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Spring Up!

Published by Frozax Games
Price $19.99
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

For perhaps the first time ever in PC gaming, the phrases “floral theme” and “physics based gameplay” come together to describe Frozax Games’ Spring Up! From the screenshots, you might be inclined to write this one off as just another breakout clone, but Spring Up! places itself in a genre of its own. In terms of originality, I score this game quite highly, and definitely recommend the demo download to all casual gamers looking for something different.

A garden gnome welcomes you to the game. A typical level during play.

The playfield contains a number of elements which the player must remove from play to proceed to the next level. Coloured balls are shot from a centrally positioned launching point down into the field below and will unfix all like-coloured elements on contact. Newtonian laws then take over as all like-coloured bits and pieces are dislodged on contact, falling to the bottom through unpredictable paths. The flotsam then needs to be collected by the player using the paddle at the bottom of the screen. Lots of bits collected in sequence yields a chain bonus for your score. Furthermore, pickups may also be released at random when blocks or balls are dislodged; most of these are beneficial and must be caught with the paddle as well. At the end of the level, the awarded points are used to decorate the player’s garden. It starts in a barren state, but will ultimately contain flower beds, decorative trees, fountains and paths.

There’s no way to lose a level. You can keep on shooting those balls down until the cows come home with no penalty. A score multiplier that can increase up to 5x rewards players that can continuously hit targets accurately, and since the player is aided by an aiming guide at all times, the multiplier will sit at 5x for most of the level in my games. If the colour of the next ball does not suit you, you can swap it with the next in the sequence. No time limits, no enemies, no pressure. Controls are all via the mouse and the game is simple to learn. This is casual gaming at its most casual.

My garden is coming along nicely... There are also themed levels like this.

It’s quite a relaxing game to play, and especially at the start of a new level with lots of elements on screen, the action is quite fun to watch. However, later on in the level I start to feel like I’m just grinding away to clear it, and this is a drawback that has plagued many breakout styled games in the past. A workaround that many have utilised is to release a powerup later in the level that, when voluntarily caught, would warp the player to the end of the stage, but in Spring Up! you’ll need to dislodge every last piece. I don’t think that there’s enough variety in the powerups that drop. One that changed all certain coloured pieces to another might have been fun, or even something like being able to shoot projectiles from the bottom of the screen might have spiced up the gameplay a bit. As it stands, they are a bit of a non event.

The game runs in a fixed resolution that I suspect is 800x600, and although the graphics are functional and animations are smooth, it looks a bit ugly on my display at 1400x900, and at higher resolutions (especially widescreen aspects) it’s going to look even worse. Thankfully, there is an option to be able to run the game windowed which somewhat compensates for the low resolution.

The background music is very relaxing and fits with the theme of the game nicely, but it looped a few times before cutting out completely for me on more than one occasion. The sound effects are well done, but there seem to be a couple of obvious omissions, like when powerups are caught.

Spring Up! is a game that seems to lack just a bit of spit and polish that could see it become quite popular. It’s a clever idea that has been incorporated into a game nicely, yet the game itself still feels a bit unfinished to me. It definitely needs a bit more content (and by that I don’t mean just more levels - I’ve played through close to 50) and a dash more attention to detail; there’s certainly room for improvement. Even in its present form it’s worth a look, but $20 might be a bit pricy for some.

Graphics 68%
Sound 83%
Playability 75%
Longevity 77%
Overall Score 73%
Bronze Star

Published on 01 Aug 2008
Reviewed by Steve Blanch

Keywords: spring up! review, frozax games reviews, frozax games games, spring up! scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.