13th Jul2018

Digital Shorts: ‘Spiritsphere DX’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Spiritsphere DX, a retro-themed sports game now available on the Nintendo Switch.

spiritsphere-dx-screen

I REALLY didn’t know what to expect when installing Spiritsphere DX. Every screen shot of it seemed to be different, was it a Zelda-style game? Pokémon clone? One on one fighter? Well, it turns out that it’s not really any of these, instead being a pretty charming retro-styled sports game in the vein of the classic Windjammers.

Featuring several distinctive characters with different strengths and designs, Spiritsphere DX plays out like a sort of fantastical tennis, complete with magic potions. As mentioned above, the graphics are pixelated and colourful with smooth animation and visuals very reminiscent of Nintendo RPGs in the early 90s, which work well with the game play. Another aspect of the game that I was struck by was how strong the music is, it keeps the energy levels up during the matches and kicks up a gear whenever there’s a match point in play, adding to the tension.

Although the current lack of online play may put some players off (there’s always a chance that it could be included in future months as was the case with urban Trials Playground), there are a bevy of single player and multiplayer modes, of which the local play supports up to four players (I especially liked how you can, with two players, hold the Switch vertically and play in handheld mode, a nice touch!). There’s also a campaign mode which gets tough faster than Bruce Banner when he stubs his toe, a very solid challenge over ten matches.

Alongside these various modes there is also a coin fountain where you can toss in the coins that you’ve accumulated through your matches. In doing this, you can unlock extra costumes and other items to add variety to the game. Whilst you start off with a few characters, part of the fun of the game is unlocking everything that Spiritsphere has to offer, including extra characters, costumes and arenas. Considering the inherent simplicity (and yet beauty) of the core game play (score points by hitting the spiritsphere past your opponent), I found myself enjoying the amount of little bonuses and touches that were available as I worked to unlock more content. The controls are really satisfying, and as you dash around, charging up curved shots to bedazzle your opponent whilst trying to find a weakness in their defence as you collect items like shields and potions that turn your character into a giant, the game opens up and gets quite absorbing with a real ‘one more go’ factor.

Much like Lupinball on PC, I know that Spiritsphere DX will be a game that comes out whenever I have friends over and we fancy some quick-fix battling action, a worthy addition to any Switch owner’s collection. Don’t think Mario tennis, think Zelda tennis with a retro twist.

Right, I’m off to unlock everything else and curve-shot my way to victory!

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