When you hear a name like Spitlings what is the first thing that comes to your mind? It turns out that Spitlings are basically a bunch of square shaped creatures that not surprisingly spit/shoot out bubbles. In Spitlings you and up to three of your friends get to play together using these creatures to try and clean up the goop that has covered their home. Basically the game is an arcade game where you have to use the bubbles that the Spitlings shoot out to pop/destroy bouncing balls of goop that kill you if they touch you. Arcade games are not my favorite genre of video games, but I generally like the genre due to its simplicity. When you add in the fact that the game encourages playing cooperatively with other players and I was intrigued. Released earlier this year as a Google Stadia exclusive, Spitlings has finally made its way to Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One today. On the surface Spitlings may seem like a simple little arcade game, but under the surface is a deep and satisfying cooperative arcade experience.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Massive Miniteam and HandyGames for the review copy of Spitlings used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
In Spitlings you play as the aforementioned Spitlings. The Spitlings live a peaceful life in their skyscraper. One day the weather brings a giant piece of goop and drops it directly on top of their skyscraper. It quickly begins filling up the lower floors trapping the Spitlings stuck on those floors. The only way to save their friends is to use their ability to spit bubbles to clean up all of the goop from the tower as they make progress towards the ground floor and save their friends. Can the Spitlings get rid of the goop for good and get back to their happy lives?
If I were to describe Spitlings gameplay I would say that it is an arcade game with some platforming mechanics mixed in. On the surface the gameplay is really simple. The game is broken into groups of levels situated on different floors of the Spitlings’ tower. The goal of each level is simple: destroy all of the goop in the level with your bubbles. When you hit most pieces of goop they will break into smaller pieces until they are finally destroyed. To accomplish this you are given two types of attacks. You can either shoot bubbles up or down from your current position. Shooting down also launches you into the air allowing you to hover if you keep shooting. You need to be careful with your shots though as they are limited. When you run out you either need to pick up the bubbles that have fallen to the ground, or you need to use the reload button which takes some time.
This seems simple, but things get a little more complicated. The Spitlings are quite vulnerable as they are immediately killed whenever they touch goop or other dangerous obstacles. When you die you will need to restart the level from the beginning forcing you to clean up all of the goop again. For this reason you likely will want to bring up to three other people along with you to help you clear up all of the goop. When you complete the level you will move onto the next level in the group. When you complete all of the levels in the group you can move onto the next group of levels. As you progress through the game you will have to deal with other obstacles including trampolines and other dangerous obstacles that you can’t destroy.
On the surface Spitlings doesn’t seem like the deepest game. In some ways that is true as after just a couple of levels you should have a good idea of what to expect from the rest of the game. The basic gameplay never really changes as it mostly entails destroying all of the goop while avoiding anything that can destroy you. If this doesn’t sound like your type of game it probably won’t be. Despite the gameplay being quite straightforward I actually really enjoyed it. The game is really easy to play as the mechanics are really simple. Mastering those mechanics on the other hand are a totally different proposition leading to a really satisfying game.
This gameplay could have gotten repetitive pretty quickly as the game doesn’t introduce any new abilities or anything that drastically changes the gameplay. The game overcomes this though because it does a good job designing the levels. The objective of each level is the same and yet things are kept fresh because the designers find new ways of tweaking the mechanics. Every so often the game introduces new obstacles and tools to use in the levels. The game has a couple introductory levels to show how these work and then the game adds them into the tools they use in future levels. I was genuinely surprised by how many different ways the game came up with to use these mechanics to create different levels. I wouldn’t say that Spitlings is the type of game that I would play for hours at a time, but it does a good job keeping you interested through at least the main storyline.
The thing that I think really makes Spitlings is the fact that the entire game is co-op. You could play the game by yourself. Unless the game adjusts the difficulty based on the number of players though I think the game would be quite difficult with just one player. With the limited ammo and the number of things you have to handle I think it would be quite hard to play the game by yourself. I don’t know why you would want to either as the game is quite fun as a cooperative experience. Having two or more players really makes the game as the players can work together in order to get rid of all of the goop. Players can split up the levels to cover different areas or players can cover each other to destroy goop that is closing in on one of their teammates. Teamwork is key in the game since if one person dies everyone restarts from the beginning. Having additional players helps, but you need to work well together or additional players is not going to really help. You don’t need other players to play Spitlings, but I would highly recommend it if you have friends or family to play with as it is a more satisfying experience.
