by Chris Priestman
reviewed on X360
Spare Parts is a game that caught my easy-to-grab attention with a colourful palette, and a good deal of boasting about having comedic actor Simon Pegg on board. After seeing that both fighting and a bit of platforming was to be involved, the game certainly sustained my interest. The child inside of me that played Crash Bandicoot for much longer than was healthy, was panting with anticipation. And whilst that side of me was rather satisfied after playing Spare Parts, my adult voice certainly had a few things to grumble about.
Perhaps the biggest divide in this game is not my schizophrenic opinions of it, though. Instead, this has to be awarded to the opposing experiences of playing this game by yourself, and playing it with a partner. The developers claim it was designed more for the latter, but the end result suggests otherwise.
Doing The Robot
With the modern popularity of robots proven in films like Wall-E and Transformers, Spare Parts reaches out its robotic arms and makes itself another welcome addition. Playing as Mar-T (see what they did there), you happen across an abandoned spacecraft and its computer Con-Rad, after being stranded on an alien planet. The ship needs repairing though, and you are tasked to collect all of the parts scattered around the planet to repair the ship. To make things a little more difficult, you also have to prevent Lord Krung and his alien minions from capturing the ship and using its advanced technology to his evil ends.
It has to be said that the story is a minor issue in the game as it is the gameplay that becomes the focus. The way the story is told through some crisply animated cut-scenes and Simon Pegg’s voice is certainly a strength of the game. Its characters, environments and general visual appeal all help contribute to the game’s personality. I can imagine myself as a child being able to get really absorbed into it all and loving every minute of it. Not to say my adult side did not enjoy it of course, it is humorous and appealing to all ages, but this is a game that certainly has a younger audience in mind.
The alien world on which you will spend most of your time contains a good variety in environments, from a leafy jungle to dark caves and a stone temple. The cartoon-like style of the game carries a very colourful palette and will light any kid's eyes up as if they were in a sweets shop. The ship, which acts as the hub for the game, is equally equipped with flashing lights, mechanical sounds and a handy tutorial room where you can sharpen up your skills and learn new ones. This is also where Con-Rad will impart his humour and some advice to you if necessary.
The best way for me to describe Spare Parts, is to tell you that it is almost a carbon copy of the LEGO games. For those that do not know what this entails: the game is full of short levels that have you button mashing to fight multiple enemies, working out small puzzles and collecting lots of goodies whilst always on the lookout for secret areas. In the LEGO games you often had to use different characters due to their varying abilities to proceed. Spare Parts is very much the same but does this differently by having mechanical upgrades to your robot. An example is using your power arms to smash a boulder out of the way, another would be using your magnet boots to climb a vertical metal surface. So the game combines the formula from the LEGO series of games with Ratchet and Clank gadgets, and does it pretty well.
Of course, you do not start with all of these abilities, which means that you will have to replay some levels to collect items that you couldn’t the first time around. Other than collecting the parts for the ship and extra abilities, there is also money to stack up in order to upgrade your robot parts, data disks for extra tutorials, and other robots to rescue that actually double up as extra playable characters. Inevitably the game does lack some originality, but there is enough creative input for it to stand on its own legs. It would not survive as a full-blown retail title as the games that it takes it's influence from fill that gap. The presentation and gameplay is almost to the level of those bigger titles, with the main difference being the shorter length of the game.
Universal appeal, satisfying gameplay, aesthetically pleasing
Co-op play needs some tweaking, a few annoying bugs, feels a bit stiff