. Still totally playable without the 3D, but I can tell just by looking at the game that it would look impressive in 3D.

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