Spectrum Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: 3D Avenue
Release Date: Out Now
Price as of Article: $9.99 USD, £7.99 GBP
Game code provided by Digerati for review
There are two types of games for me, those where I can sit back and relax, and those where I lean forward on my couch to concentrate on the action. Call it my two ”play modes” if you will, passive and active. Anyway, Spectrum is very much the former, a relaxing zen-like puzzle platformer, where you navigate this three-eyed black blob through a variety of beautiful colourful mazes, trying to get to the black vortex at the end; in the least amount of time, without taking damage, and collecting all of the stage’s light orbs.
If you manage all three, you get a perfect score, which grants you access to the next stage. However, much like games such as Cut the Rope and Chameleon Run, you don’t have to perfect every single stage in order to proceed… at least not until later, where the harder stages will require more points to unlock. You do however have to have beaten every stage before you can proceed to the next world.
You control your blob with the control stick and face buttons. Y and B making you jump infinitely, like swimming in air (think Mario), while X and A makes you descend. The tutorial tells you that you can jump higher by holding the jump button, but I found the difference minimal, and instead resorted to button mashing which I found clunky but more efficient. Don’t get me wrong, the game controls fine, at no point do you feel a death was unfair (…okay most of the time), but ascending and descending does feel heavy.
Speaking of controls, I should mention that white is safe to stand on, while colours hurt you. Dull colours only chip away at your health, while bright colours kill you instantly.
There are 4 worlds, each with 10 stages of escalating difficulty to conquer. 20 per world if you count the harder ”Dark World” stages, that you have immediate access to with a push of the X button after conquering the equivalent Light World stage. Wait… Light World and Dark World? Someone has played A Link to the Past.
You only get a perfect if you go unscathed through a level, but you do have 3 lives, with one being restored every time you grab a light orb. You can however hit the start button at any time, which allows you to either restart the stage immediately, go back to the stage select, or go all the way back to the home menu.
Some later stages do get longer than average, with some throwing everything at you including the kitchen sink, not being quiet about the fact that it wants to kill you. Some of these stages could really have used a half way checkpoint in my opinion. Then again that would probably defeat the whole purpose.
Exclusive to the Switch version, the game features a 2-player mode, where two players (duh) race each other to the finish line, split-screen style, in a random line-up of stages from the main game. You choose whether you want to race each other in stages from the Light or Dark World, and then you are pitted up against each other in a ”best out of three” match, where running out of time grants both players half a point – YAY!!
It should also be mentioned, that since you share the same stage, light orbs (that by the way are not necessary for completion in this mode but are only there for healing) are also shared between you, meaning they can only be collected by one player. So if you get hit alot, you better hope your opponent left some for you ahead.
I thought that this would be one of those games where the music went in sync with the gameplay – ala Thumper and Geometry Wars – but that is not the case. The music is there to make you relax and keep you company, but how you maneuvre around is entirely up to you.
What did disappoint me however, was that it sounds like the same 4-5 tracks just repeat over and over again, and it never stops. No, I’m serious. The music keeps playing uninterrupted, whether you restart a stage, whether you are at the stage select, or even at the main menu. The same track. I am rather disappointed that, for a game that has so many stages to offer, it has so little variation in music. I mean, the worlds don’t even have their own distinct music, or the different menus for that matter? Come on!
Spectrum is the kind of game that perfectionists like me will replay over and over again, trying to get a perfect score on each stage before moving. Us perfectionists can’t stand it when an incomplete levels sticks out among a slew of completed ones. The repetitive soundtrack clearly wasn’t composed for that. It gets repetitive fast, and when you catch yourself thinking ”wait, I have heard this tune before”, it distracts from the gameplay, and puts into perspective how long you have actually spent on the level.
Long story short, when you have grown tired of the soundtrack, and you will if you are like me and are replaying the stages over and over to perfection, I then recommend going on youtube and finding one of those 3 hour long remix videos.
The game keeps a simple style, your character, like mentioned before, is a black blob who forms a long tail when in motion, whom you then navigate through mazes over the span of 4 worlds, each with their own colour scheme which sets them apart. Each stage is unique in design, and each throwing new kinds of obstacles at you.
All in all, Spectrum is very pleasing to the eye, with some stages being downright beautiful, and your black character stands out nicely against the coloured backgrounds. There was one stage in particular though, where the obstacles came from the background and were a little hard to dodge in time as they blended in with the background. But other than that, I love how the game looks and plays with the colours!
Even with all that the game offers, I personally still think that for a game of this nature, 4 stages are not nearly enough, especially not for the asking price. There are similar smartphone games that offer way more for way less. However, I did enjoy what was here, and thoughroughly enjoyed trying to perfect every stage to justify my own existence… okay some stages made me want to tear my hair out, but these were few and far between.
The soundtrack though, as I touched on before, was a major let down. I liked it, until I realized its limited and repetitive nature. 4 worlds with 80 levels in total is a lot to offer, but the game is still beaten rather quickly if you have the skill and patience, so I definitely hope more will be added later. A game like this should have at least 6-8 in my opinion. Until then, I would say wait for a sale, and then I would recommend it if you just need a quick zen puzzle platformer fix to pass an afternoon. Heck, the Dark World stages might keep you occupied for a whole weekend.
Phew, I hope to God they never make me review a bullet hell game.
A ton of unique stages to beat and perfect
Controls feel heavy
Price is too high for what is offered