SPRay Review
SPRay box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Tecmo 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Eko System 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Dec. 9, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

With the unique functionality of the Wii and the already incredibly large library of games for the system, one might expect there to be a plethora of interesting titles that put the motion mechanics to good use. In reality, most Wii games either use the system’s capabilities in very limited and gimmicky ways or not at all. So, it was with great pleasure we took off on Tecmo’s latest Wii adventure, SPRay. Together with the somewhat-fledging developer, Eko System, the publisher that created franchises such as Ninja Gaiden, Fatal Frame, and Tecmo Bowl, now brings one of the most unique and quirky experiences to Wii.

SPRay screenshot

SPRay, whose name is a play on both the game’s basic mechanic and the main character, Ray, is about a fairytale kingdom that comes under siege by an evil queen and her minions of antimatter. When the king is sucked into the void during the assault, Ray then takes up his father’s magical crown in an attempt to save his people. Though divided by dimensions, Ray and his father can still communicate, and Ray is tasked with collecting a bunch of crystals. Only through the power of these crystals can he bring order back to his castle and kingdom.

Once the game’s opening wraps up, Ray’s dad instructs him to visit the town where the first of the game’s many crystals can be found. From the castle, Ray makes his way through the first portal, and the game then walks you through the basics. There are a total of six portals in the game, each home to a unique dungeon. The castle is the game’s hub, and after finding a certain number of crystals, you’ll make your way back there periodically for further instruction from dear, old Dad.

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You move Ray with the Nunchuk’s control stick and jump with the A button. You can also perform a sort of ground pound by pressing A while in midair (this action will be especially useful against ice spiders or other enemies that are impervious to Ray’s basic attack). However, the game’s main feature, and what most of the many puzzles are based around, is the spray mechanic. When you first put on your father’s crown, two imps appear – one an angelic creature, the other a demon. The angel can spray liquids such as water and ice, and the demon can spray things like slime and vomit…yeah, vomit. Spraying the environment doesn’t just play heavily into the gameplay, it is the game’s mainstay. Thankfully, the use of the various sprays and how they figure into puzzles is incredibly entertaining.

SPRay screenshot

In the first chapter, you’ll be using the spray mechanic in fairly simple ways. You’ll reveal hidden bridges with vomit or put out fires with water. However, the game wastes no time in introducing new and somewhat-devious platforming elements that will require players to think outside the box. Almost every time Ray reports back to his father, his dad is able to upgrade his abilities through the power of the crystals. Once you acquire the slime spray, things really get going. For instance, during the third chapter (of the first portal), you’ll have to slime up a reversible walkway, shoot a lever with water to flip the platform, and then walk upside-down to get to the next area. Other obstacles will require you to line a wall with slime and then jump up onto the now-sticky siding in order to get to an area otherwise unreachable.

The ice spray, on the other hand, allows Ray to move faster along the ground – literally ice skating. Ice will also enable Ray to jump far across long distances or belly flop onto slanted platforms. Things really get interesting when you have to use different sprays in conjunction with one another. One example is a puzzle that requires you to line a walkway with ice, race through a fast-closing gate, and then jump onto a sticky wall you previously slimed in order to make your way up a tall platform. There are a ton of such puzzle-platforming jaunts – it’s what the game’s all about, really – and SPRay, surprisingly, does a bang-up job of constantly throwing new challenges at you.

SPRay screenshot

The levels start out fairly brief, but later become a labyrinth of crazy platforms. The game’s very forgiving in terms of dying, and when Ray does lose all his health, he’ll generally restart from just before where he died. He’s got a health bar that sits up in the top-left corner of the screen, as well as an icon that displays the spray he’s currently using and the energy tank for it. Both Ray’s health and spray energy can be replenished by spraying flowers found throughout levels.

Now, from what we’ve told you, SPRay may sound like a great game, and it does, in fact, have greatness in it. There is platforming here that rivals any Super Mario game and puzzles that stand up to The Legend of Zelda. However, SPRay simply stumbles far too often due to poor execution in a few key areas.

Screenshots / Images
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