Hot on the heels of the recently released Mario Tennis Aces is an indie game that aims to capture an addictive tennis experience of its own. SpiritSphere was originally released on Steam last year by Eendhoorn, but the developer of the excellent Slime-San, Fabraz, picked this one up as a publisher for the DX edition on Switch. Naturally, I eyed this one closely as it slowly made its way to the eShop.
This is one of those games where each character has their own story to follow in the Campaign mode. They all carry one common theme though: the end battle with the demonic beast known as Baphomet. The stories can each be summed up as a quest to defeat Baphomet and accomplish what the character has set out for in the first place.
SpiritSphere DX apes a lot of its visual style from Link’s Awakening and the similar The Legend of Zelda games on the Game Boy Color. The characters and environments alike are rather limited in palette choices as a result, but they are at least distinguishable in design. The playing field takes up a fraction of the screen but there is a tabletop mode that uses a neat vertical display. Probably the most impressive parts of the presentation are the character portraits that show them in greater detail and the slick performance of the gameplay.
What’s an 8-Bit style game without 8-Bit style music? SpiritSphere DX doesn’t break from this tradition, and it’s all the better for that. The soundtrack adds nicely to the intensity of the game’s matches while also fitting the environments the arenas are set in. The sound effects also get their due thanks to how the characters connect their hits against the sphere. There is even some HD Rumble utilized to really make you feel like you hit it!
Imagine if the pre-Nintendo 64 Zelda games had a tennis spin-off. SpiritSphere DX can best be summed up that way, especially if you’re playing as Lin (who is pretty much a Link expy). You and an opponent stand on opposing sides of the field as you fit a magical sphere back and forth, trying to hit it past each other. Characters can run into the sphere for simple hits but each one has a standard and charged attack to use. They also have differing characteristics from one another so you can’t really expect one character to play just like the next. However, you could try certain characters out and see which one you’d be most comfortable with. There are a few different modes of play too.
The most prominent mode for SpiritSphere DX‘s single-player is the Campaign which is a series of matches in a structure not unlike that of arcade fighting games. You’re also rewarded with coins for every victory you achieve which can be used in a lottery to unlock characters, skins, etc. While I do like how this adds to the replay value, I feel that a regular in-game shop would have been a lot more practical. Aside from that mode, you can play regular rounds of its version of tennis and wall ball with CPUs or friends. There is also a boss mode where you and a friend could team up to face a single touch opponent. While facing CPUs is serviceable enough in these things, you know things would be way better if you gather a friend or few to bring out your A-games.
And when you get right down to it, the action can get pretty intense. SpiritSphere‘s matches are shorter than ordinary tennis sessions but no less full of mind games and tricky situations. The characters you play as can be a factor as well as certain stage gimmicks. It’s just a real shame there’s no online play; taking the competitive nature of it to that degree would have done wonders to escalate the game’s longevity. As it is, the most one can get out of it amounts to playing the Campaign and unlocking things with coins. It’s fine enough given this is a budget-priced indie game; I only suggest it because I did have a lot of fun with this game, and I’d love to have a reason to play it a ton more.
Nevertheless, SpiritSphere DX is a worthy addition to the somewhat growing category of tennis games on Switch. If you don’t feel like going out of your way to get Mario Tennis Aces yet, you could feel free to let this one satisfy your tennis cravings. I give props to Eendhoorn for making a tennis game that stylistically differs from the usual video game conversion of it.
Review copy provided by Fabraz