This week another indie arcade game hit Steam in the form of ‘Spectraball’ by developers from Flashcube Studios. Can Flashcube’s first creation stand out from the crowd?
Back to the roots
The basic idea of Spectraball is nothing revolutionary – in fact quite the opposite. It takes players back to the early days of gaming where games tried to keep the player hooked with their concept and not with bombastic, super-realistic looking graphics. You, the player, have to use all of your aptitude to guide a ball through each of the fifteen levels to reach the final objective within it. Everyone who’s played ‘Marble Madness’ or ‘Trouble Bubble’ in the ‘good old days of gaming’ will be familiar to this concept.
Simple but challenging
The levels look brilliant
On your journey through the levels you will come across several traps, moving platforms, pipes, steps and other things you will have to pass to reach the final objective. As if that were not enough to manage, there is also a time limit for each level, determined by the difficulty you have chosen before starting. The levels are themed around five environments (Tropical, Snow, Air, Space and Inferno), which are always very colourful. Their construction is pretty simple; you will never roll around without a clue about where to find the final objective. Yet the levels are still very challenging and it will be a common occurrence that you fall off the map and get put back to one of the recent reached checkpoints.
Can you control it?
Although the controls are kept simple and intuitive, the tutorial is definitely worth a look to learn about the special abilities of the ball and its handling. Usually the game is controlled with your keyboard and mouse, but a gamepad can also be used – even the X-Box 360 Controller is supported. With your controller you are able to affect the direction and speed of the ball. In addition to this you can also jump with your ball and use a ‘Power Brake’, which is very helpful when the high speed of your is luring you towards a fall.
Pleasing to the ear?
The audio effects are simple but effective and definitely the kind you could expect from a game about rolling a ball. The soundtrack features really catchy tunes and fits excellently to the gameplay. Of course, it can always be turned off in the options if you do not have a taste for it.
Down at the Steamworks
There’s a nice variety of different themes to play through
Because ‘Spectraball’ utilizes ‘Steamworks’, the game has its own achievements and stat tracking. Both raise your motivation to play because you will want to get faster through the levels to get a better rank on the leaderboard of each level, which is connected to all players throughout Steam. You will find yourself thinking ‘How did that guy higher up than me on the board manage to finish that level so fast?!’. And clearly this is going to make you play the levels again, looking out for shortcuts, bypasses and other ways to get faster through the level to improve your time. The more you play ‘Spectraball’ the more you will like it because your skill will improve over time and you will, of course, earn more achievements.