Spirit Sphere. A nostalgic look at couch multi-player.

Ok, here’s the deal. Spirit Sphere is FUN. Even by yourself. But it makes a great party game. Let’s dive in!

Starting out:
With a new file there’s three basic characters. Lin, who moves pretty quick and has a good reach with her sword. Buster, who is fast on his paws and can return a shot quickly. Then there’s Ozo, a wizard, who moves slower than most but has really good reach and powerful returns. You can unlock more but I’ve not gotten that far. Not yet. You also start with three arenas and two spirit spheres. Each arena is dynamic and plays differently. While the forest arena allows for a lot of item drops with forgiving goals by contrast the dungeon arena forces you to open your defenses to lower your enemy’s while balancing helpful NPCs with item drop opportunities. Killing a hostile NPC might give your opponent a power item. Killing a friendly NPC might get you nothing and you lose their help stunning foes. There’s also the spring arena which resembles a faerie fountain park without the fountain. It challenges you to use the angled walls to your advantage. The starting spheres come in two flavors. Normal and SLOW. The normal sphere is quick and responsive but the slow sphere moves slower. You can use the slow sphere to help train with as it is slightly more forgiving. Unlocks are chance driven. If you want to get new spheres, new arenas, and new characters you’ll need to play a lot in single player or invite friends over for tournaments, much like unlocking in arcade fighters.

Spirit Sphere allows for 4 player local multiplayer. Plug in 4 Xbox controllers and play. It really is that simple. Using the Unity engine the retro aesthetic is joined by very pretty effects that the developer has gone to the effort of matching to the graphical style. The soundtrack is jumpy and energetic. It really adds to the ‘party game’ feel. Each character has various color swaps you can use in these situations. Everyone can play as Lin if they choose to. As your team winds down you may lose a couple of players. If you want to change it up for 2 player competition there is a Squash play mode. In this mode one player is always on the offense while the other defends. This role alternates. The attacking player bounces a sphere off the south wall and the defender has to return it. If you touch a sphere at the wrong time you’ll give a point to your opponent. If you’re defending and the sphere hits the north wall then your opponent scores. More over the low required  specs mean even Windows 10 tablets can run this title. Couch multi-player in that situation would require at most a BlueTooth enabled tablet and Xbox One controller or a Wireless Receiver for Xbox360 controllers and an OTG cable. Sync up the controllers then start the game… ENJOY!

Feature Breakdown:
Visually the game is a real treat to fans of mid 80s consoles and 90s handhelds. While it keeps the retro look there’s more to the visuals than you might notice at first. Sneakily tucked into the retro goodness are graphical effects that wouldn’t see the light of day until after the millennium. Audio quality is top notch. Eendhoorn utilizes Gas1312’s soundtrack really well as it drives the action and keeps the party jumping. The high energy of the music does an amazing job of keeping you engaged in single player modes too. Gameplay wise there’s not much to say. It’s just good fun. The features are complete. The game mechanics feel polished. Besides… watching two defenders try to return a sphere only to trip over one another and score a goal for you is pure bliss. The ease of getting into the game makes even young and newbie gamers viable competition.

TL/DR: As unity games go Spirit Sphere is a real killer. It gives you an energetic musical score, solid single player, amazing multi-player and (best of all) the unlock progress doesn’t drag out endlessly.

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