The fiendish Dr. De Playne has taken Johnny’s treasure map and his girlfriend Mary. A globe-trotting adventure follows as you attempt to get both back, either by yourself or with the help of a friend who is given control of the identically handling Tom.
Despite featuring different characters and a more modern setting, Spin Master (as it's named on the Switch eShop and HOME page, though it's commonly known as Spinmaster) plays similarly to developer Data East’s earlier prehistoric adventure Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja, requiring you to run and (occasionally) jump through levels, fighting off a variety of bad guys. It features the same bright cartoony art style as well, with good character designs and plenty of detail in the stages. There are fun touches such as the bulging eyeball look of defeated foes or the way ventilation ducts wobble as enemies move through them; a visual clue to make you get out of the way.
The game begins at Madrid Airport (curiously renamed America Airport in the Japanese version) and your adventure will see you travel to places including Egypt, China and Greece. The range of locations leads to you running through (amongst other places) the desert, a jungle and an underground cavern. There’s some variety in level design too. Some simply see you run through whilst others require hopping across gaps to avoid the dangers below. Other times you’ll be moving vertically through a stage rather than left to right, with a late level in the game seeing you take a stone elevator ride, avoiding attacks and hazards en route to a showdown. Data East also threw in a couple of levels to give our heroes’ feet a rest, requiring them to take a trip down a river and ride a speedy minecart.
Dr. De Playne’s gang is mainly made up of hooded goons. Some are armed with throwing knives and bombs and on the river stage they paddle up to you before trying to brain you with their oar. There are other foes (with their own methods of attack) including mummies, tribe members, birds and ill-tempered fish. Levels have hazards, too, including quicksand, crumbling platforms, spikes and flames. Every few levels there is a fun boss battle and you’ll be faced with serpents, a dragon and a Boglin-like creature who can morph into a weight to try and crush you.
Accompanying the on screen action is some adventurous music that, whilst not particularly memorable, works well and adds to the experience. Sound effects include a number of effective noises such as bangs, grunts and splashes and there’s some speech thrown in too.
Johnny and Tom begin the game armed with surprisingly deadly yo-yos, but will soon find other weapons such as shuriken, fire and boxing gloves which provide different ways to fight off your attackers. Holding the attack button down will charge up a wider ranging move and you have a limited number of special attacks that are useful for clearing screens of bad guys should you suddenly find yourself surrounded. Though requiring more than one hit, it’s also possible to jump on the heads of enemies Mario-style, and it’s very satisfying to bounce off a series of bonces to rack up those points.
With varied levels and attackers to deal with and a few offensive options of your own available, the game remains fun throughout. It’s unfortunate then that it is over so soon. There are five stages in the game, each having a number of “scenes” (only 1 for the first stage, 2-3 for the others). In total there are twelve levels in the game and it can be cleared in about half an hour. The game is not overly difficult but it can be tricky when you have bad guys and creatures attacking from all directions; quick reflexes are required to see you through but the challenge always seems fair. Of course that challenge is removed when you can add another credit at the tap of the button, re-spawning exactly where you fell. If you rush through the game, making liberal use of continues, you can actually beat it in under fifteen minutes. Perhaps a speedrun mode could be another addition to these ACA releases?
Players seeking a challenge can always limit themselves with how many continues they use, and in the options menu you can also up the difficulty from the default 4 to 8. There is also the standard ACA one-credit Hi Score mode. That particular challenge is not available to play with a friend (standard play supports two players) but you can see how your score compares with players from around the globe, and the five minute Caravan mode offers another scoreboard for you to try and move up.
Great visual design, varied levels and a number of different enemies make Spin Master an enjoyable game to play through. It can be cleared very quickly, but limiting your credits is a good way to ensure the challenge remains. Those uninterested in highscore chasing will find less replayablity in the game, but it’s a fun way to spend half an hour whenever you do boot it up; it offers quick arcade thrills when playing with a friend, whether on a big screen or undocked with a Joy-Con each.