Spirit Sphere is an amazing physics based game that was created by the solo development team “Eendhoorn Games” despite health concerns. Spirit Sphere was released on Steam for early access on July 27th 2016. With similarities to old-school paddle games such as Air Hockey or Pong, Spirit Sphere is designed to be a fast-paced multiplayer game to be enjoyed with friends.
Much like Air Hockey, in Spirit Sphere the player has to hit the magical sphere into the opposing player’s goal in order to score a point. However unlike Air Hockey or Pong, Spirit Sphere has a few more properties that make the game more interesting. The first of these things are the magical spheres themselves. The game contains several different spheres with effects ranging from changing speed to duplication, and even invisibility. By collecting coins in Single Player mode, the player has the ability to give up coins for random, potentially new, sphere at the “Spirit Fountain”. After unlocking these new spheres, they become available for use in the Multiplayer mode where 2 players can face each other head to head in battle.
Magical spheres aren’t the only items to be included in this game that helps to keep the player’s engagement. The varying levels themselves and a variety of collectable items also adds replayability value for the player. In its current form, there are 4 playable levels that each have certain advantages and disadvantages. Level properties range from protecting certain borders, to calling in backup after losing a point. Each level is governed by its own rules and no two levels share the same special properties. Also in 2 of these 4 levels, the player has the potential to collect items that can help change the outcome of the game in the collector’s favor. Stunning your opponent with arrows or placing a temporary shield or two to help defend your goal are just some of the many things the player has the option to do when items are involved.
With its core gameplay functionality and 8bit pixel art graphics, Spirit Sphere aims to remind older generations of the old game’s they used to play while still appealing to the younger generation’s level of engagement. The graphics and music alone reminded me of the first Arcade games I played as a kid and the inclusion of items and level difficulties allowed me to become enthralled in playing the game for hours. Also simplicity in both the artwork and gameplay mechanics allows the player to easily pick up the game. In short, you can play a nice simple Air Hockey – like game with a friend if you want, or you can add special factors to your game to make it more interesting to play against your friends.
As it is now, Spirit Sphere currently only handles local multiplayer play and only 1v1 battles against friends in addition to a randomized single player mode. While this setup is completely normal and understandable due to the developer’s health, I can’t help but express that this could be improved upon. Adding online multiplayer allows friends who are separated to still play against each other in a multiplayer environment without the need to physically be in the same room. While the keyboard is optimized for multiplayer via the different keyboard keys, the best setup I found is for one person to use the keyboard while the other uses a controller or gamepad. In addition the online functionality, I can also personally see this as a good party game for a small group of friends much like how friends get together to play a “Mario” game, if the ability to have teams or the use of all four sides of the screen were added to the game. However these are my personal feelings towards the game and that doesn’t change the fact that Spirit Sphere is fun game.
Even though Spirit Sphere was optimized for multiplayer gameplay, I found the single player mode to also be fun for the most part. In single player, the player faces a random enemy with a randomized sphere from the pool of spheres the player already unlocked. Winning a game against the A.I. rewards the player with coins for new spheres, while a loss deducts those points instead. Since the game isn’t designed around a story but more so the features, I feel the single player mode does a nice job of keeping the player engaged for some time.
To sum it all up, Spirit Sphere is a very fun physics game that has the potential to be a great game to play with friends. With no official story mode or story of any kind, Spirit Sphere is clearly designed to be a social game to be played with friends. I personally feel that the game would benefit more from an online multiplayer option rather than just a local one but maybe I’m wrong. The game might be good enough for just 2 friends to sit down and play on the couch against each other. Thankfully the game does have full controller support and both players aren’t required to use the same keyboard. Either way, if you’re looking to try out a new social game to play with friends, then I say try out Spirit Sphere when you get the chance.