PC/Mac/Linux
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Game Info:

SpiritSphere
Developed by: Eendhoorn Games
Published by: Eendhoorn Games
Release date: January 23, 2017
Available on: Windows
Genre: Action
Number of players: Single-player, 2 or 4 players locally 
ESRB Rating: not rated
Price: $7.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Eendhoorn Games for sending us a review code!

SpiritSphere is an interesting mashup between Zelda and Pong.  Your objective is to get the sphere into your opponent’s goal area.  Instead of using paddles, you can use your character and power-ups to block the sphere from going into your own goal.  

There are many different characters and they each have different attacks and special abilities.  When you win a match, you’ll earn coins and you’ll lose thirty coins for each loss.  Coins can be spent at the fountain to unlock new characters and spheres.  Many of the spheres are themed like coin and item ones that drop those items more frequently than normal.  There are also elemental ones like the fire sphere that shoots fireballs towards your opponents when hit.  Last but not least is a potato sphere that speeds up as it bounces off the sides.    

Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun mashup of two classic games; local mutliplayer
Weak Points: Can only have an even number of players; no online play
Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence; magic use; Baphomet is an unlockable character

If you’re playing by yourself, you can practice your moves against the AI and even try out the squash mode which has completely different rules.  The squash mode is turn based and if you hit the sphere when it’s not your turn, the opponent will get a point.  The goal is to not let the sphere hit the back wall. No matter which single-player game mode you play, the first team to three points wins.  There’s a tournament mode where you face off against ten randomly picked levels and opponents.  There are three difficulty levels to choose from and the AI on easy was challenging enough for me.

The mandatory tutorial teaches you how to use your primary and special attacks along with the dash ability, which comes in handy to make a last ditch effort from letting the sphere into your goal.  Some levels have grass that you can cut down with your sword and uncover power-ups that will be useful.  There are shields that will have the sphere bounce off of it a few times before going away.  There are bows and bombs that will stun your opponent for a couple of seconds. 

Accessing the basic tutorial is possible from the game’s main menu, but activating the tutorial on squash mode isn’t easy to do.   I made the mistake of clicking through it too fast and being utterly confused and wondering what I was doing wrong to lose every time.  Since I didn’t want to reset my progress, I scoured the internet and found the gameplay basics on the game’s indiedb update page.  

SpiritSphere
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 86%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Sadly, that’s not the only time I was confused while playing this game.  A couple of my kids wanted to join in and play a multiplayer game with me.  Connecting various gamepads worked well enough, but for the life of us, we couldn’t figure out why the match wouldn’t start.  We selected our characters, the map, the sphere type, the number of rounds we wanted to play, and then tried every button combination we could think of to start the game.  As it turns out, the reason we could not start the match was because we had an odd number of players and this game requires either two or four players to start the match.  There is no explanation or an option to add an AI player for those who have an odd number of players.  

SpiritSphere is relatively clean for children to play.  There is some magic, but it’s pretty tame.  Unfortunately, in the latest update, the Baphomet character became available which is a goat headed idol often associated with occultism.

If you don’t mind those issues and enjoy classic games like Zelda and Pong then SpiritSphere is worth playing.  The single-player mode is fun, but multiplayer is where it’s at if you have an even number of players to go against.  As of this review, there is no online game play, but there are several Steam achievements if you’re into those.  The price is a reasonable $7.99, but it has been on sale before and is worth keeping an eye on.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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