Simple games are a dangerous bet, in that they can make for the best games if done well, but if made too simple, they just come off as boring. Today we’re taking a look at the efforts of a new Swiss developer by the name of games2be, which just launched a game called Spoing on Facebook.
A simple, physics-oriented puzzle-platforming game, Spoing utilizes a very quaint art style coupled with zen-like sounds, to create an euphonic experience reminiscent of very old Facebook titles such as Chain RXN. Unfortunately, its presentation tends to fall apart in terms of its user interface housing.
The idea behind Spoing is to move a ball from Point A to Point B in the least amount of time possible, by using simple sling shots (for lack of a better term) to launch the ball upwards towards the goal.
As one would expect, an ill-aimed shot will result in missing the next platform, and the ball will explode should it touch any part of the level. This is, obviously, where the challenge comes into play, as each successive level’s terrain becomes increasingly difficult to navigate. What makes this even more challenging is that users must complete the level in a minimum amount of time in order to progress to the next one.
Beyond the minimum time, there are also faster milestones the user can reach in order to earn themselves more experience. This is important, as user level acts as the gating mechanism for unlocking newer sets of levels, up to 50. However, in addition to level, users must also utilize “Points” to purchase these level packs as well.
Points are earned in conjunction with the noted time milestones associated with each stage. A completion within the minimum time earns one point, while the medium and fast times earn two and three points respectively. This also appears to be where a social mechanic comes into play.
Beyond basic leaderboard features and wall postings, Spoing also incorporates the points of friends into the player’s total points earned. This is, however, a double edged sword, as it appears to penalize the player should friends not wish to play.
Earning three points on each level will help in progression, but that alone doesn’t appear to be enough. There’s also the slight issue of the game being extremely difficult. In order to compensate for the raw difficulty, Spoing also has floating green dots and musical notes that can be collected between platforms. These stop the timer for a few seconds, with the notes stopping it for slightly longer, and the green dots being usable as a resource in later levels.
In many puzzles, these dots can be used to create platforms of one’s own. Early on, there is no necessity to do this, but as the challenges become harder, with more difficult jumps, further platforms, and moving platforms, using the dots becomes an absolute requirement.
It’s also quite prudent to make platforms when possible, because the game’s play limiting mechanic is based on lives. Every day, users only get a few balls, and it takes an extended period of time to regenerate them. Of course, that means that if players are cautious, they can play forever, but if they’re looking to progress and earn maximum points, the speed requirement leads to many, many deaths.
The highlight to Spoing, however, is not so much its play, but its in-game presentation. Everything is done in a moody, silhouetted style that actually looks fantastic. In addition to this, every movement, dot pickup, and note pickup comes with a nice musical tone. It’s not a music game, but the sounds create a very simple, yet soothing, feel to the app. Unfortunately, this whole feel loses a lot of its praise with the games UI housing.
Spoing is intended to come to the iPhone, so the game itself is vertically oriented within Facebook. Sadly, to fill up the more horizontal orientation of Facebook apps, it is put side by side with the leaderboards and housed within this pale blue box. Considering the look and feel of the game itself, this overly simplistic and plain UI housing takes away considerably from a visual that could otherwise be deemed artistic. The in-game mood desperately needs to be transcribed onto the leaderboards and the rest of the Facebook UI. Additionally, there’s an odd tutorial character that looks like Gizmo from the Gremlins, which also just doesn’t seem to fit.
Despite some of our qualms about presentation, Spoing is actually a pretty cool app. It’s very relaxing and pretty creative as well. Are there other games out there like it? Possibly, but none that we’ve seen yet. It does feel a bit more suited for the iPhone as simple, score-based, social games like this rarely do tremendously well on Facebook. Nevertheless, for a first app from a new developer, Spoing certainly makes for a good start.