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Game Review: The Splatters

For: Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live)

From: SpikySnail Games/Microsoft

ESRB Rating: Everyone (mild fantasy violence)

Price: $10

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On paper, "The Splatters" sounds familiar enough. The object is to clear clusters of orbs scattered around each level, and doing so entails launching smiling blobs (known as Splatters) toward them at the angle and power of your choosing.

Along with a three-star scoring system, comparisons to any number of mobile games would appear inevitable. But the Splatters aren't called Splatters just because. Eventually - be it via collision or combustion - the Splatters indeed splatter into an unwieldy liquid whose properties and subsequent splash effect are exponentially dicier to handle than some angry bird. "The Splatters" offers a handful of maneuvers that let you change direction mid-flight, launch a powerful but messy kamikaze attack, and even rewind your active Splatter's flight path while its physical instability and the surrounding level continue progressing forward.

Chaining these and other tricks is imperative toward achieving three-star scores and sharing brag-worthy gameplay clips on the online community channel, but intricate levels and haphazard physics means even completing these 65 levels - sorted into basic, combo-centric and trick shot-centric flavors - a deviously fun challenge that goes well beyond simple aiming and firing. The challenge ramps up early and significantly, and the mercurial physics elude complete mastery even with practice. But responsive controls and an easy means for instantly resetting a level if a strategy goes south make the pursuit of those stars fun and frustration-free.

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