Sunday, May 13

Review: InkSplosion [Nintendo Switch eShop]


If there’s one thing that the Switch has an abundance of, it is quality twin-stick shooters. This is great news for a person like me who has loved twin-stick arcade shooting since the days of Robotron: 2084 back in the arcades. For someone trying to make splash in the crowded Switch eShop it’s a bit more of a challenge though. Enter InkSplosion, a very bare bones take on twin-stick shooting that’s also very colorful and has a budget-friendly price. How does it stack up?


Starting with the basics the game has 3 modes: Classic, Arena, and Hard, though being truthful there’s not all that much different about them aside from the tweaking of some rules. In all of them you’ll face successive waves of 4 enemies a piece and you’ll be assigned one of the game’s weapons at random. In Classic and Hard modes there’ll be a dotted line, that can be either stationary or moving, you’ll want to avoid crossing to avoid a damage penalty. You have a life gauge at the top that will be decreased as you get hit or use the game’s slowdown function. Unless you’re perhaps feeling overwhelmed I never found slowdown very useful since, overall, the pacing of the game is slower than the typical twin-stick shooter anyway.


Probably the best quality of the game on the Switch is that in handheld mode everything is very clear since all of the characters and even the bullets on the screen are quite large and chunky. While this can be a bit much in docked mode, in handheld its very easy on the eyes as you won’t struggle to make out details. With its very colorful nature (thus the name) I suppose some may find it visually appealing as well. Overall it may be a great starter twin-stick shooter for these reasons.


Where the problems begin to arise, especially if you’re more accustomed to more challenging shooters, is that everything in the game is absolutely bare bones on every level. Without any pick-ups and only 4 enemies ever on-screen at once there’s limited strategy or tension aside from just trying not to be hit. This can be tricky though since a side effect of everything being large and chunky is that the slow rate of movement you have can make avoiding fire a slow motion exercise in frustration and you can see something coming, try to move out of its way, but the size of everything and the slow rate of overall movement mean you’ll be hit anyway. While perhaps at this price point the lack of online leaderboards is forgivable but the game’s scoring even lacks any real nuance as there are no multipliers or bonuses to keep up, just shooting at waves of 4 enemies and trying to stay alive.


Scoring InkSplosion is a challenge in some ways because I don’t think it is a game designed to satisfy hard core twin-stick shooting fans. Instead, I think of it more as a starting point to getting a feel for the genre since at least that way it makes a bit of sense. The fact that it plays very well in handheld mode is probably its greatest strength so if you’re itching for something easy to take on the run to pick up and play perhaps it’s a good option. However, if you’re even moderately skilled you’ll also likely burn through everything it has to offer in less than an hour, unlocking the 2 added modes, and without leaderboards or even skill-based scoring multipliers it gets to be tedious pretty quickly.

Score: 5.5

Pros:
  • In general things are big and chunky, making them pretty ideal for play in handheld mode
  • People who are normally intimidated by the more hard core twin-stick shooter games already on the system may find this much more approachable
  • A budget price

Cons:
  • An absolutely bare bones experience on pretty well all levels, overall it’s likely the weakest game of its kind on the Switch
  • The chunky graphics and slow pace can also make dodging painful
  • Even moderately-skilled shooting fans will probably exhaust their interest in the game within the first hour or two