Spotto! (a.k.a. Bird & Bombs)
DSiWare | Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now | 200 Nintendo Points
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6th June 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
So the President's daughter Chikkie Wowwow (and yes, that name is funny) gets swooped away by an evil ghost and Mr. Authority enlists the help of his best "Bombirdier" to get her back. And you're the bird for the job! Spotto's journey takes him to a haunted mansion full of ghosts who stand in your way of saving Chikkie. Don't let his tiny exterior fool you: this bird is a master with bombs.
In each stage, the idea is to eliminate all of the ghosts using the bombs you have in your inventory. The mysterious apparitions have big mouths open that you got to toss a bomb into, causing them to explode upon impact. To do this, simply use your stylus to turn the blue dial on the screen by making a clockwise or counter-clockwise circular rotation. The angle of trajectory will be displayed by a dotted line that serves as a rough guide as to the path the bomb will follow. If you plan carefully before each turn, you'll be able to clear each level with little trouble.
You'll start off with 5 bombs and each time you get rid of one of the creatures, you'll get another bomb back. In addition, the words "Spotto!" will appear on-screen to encourage the player for their successful hit. When a ghost is defeated, it'll shatter into multiple pieces, as if a plastic vase exploded. Failing to score a hit on a turn will cause Spotto to sigh and if a bomb lands on top of or near him, he'll get charred and carry that burnt look for the rest of the stage. It won't affect gameplay of course, but it's still kind of funny to see that little touch. If you manage to clear the level, Spotto will flutter around in the air joyfully. And, if you manage to do so without ever wasting a bomb (i.e., every throw resulted in a hit), you'll earn a Perfect rating. Unfortunately, these don't count towards anything beyond self-satisfaction.
Although the game may become a bit repetitive over time, there's definitely some variety here that helps make the game more interesting. First of all, new stage elements are gradually introduced to the player and these must be considered during the planning stage if you hope to clear some of the more trickier solutions. For instance, you'll be exposed to moving platforms, floating bookcases, and more. You'll need to bounce bombs off pieces of furniture and, in some cases, use good timing to reach some of the ghosts.
Secondly, one of the more interesting aspects to the game is the Super Bomb feature. On occasion, this special power-up will be hidden inside one of the ghosts in the level and it will be released once the host is defeated. You can hold up to 3 of these at one time, and they can always be carried over to the next level. Used wisely, you can clear an entire stage full of ghosts with just one souped-up bomb. Each time a ghost is defeated by this power-up (or the effects of it), a series of bombs fire away from the explostion in random directions. It's probably the best part about the game and it leads to some fun gameplay, especially since you never know when this power-up will show its face.
Every 10 stages you'll face off against a giant ghost who acts almost like a "boss", albeit, the level of challenge here isn't that high. The big guy opens and closes his mouth periodically, but because he only takes 3 hits to defeat, it's pretty easy to win against him. I would've enjoyed it more if there were other ghosts during these "boss segments" that had different attributes.
Under the main Story Mode option, you can either start from Stage 1 or, once you've cleared at least one stage, you'll open up a Stage Select feature. There's also a fun Challenge Mode where you test to see how many stages you can clear before you run out of bombs. Once you beat the game the first time around, you'll unlock Story Mode Pro. This mode features golden bombs that have a higher reach than the normal bombs, and the dotted line is cut in half, making it even harder for you to eyeball invisible paths and the like. What I felt was missing from this title was the ability to go back to each stage and aim for something more. It would've been great to strive for a Perfect rating on all stages and I was rather surprised this feature wasn't incorporated into the release. But for a $2 game, it still features enough content to be worth the asking price.
Everything about the game is quite cute, even silly. From the rhyming dialogue during intro and end cutscenes, to the music and the slightly-childish graphics. And how could one forget the cute voice acting Spotto portrays whenever you click the "Yes sir!" option from the Continue Menu. Although the game's level of challenge may be fairly minimal, there's also no pressure in the form of time limits. Meaning, then, that you can play a few stages each day, much in the same way you'd do so in games like Sudoku Student. It's not a game you should play in one sitting because those initial 50 stages can go by kind of quickly. But if you have the mindset to play Spotto in short bursts, you should enjoy the game more than you otherwise would from speeding through it.
Spotto! is quite fun overall, and I'm pleased NoA localized it from the Japanese catalogue. Although there could've been a greater focus towards replay value, and more variety would've been beneficial in some areas, it's hard to complain when the game is listed at a very low-risk price. Furthermore, Spotto! is a great purchase and I recommend it for young and old gamers alike.
25/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 9/10 - Decent sense of variety, simple execution but it works well, hard to find fault with, Super Bomb is a great feature
Presentation 8/10 - Cute visuals and audio, repetitive yet slightly-catchy music, mansion theme works and feels familiar
Enjoyment 4/5 - The game is quite fun, can still enjoy it even weeks later, lovable premise, meant to be played in short bursts
Extra Content 4/5 - 50 stages in Story Mode, Story Mode Pro, fun Challenge Mode, could've easily had an option to go for Perfect scores, so worth $2
Equivalent to a score of 83% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)