Overall Score 73%
For perhaps the first time ever in PC gaming, the phrases ďfloral themeĒ and ďphysics based gameplayĒ come together to describe Frozax Gamesí 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.
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 playerís garden. It starts in a barren state, but will ultimately contain flower beds, decorative trees, fountains and paths.
Thereís 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.
Itís 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 Iím 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! youíll need to dislodge every last piece. I donít think that thereís 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) itís 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. Itís 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 donít mean just more levels - Iíve played through close to 50) and a dash more attention to detail; thereís certainly room for improvement. Even in its present form itís worth a look, but $20 might be a bit pricy for some.
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