Have you ever wondered what happens to a stone when you drop it down a well? Me either. In part because I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a real well out here in the suburbs of Chicago. My main reference point for wells is a vague sense that they are this thing that used to exist but too many kids fell down, and despite the kids being ultimately saved by their faithful dogs, wells were deemed too dangerous and went the way of the buffalo. Kersploosh! (developed by Poisoft, published by Nintendo) is a game that answers a question that I never asked, and as it turns out, there is a lot more going on inside of a well than I would have expected. For instance, did you know that some wells have cannons inside of them?
This is the game that throwing rocks down wells enthusiasts have been begging for!
Kersploosh! is a bit of a one trick pony, but that’s not entirely a bad thing. The goal of the game is to guide your stone (using the Circle Pad) to the bottom of your chosen well as quickly as possible without running out of hit points. “How difficult could that be?”, you might ask. To help you out, there are donuts that you can go through for a temporary speed boost, as well as balloons to pop for extra hit points. But let us not forget about the cannons; and those are just one of the many obstacles designed to frustrate your progress and steal your life. Support beams, spinning fans, flying cookies, slices of pizza, and more will get in your way, and every time that run into one of these obstacles, you lose some of your hit points, as well as a bit of your momentum. Yeah, I don’t get the weird food obsession either.
Kersploosh! uses a top down camera angle, so you can see everything below your stone as you rush down to meet it. Remember the falling Ridley Battle in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption? It is a bit like that, if Samus were a stone and Ridley were a slice of pizza (note to self: contact Retro Studios about Metroid Prime 4 idea.) Because of this perspective, Kersploosh! stands out as one of the few 3DS games that I have played where the 3D effect is more than just a nice aesthetic; being able to accurately judge the depth of the various obstacles as they speed towards you can definitely help you to navigate the wells efficiently. However, your stones are not transparent, and they also leave contrails that can get in the way a bit, so it is more difficult to tell what is below you than it should be. Aside from the 3D effect, the graphics themselves are serviceable but forgettable, as is the (limited) soundtrack.
For some reason I get hungry every time that I play Kersploosh!
I have been using the term “stone” loosely, because that is what the game itself does. You start with two “stones” to choose from, and you can unlock up to eight more. However, despite being categorized as stones, only one of them is an actual stone. The rest are a whole variety of objects that can be thrown down the wells, including a bouncy ball, a watermelon, a Russian Matryoshka doll, and more. These are not mere cosmetic changes either; each object has its own unique properties, including its size, boost, speed, and total hit points. This sets up an interesting risk / reward scenario where the quickest objects are generally the toughest to make it to the bottom with. For example, you can unlock a tiny mutagen that is by far the fastest object in the game, but it only has a single hit point. In theory, this would be the ideal object for a best time, but only if you can actually make it to the bottom. I have never been able to finish a single well with the mutagen. Other objects range from five hit points to an infinite amount.
And yes, I fully understand that physics dictates that all of these objects should accelerate at the same rate, 9.8 m/s/s, to be precise. But they don’t. If you’re worried about real-life acceleration in a game with cannons inside of wells, your heart is in the wrong place.
The most liberal definition of the word “stone” ever made?
One neat little touch in Kersploosh! is that each of the so-called stones has its own little story behind why it got thrown down a well. I don’t want to oversell this; it’s really just a short little blurb before you start your descent. Still, these are generally well done and give the game a dash of character to go with what is otherwise a pretty straightforward experience.
There are only ten wells total in Kersploosh!, and if you navigate them successfully, each well only takes about a minute or two until you hit the bottom. It can be a bit frustrating at times how often your momentum is cut short though, and it was often difficult for me to find the sense of rhythm that defines my satisfaction with other time trial games. I wish I could say that the wells have a great deal of variety, but the game only has a few tricks and it doles them out sparingly (although the wells do get more difficult, to be sure.) To be totally frank, if you’re not into playing games for a high score (in this case, a low time), you will most likely be done with Kersploosh! in about a half hour. It is a pretty unique high score game though, to be sure, and the core gameplay, although flawed in some ways, is still fun. I played through each of the wells at least three times, some of them many more, trying out different stones, and feeling generally satisfied with the results. However, there are no online leaderboards, so unless you manage to StreetPass with someone who has played the game (I’m guessing the chance of this happening for most of us is approximately 0%), you will have to stick to racing against yourself.
Kersploosh! is a decent game for what it is, and at $3 on the eShop it is tough to complain too much about the price. If you really get into high score type games, this is a fairly original one, and there is definitely fun to be had with it. However, a simplistic presentation, a limited amount of wells that are lacking in great variety, and the absence of online leaderboards keep it from reaching its true potential.
What is inside the Matryoshka doll? You will find out soon enough.
I really welcome games like this on the eShop, it's almost an insta-buy at 3 dollars or less. This game is pretty decent, I agree with all your complaints and will add that the circle pad movement is a little bit too inaccurate for me. I would have liked to guide my stone with a stylus on the bottom screen. 3D is really good, but still the pace is so fast that I often can't see what's coming up next.
The Circle Pad movement can be rough, although I think it really depends on which "stone" you choose. The gem, for instance, is very, very difficult to play with, one little nudge and it goes flying to the other side of the well. I found that for most of the wells the watermelon tended to work best for me... the controls weren't too bad, and it has just enough HP (200) that I could generally make it to the bottom ok, with while still being relatively fast. It's kind of huge though, which works against it both because it makes for tighter fits, and it obstructs your view more.
Good, thorough review as always. I do feel like I'm having more fun with this than I should, for the price.
I keep trying to compare it to the Trench Run in Star Wars, or a perhaps a Star Fox time-trail, but I really feel like I AM THE STONE. I'm ducking and twisting in my seat, and for the full minute my heart is in my mouth - especially when you nail 3 speed boosts in a row!
Total play time: 2 hours. And I'm only on Well #7.
Really needs online leaderboards though. Anyone know if they would ever update the game to include these, or would it be too much hassle?
Wow this game is a TON of fun! I just purchased a 3ds today and this along with Fire Emblem Awakening and Star Fox are the first games I've tried on it. I REALLY love the uniqueness of this game. It does a great job with the 3d effect actually making it an integral part of the experience as opposed to something that feels cheaply tacked on. This game would be perfect for online leader boards.
However, there are no online leaderboards, so unless you manage to StreetPass with someone who has played the game (I’m guessing the chance of this happening for most of us is approximately 0%), you will have to stick to racing against yourself.
Looks like I was wrong, I got two, yes TWO Streetpasses for this game at C2E2 today. Of course, 1 of them didn't even make my leaderboards and the other only beat my scores in 1 of the 10 wells... but I still got them!