As Spitlings claims to be an unforgiving hardcore arcade game I wanted to address the game’s difficulty. I would say that the game’s difficulty can vary quite a bit. For the most part I would say that the game’s difficulty is pretty fair. You will die a lot in the game. This is not a big deal though as most of the levels only take 10-20 seconds so you don’t lose much progress when you fail. Some of the levels can be pretty easy where you can finish them on your first attempt. Most of the levels will take around five to twenty attempts. Then there are the levels where you can die hundreds of times before you succeed. While these levels were kind of frustrating, the game felt fair for the most part. You will die a lot, but the levels are so short that you don’t feel like are losing a lot when you die.
Spitlings’ length is likely going to depend heavily on how good you are at the game. Theoretically you can finish each level in around 10-20 seconds if you complete it on your first attempt. Each group of levels consists of three levels and each floor has three groups of levels. With a total of twelves floors you could theoretically beat the game within an hour or so if you somehow could beat all of the levels on your first couple of attempts. That is very unlikely though as you will likely die many more times. I would guess that most players will finish the main set of levels within around 5-8 hours. If you are really good at the game I would guess you could probably shave off an hour or two.
There is more to the game than just the main storyline though. The game also includes a party mode. The party mode is mostly the same as the main game, but it gives you various options that you can tweak to change up the gameplay like reducing or increasing gravity among other settings. The party mode was fine and I could see it working well if you just want to play a few quick games with other people. The bigger addition is a second group of levels that can be unlocked. For each group of levels there is a time limit for each individual level. If you complete each level within a certain amount of time you will unlock a second set of levels which are similar and yet more difficult than the main group of levels. I have only played a few sets of these levels. These levels seem harder than their counterparts, but the ones that I have played so far don’t seem too demanding. If you really want a challenge after completing the main storyline these missions provide enough challenge to keep you interested for quite a while.
As for Spitlings’ story and overall atmosphere I would say that it is kind of a mixed bag. For the most part the story is really basic. The story basically just involves you going through the Spitlings’ tower clearing out all of the goop. As arcade games rarely have much for their stories this isn’t a huge problem for the game. As for the game’s overall atmosphere I think it is pretty good. I like the game’s graphical style as it fits the gameplay well. I think the game’s strength in this area though is just the fact that there are so many options in the game. The game has over 100 Spitlings that you can play as. These vary quite a bit where you likely will find at least one that you will really like to use. You unlock them regularly as you get one after completing each group of levels. On top of this the game features over 70 different themes which recolor all of the elements of a level. Between these two things the game gives you a lot of control over the atmosphere.
This might be simplifying things a little too much, but I think most people will probably be able to figure out whether they will like Spitlings just by looking at a few screenshots or by watching one of the trailers. I say this because the gameplay is pretty self explanatory. You and your teammates need to use your bubbles to try to destroy all of the goop before it hits and kills you. This might seem simple which makes the game easy to pick up and play. The game is quite a bit deeper than its first appearances make it seem though. The game does a good job introducing new elements and crafting them into levels that keep things interesting. The game is quite challenging where you will likely die quite a bit. Outside of a few especially difficult levels though the game feels fair as levels are short and you eventually adjust to what you need to do to succeed. The thing that really makes the game work though is the fact that the entire game is co-op. You can play Spitlings by yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend it because it is a much better co-op game as teamwork really makes the game shine. For an arcade game Spitlings has a surprising number of levels where you likely will get your money’s worth.
Basically for my recommendation I would suggest you watch the trailer or a short introduction to how the game is played. If the gameplay doesn’t seem all that interesting to you it probably won’t be for you. Those who like arcade game (especially those with an emphasis on co-op) and think the game sounds fun should get quite a bit of enjoyment out of Spitlings.