Spare Parts Hands-On Preview – Some Assembly Required
Written Thursday, November 25, 2010 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Spare Parts is a charming little XBLA game that takes Insomniac's Ratchet & Clank series on PS3 as its inspirational touchstone and crafts its own brand of quirky platforming fun in a similar mould. This is a good thing. Starring two robots named Mar-T and Chip who find themselves stranded on an alien planet after they're dumped with a consignment of trash, the duo embark upon an adventure to recover the requisite parts to rebuild an abandoned ship they discover.
Assembling a space-worthy craft to make good their escape from the planet's inhospitable surface before the evil Lord Krung tracks them down is the name of the game then and during Mar-T and Chip's journey, there are plenty of collectibles to gather including 100 ship parts. And what platform game would be complete without loads of coins to scoop up? Spare Parts is of course no exception in this department, and you can actually use your coins to gamble on games of rock, paper, scissors with your co-op buddy if you like. It's also the game's currency, used for purchasing various items, the details of which we sadly didn't get to see during our hands-on with the game, but we're sure there's some good stuff to splash out on.
You begin each level by jumping into a teleporter located inside the ship that acts as the game's hub area, where your Simon Pegg voiced AI helper Con-rad resides, dispensing helpful information and other humorous asides. From here you can pick from any of the stages you've completed thus far and beam in through the teleportation device, straight into the game. Dabbling with the Jungle Approach level, we come across a few Krofax troopers – the green-brained minions of Krung sent to destroy Mar-T and Chip – that are easily dispatched with a few punches and a torpedo dive for good measure.
With upgrades to Mar-T and Chip's abilities, fighting through Spare Parts becomes increasingly enjoyable and so, for the purposes of our hands-on demo, we're presented with a fully-upgraded robot, primed for battle with the ability to fire energy bolts, jet around with rocket boots or climb certain metallic surfaces with magnet boots. Using the right and left bumpers, you can cycle through any of these enhancements and switch to them to perform appropriate tasks.
Co-op is also of the drop-in, drop-out variety, although you'll need the services of a friend via local or online play to activate some of Spare Parts' machines, whether it's turning the valves on twin gas canisters to mix the substances or jumping onto platform scales at the same time, you'll need to communicate with your co-op friend to get it right, or you'll fail to garner the maximum reward. Hit the synchronisation on time and you'll see a flurry of points and coins.
Indeed, some areas are inaccessible without a friend, so enlisting some help will be essential if you want to attain a 100% completion rating and salvage all 100 ship parts. Acquiring the numerous gadgets obviously helps too, with the big fists used for smashing down certain barriers, rocket and magnet boots granting access to otherwise unreachable locations and X-ray specs being used for seeking out hidden items and secret areas, rather than ogling at ladies' undergarments, which is the first thing we'd do with X-ray specs. Admit it, you would too. Unless you're female, in which case you'd look at a bloke's pants or something.
Spare Parts is suitably bright and breezy, playing like any good platform game worth its salt that you might expect to find in a box on the shelf of your local games emporium. That it's actually a downloadable title is pretty remarkable considering the level of quality currently on show and Napper also tells us that a straight run-through with Spare Parts' campaign will take roughly six hours, whereas attempting to reach 100% completion by collecting everything, rescuing all of the captive robots on the planet and accessing all of the hidden secrets will take about twelve hours or so. Not too shabby for 800 Microsoft Points.
Spare Parts is due to release on XBLA before the end of the year.