When Super Meat Boy skidded onto the scene in 2015, it was met with mixed reactions. On one completely degloved hand, you had an excellent platformer that captured the attention with its unique and bizarre premise, but on the other slightly more normal-looking hand, you had players who were immediately repulsed.
Regardless of whether you love Team Meat’s contribution to platform gaming, there is no denying the yuck factor of a skinless boy battling an evil, disembodied foetus (or Dr Fetus, if you spell like an American). Spinch is a somehow less bizarre, far more psychedelic flavour of platformers and — if I were to guess — it tastes like an acid trip.
The eponymous character, Spinch, is on a quest to save its babies from the psychedelic storm which has sucked in its progeny and scarpered off over the rainbow. What follows is a trippy platformer where you bounce and dash your way through a variety of environments, from your standard grassy plains to your standard frozen wasteland, killing or dancing past the colourful enemies as they pop up.
As you do, you will come across one of your babies — three per level — which help you in your fight against the world’s boss. They do this by jumping in a gun and being shot at the enemy. Don’t ask why, it’s just weird.
Another thing helping you in your fight is the one non-white thing in the game which isn’t an enemy: a weird cluster of pink eggs which claims to be your cousin. Think Exeggcute from Pokémon, but less angry. Find your cousin hidden in a level — up to twice per world — and you’ll unlock a one-attempt bonus level.
Despite the chipper look on it’s face, your cousin spends bonus levels hurling its babies into the air, expecting you to catch them before they splat on the ground. It also throws bombs at you, because, why the hell not? Beat the level by not killing at least 75% of its babies and you get a bomb to put in your end-boss gun. Again, I know it’s weird but let’s just go with it.
Unambitious as the game’s background environments might be, you won’t find yourself complaining about it. There is so much going on in the foreground, from the difficult platform sections to the truly eye-catching enemies, that your attention will never be waning. The thumping dance and trance soundtrack is so utterly perfect that, much like your spinchy babies, you can’t help but get sucked in.
The biggest problem I found with this game is that my hands were cramping while playing the game. The gameplay is so tense in parts — such as the levels where you are fleeing a flying enemy which drops bombs that kill you unless you are in a scant piece of shelter — that I have had to put it down and come back many times.
These sections, along with the more difficult platform sections, make for an intentionally challenging game: Queen Bee Games has said that they were trying to bring back old-school difficulty. The quick-restarts and lack of a game-over screen mean that you can keep throwing yourself against the game until you beat it, thankfully, but that doesn’t necessarily make the levels any easier.
If you aren’t a fan of die-and-try-again games, I can tell you right now that you will not finish this game. It takes a fair amount of determination and love for the genre.
Disclaimer: Freelancer and regular contributor Miguel Moran is the social media manager for publisher Akupara Games. He has had no involvement or influence over the review process.