A Spinch Of Goodness
HIGH The first half of the game.
LOW Horrible, horrible water levels.
WTF The “Catch the Cousin” minigames
I’m always a little hesitant when a game is advertised as a tough, retro platformer. There are more than enough of them out there, and for every one that’s well made, there are dozens that completely miss the mark.
After seeing the preview for Spinch, I was cautiously optimistic. This retro-themed 2D platformer has a colorful, trippy art style and I was intrigued by what I might find. Initial impressions were positive, but ultimately those didn’t last.
The premise revolves around a creature called a “Spinch” that is out to save its offspring from being eaten by different colors. Yes, the colors of the rainbow are attacking these peaceful creatures and players will need to traverse a variety of levels filled with adversaries, bottomless pits, and plenty of damage-inducing rainbow floors.
Standard platforming maneuvers are present here – running, jumping, and wall-jumps will move the Spinch from start to finish. A dash move is also utilized, either along the ground or in mid-air, to help the creature quickly pass large obstacles. Precision is key to beating most levels, and thankfully controls aren’t a hindrance.
Throughout each stage, players can find three offspring. Once collected, these baby Spinches are then used as ammo for the end-of-world bosses. These bosses are a highlight of Spinch, and using the younger creatures as bullets in huge contraptions to attack mammoth, color-charged beasts is a blast.
The early stages, including the first boss fights, are tough, but beatable. Then I arrived in World 4 and Spinch decided that water levels would be a nice change of pace.
Water levels are not a nice change of pace.
At this point, players enter tanks and tubes filled with water and teeming with aquatic enemies and plenty of spiked walls and floors. By itself, the addition of water isn’t a huge deal – sure, it’s not the most enjoyable, but it’s fine enough. Then players are forced into sections with flowing currents that completely upend the controls.
When in these sections, Spinch goes from being a precise platformer to a miserable experience that relies mainly on luck since players are unable to swim against the current and the dash move becomes horribly imprecise. Add in the spiked walls with sparse checkpoints, and a difficult (but enjoyable) experience becomes just plain difficult. After a dozen failed attempts, I gave up.
These water sections are a shame because I was enjoying my time with Spinch. It has great art direction, well-crafted early stages, and exciting boss battles. Sadly, all of this great work is upended by the introduction of these terrible water levels, and their inclusion makes Spinch just another retro platformer that misses the mark.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Queen Bee Games and published by Akupara Games. It is currently available on Switch and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains Mild Fantasy Violence. Content-wise this game is safe for gamers of all ages. Characters go splat when defeated without any bloodshed.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All story is told through text. Text size cannot be changed and the text itself is a rainbow of colors. There are a couple levels where players need to hide from a bomb that is dropped by an onscreen foe. Music intensifies when the bomb is about to drop, but no noticeable visual cue is given until the bomb is released. Due to these stages, the game is not fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. Players move with either the left joystick or the D-pad. Jump is completed with either the A or the B button and the dash move can be completed with the X, Y, ZR, or ZL buttons.
When he does find time to play, Brian’s preferred games of choice are platformers, beat-‘em-ups, or a good adventure game.He still enjoys the retro gaming scene, could talk about the Nintendo 64 more than he might like to admit, and misses playing in actual arcades. Brian also gets to pass on his love of gaming, as his oldest son is just now starting to join the fun.
As for that GameBoy - it’s sitting in Brian’s nightstand, waiting patiently for four AA batteries.