Googly-Eyed Splitters Left Me Cross-eyed

Review of Googly-Eyed Splitters on XBLIG: Pass
A game that cannot decide what it wants to be, it ends up suffering from split personality.

When I first picked up Googly-Eyed Splitters it felt like a puzzle game.  Later levels in the game felt like a platformer.  This left me confused as to who the audience was for this game.  Puzzle fans will get frustrated with the platforming levels, and fans of platformers will find the physics based game controls too loose.  The fact the developer put the game in the Action and Adventure genre just adds more confusion in understanding the intent.

Googly-Eyed Splitters does offer an interesting hook to platforming.  The player is a fuzzy ball with eyes that can split into two smaller fuzzy balls with eyes.  When split, the left thumbstick and trigger controls one ball and the right thumbstick and trigger controls the other.  Only in a few places is moving both balls at once required and this is good.  The split controls are very difficult to grasp.

The game makes use of the Farseer Physics Engine and has a very literal and loose feel to player control.  I found controlling the ball and sticking a jump to be very touchy.  Most of my frustrations in the game came not from solving a level but just trying to make a simple jump.  A few levels require moving a large boulder with the fuzzy ball and the literal physics system made this a far more difficulty task than it should have been.

I hit a few glitches as I played though the 40 levels in the game.  The world numbering is off by one after the second level, so when the screen says level “2-3” its really “3-3”.  There were also places where a 3D geometry error killed one of my fuzzy balls just for being too close to a moving block.  The moving block didn’t need to be moving to cause the problem, it could have moved minutes ago and be at full rest.  These cases weren’t many, but caused a moment of profanity when they occurred.

There is only one jump strength in the game.  Many times I need only to make a small hop, but spent minutes trying to control a long jump because that was the only option.  I felt like I should have been able to tap the trigger for a short jump, or since the game uses a trigger instead of a button, at least be able to control jump strength by how far the trigger was pressed.

The music is cute, but short and repetitive.  I had to mute the TV to finish playing the game.  The graphics seem to also suffer from multiple personality disorder with the 2D artwork going for a Sesame Street vibe while the 3D levels strike a Quake 3 chord.  The fuzzy balls seem to sit somewhere in the middle and the “level complete” animation uses a smoke effect that looks like a fuzzy ball died in a blender.

Googly-Eyed Splitters is a Pass.  Loose controls combined with strict physics is a lethal combination to fun.  Many of the 40 levels posed no challenge or puzzle, and the few levels I found difficult was due to game controls and not level design.  I did however like seeing the exploration of a new concept in platformers, even if this experiment wasn’t a success.

A copy of Googly-Eyed Splitters was provided to GameMarx for this review by the developer.

Leave a comment