Anyone who has played the slightest amount of Splatoon, the Nintendo-exclusive third-person shooter, will be instantly familiar with Foamstars, which had its open beta during the weekend.
Foamstars sees you jump into battle, firing foam at your enemies and on the floor, where you can surf along it for fluid and quick movement. Splatoon is the same thing, except replace “foam” with ink and “surf along it” with “dive into it.” In fairness, Splatoon’s primary mode does focus on covering an area in ink to win, meanwhile, Foamstars’ two modes focus more on taking out your opposing players, but both games play in an extremely similar fashion.
The games even have similarities in the presentation, which are treated very light-heartedly with gameshow elements. Foamstars does have more influence from character-based shooters. You and your teammates cannot pick the same character, and with how quickly they get picked in the pre-game lobby, it forces you to get comfortable with a range of styles.
For all the similarities, though, Foamstars has one major trump card over Splatoon. The simple fact is the different hardware is more than enough to justify its existence. To paraphrase an old advert — Sony do what Nintendon’t. Namely, good online capabilities. I’ve played Splatoon, it is a superb franchise, but online could have been better.
With solid servers and the implementation of voice chat, Foamstars will be a much more enjoyable title. Now, admittedly, this was where the beta had issues — getting into a match was difficult. Call of Duty this was not, I would spend a while waiting to get put into games. The thing is, I’d trust a beta released on a Sony platform to address this quicker than I would ever expect from Nintendo.
A lot of this will depend on the eventual content of the title. In beta, Foamstars did not have a great deal to do, so the gap between this and the full release will go a long way in deciding its fate.
The concept behind Splatoon/Foamstars is one that should be very digestible to the current market of shooting titles, which seem to be generally quite serious affairs. It is rather hard to take Foamstars seriously and for that, we should rejoice. It might be a complete rip-off of Splatoon, but if you’re going to take such heavy inspiration from an idea, well then make it a good one and put it on a console that the other game will never reach.
This should turn out to be a perfect antidote to the range of shooters on offer at the moment, with Call of Duty pumping out very familiar titles year after year, this really offers a tonal contrast. The beta may have had issues, but what was on offer was very promising, and the issues do not seem to be ones that a full release should encounter.
Yes, Foamstars is familiar but it was also really good fun and for Sony consoles — really fresh. I’ll look forward to its full release in early 2024.