At first, The Splatters feels as if it’s landed on the wrong platform. This is, after all, a dynamic physics puzzler that has learned clear lessons from iOS hits such as Angry Birds and Cut The Rope. With short levels waiting to be three-starred, simple, high-colour aesthetics and a familiar, elasticated control scheme that’s perfectly designed for a finger and a touchscreen, it cuts a strange figure among the mini-epics crowding XBLA.
Play it, though, and your urge to classify the experience is replaced by a desire for pure mastery. Each of The Splatters’ challenges tasks you with the same goal: trigger all of the bombs – strung in gloopy strands across the screen – by coating them with paint that bursts from your squishy avatars’ bodies as you fling them about. The paint must match the colour of the bombs it hits in order to trigger them, and the game has no qualms about placing your targets in hard to reach spots around the complex 2D arenas. When you pull back and release your Splatter to fire it, the real work has only just begun.
That real work, in fact, lies in the game’s glorious stunt system, as you reposition characters in mid air, shoot them like missiles – and even use a limitless time-rewind to reverse their momentum. A game that rewards precision showboating over happy accidents, The Splatters ultimately feels as much like the heir to Trials HD as to Rovio’s feathery world-beater. Maybe it belongs on XBLA after all.