Let’s Make a Splash(y)
Do games need to have complex control schemes to provide an entertaining gameplay experience? Definitely not. For every Monster Hunter game that requires you to remember increasingly difficult control schemes, there is an incredibly simplistic game like Galaga that pulls you in with easy to pick up, tightly responsive gameplay. Splashy Cube for Nintendo Switch is a game that certainly falls into the latter category.
Everything about Splashy Cube screams mobile gameplay with its touchscreen control scheme, bite-sized levels, and the barebones UI. The game originally came out on iOS as Splashy Cube: Color Run in 2018. The responsiveness, fast-paced gameplay, and “just one more try” persistence the game cultivates is perfect for the hybrid Switch console.
Just Move Forward
Splashy Cube is also a game with a very simple premise. You play as a cube whose goal is to scoot to the end of procedurally generated labyrinths while collecting same-colored blobs and avoiding obstacles. Buzzsaws, protruding spikes, dead-ends, and pits are all out to get the cube. The challenge navigating these snags is that the stage is constantly plummeting into the abyss and your cube can only move in forward diagonals. This is accomplished by pressing the L/ZL and R/ZR buttons.
I did not have high expectations of the game upon booting it up for the first time, but I was later proven wrong. The main navigation menu offers a single-player gameplay mode, a modest customization suite to change the look of your cube from around one dozen options that you unlock through gameplay, a national leaderboard, and the ever-present credits. The developer missed a real opportunity by not adding a multiplayer mode to the Switch port of the game. However, if Splashy Cube had included one, it would easily rank in my top multiplayer games on Switch.
Splashy Cube dropped me into the first level without any hand-holding. I was told by the game to press A to start and given the two-button control scheme. But outside of that, I could choose my own adventure, so to speak. Is this cube an Arthurian hero trying to save the prince from a hidden dungeon? Maybe it is a race-cube driver trying to set the record for fastest hotlap. It can be anything that you want.
What Makes a Good Game?
The key to a good game is having the ability to make the player say “one more try” or “one more level.” Splashy Cube overwhelmingly succeeds in this category. I originally set aside 15 minutes to get some first impressions of the game. However, when I looked at my watch, 30 minutes had zipped by. If you have chores to do or scheduled commitments to keep, beware the vacuum of time this diversion creates. The additional promise of climbing up the leaderboard was my motivation to keep scooting through the levels. After an hour of gameplay, I owned that coveted top score.
Levels are incredibly compact, ranging anywhere from 10 seconds to a couple minutes at the end. There are no hit points or checkpoints; if I make a mistake, I drop back to the beginning of the level and my high score resets. With zero loading time, if you thought you would have a chance to think about whether or not to take a break, you do not. Just hit A and continue giving those blobs Hell.
Take in the Sights and Sounds
Visually, the game would best be described as taking a minimalist futuristic approach because the colors are vibrant, fun, and clean. Every couple levels your cube and the environments change color, giving you the sense of leveling up and pushing you to keep exploring further. One complaint I could make about the visuals is that with gameplay so dependent on hues there is no option to toggle a colorblind-friendly mode which is a serious disadvantage to a portion of the gaming community.
“Is this cube an Arthurian hero trying to save the prince from a hidden dungeon? Maybe it is a race-cube driver trying to set the record for fastest hotlap.”
The sounds in Splashy Cube match the overall aesthetic perfectly. A cheerful, chiptune-like soundtrack pushed me to keep moving. The sound effects are cartoonish in a good way with satisfying plops when I crush blobs and the iconic cartoon falling out of the sky sound when I make the wrong move into a hole.
Above all, at a $4.99 price point, Splashy Cube sets itself up as a great game. Whether playing in short bursts while riding on public transit, looking to kill a few minutes, or even as a new game for chasing those high scores, you’re covered. If you want to try the game out before purchasing and you have an iOS device, download Splashy Cube: Color Run.