Potential is a word that pops up in my mind playing Spin Star. It is a game combining the mechanics of Bust-A-Move and Tetris into an own match four or more mixture. You get to control the orb spawning in the middle of the spinning cosmos. Your objective is to make sure the play area doesn’t fill up completely as that causes game over. Of course getting a high score in the process is the order of the day.
Controls are really good according to my wife, and choppy according to me. I guess it depends on how smoothly you move your thumb or finger across the slider. The game is played in portrait mode with the slider at the bottom. The slider area is large which I really like as too many games force us to play around with the tiniest buttons. Sliding left and right spins the play area and you have to aim the continuously firing orbs to create the best matches. Sliding up and down lets you change how you view the play area.
You can control where the ball will end up as you can keep spinning the slider until the ball gets stuck in a position. Balls come in a wide variety of colours, and to me some of the blue/purple/green tend to look too alike. I am not colour-blind or anything but would still like to have them less alike.
A neat thing is that you can get the ball to nudge itself between two balls to match with alike balls in an outer ring. When you match four or more balls they disappear but their absence don’t affect the remaining balls. This means that combos are not included as a game mechanic. I find this odd, as setting up combos generally is a core gaming element to match games.
There are three different levels of difficulty ranging from easy to hard, or in my opinion pathetic to easy. I am no wiz kid at playing match games but I find it hard to feel challenged by Spin Star. The pacing is too slow even on the hardest setting, and there is no sense of urgency. Sure there is a siren sounding once there are too many balls crowding the game area. I have yet to get game over against my will at medium difficulty, and once I have had to yield on hard. There are ten different power ups to use such as the instantly used multipliers and bombs. The best power up is a star that you can use to push the balls outward giving you plenty of time to regroup if you have been living on the edge of game over.
I have to go back to the first sentence I wrote in this review considering the potential of Spin Star. It looks great, sound good and controls quite well. Omitting combo mechanic is strange to me but what really brings the game down is the slow pace, and lack of challenge. It becomes boring all too soon unlike a game such as Tetris. With a tweak here and a rethink there I think developer Six By Nine can turn this into something really good. As it stands now I can’t really recommend it unless you want a game to just relax with.
Presentation and graphics
Colourful balls with some nice popping effects once they disappear. Space whirls and other such background set the scene well. A colour-blind mode or more diversity between balls would be good as some colours are hard to distinguish.
It looks good and is really cool to change the perspective as it helps setting up the next ball placement.
Good techno music and sound effects suitable to the game. You can play your own music.
Slow pacing, no combo mechanic and lack of challenge really bring the game play down. The controls work well if you keep your finger on the slider, and don’t make too large movements.
Only local high scores available with nothing to unlock or achieve. Getting high score isn’t fun either as you can’t set up large combos.
Spin Star has a lot of potential but in the current version 1.0 it is not a game I can recommend. It lacks both challenge and fun.