During its initial reveal at the State of Play, I was surprised that Square Enix was trying their hand at the competitive shooter genre. Especially when we have such juggernauts as Nintendo’s Splatoon on the Switch, or even Call of Duty on PlayStation. And really, the question is simple: Can Foamstars compete with these, or, like most parties, just a passing fad?
Everyone Can Party–With Foam!
In Foamstars, our story takes place in Bath Vegas, where the Foamstars, that is to say, people who wield special weapons capable of shooting foam, compete in Foamsmash tournaments to see who can reign victorious. Upon starting the game, you have the choice of seven unique characters, with others being unlockable by either leveling up, or…purchasing a Season Pass. Trust me, we’ll get to that in a bit.
Each character has a different set of skills and a Superstar Skill, and the goal is to kill, er, pardon me, chill, your opponents, but as the game points it out, this isn’t a fight to the death. Rather, it’s just a party where everyone should just enjoy themselves and have a good time.
Party Online Against Others
In Foamstars, there are a variety of online modes. The first we have is Smash the Star, which is the typical 4 vs. 4 player matchup. The objective is to chill a player from the opposing team 7 times. Once you do so, one of the four players will be assigned as that team’s Star Player, and if you manage to foam up that star player, you win.
Next, we have Happy Bath Survival, with players separated in a outer ring and a inner ring. The inner ring has 2 players from each team competing against each other, with the other two assisting the other players from the outer ring. Players on the outer ring can also easily move around as the outer ring is covered in foam, allowing for quick navigation.
And finally, we have Rubber Duck Party, which as the name implies, has you guide the Rubber Duck to the opposing team’s goal. Players who stand at the top of the location will stop at fixed checkpoints and if you reach your destination, that’s it, you win!
I liked all of the modes, but if I had to pick a favorite, I’d say Rubber Duck Party is my favorite, with my least favorite being Smash the Star. Rubber Duck Party can be genuinely challenging, and even if you get chilled, nothing’s stopping you from trying again and just hopping into the tower to help your teammates. Meanwhile, in Smash the Star, the moment the Star Player appears is the time that it becomes chaos, as everyone needs to scramble to defeat or defend the player, who also needs to carefully avoid enemy attacks.
Beautiful Graphics That Can Be Tiring for the Eyes
Foamstars’s graphics look absolutely stunning on a 4K display, but they are for sure, very colorful. So much in fact, that it can be really easy to just want to stop playing and rest your eyes after just 30 minutes of playing a Ranked match. If you’re on the PlayStation 5 version, the developers have also implemented the DualSense’s haptic feedback, which isn’t too strong, but that feedback can be really tiring on your hands, so I recommend turning down the intensity through the PS5’s menu, or just disabling it entirely.
Still, matches take no longer than 5 minutes. Foamstars’s game modes operate on a fixed rotation that changes every so often, but I can’t help but think we have a very little amount of stages to play with. Furthermore, there’s not some sort of broadcast that tells you what modes are currently on, which feels like a missed opportunity, given that you can hear some random chats with the characters while you wait for your match.
Getting to Know the Characters More
One of the things about Foamstars is that from the start screen, you can select a mode called Mission. And when I first selected it, I must say I was not expecting a wholly fleshed-out single player campaign to be waiting for me. While the story may be short, it does offer you a lot of context on each character’s backstory, while also teaching you how to use their skills, and their abilities.
Furthermore, you also have Squad Missions, which can be done either with random people or with your friends. Both these and the previously mentioned solo missions will give you an item called Miracle Dust, which you can use to modify your Foamstars’ guns at the lab. These modifications range from increasing the foam capacity to even allowing for stronger skills.
Rather Expensive “Cosmetic” Purchases
Now, Foamstars is, for the time being at least, a game you can obtain for free through PS Plus. However, if you’re reading this after the Essential lineup updates in March 2024, then you will have to purchase the game yourself for $29,99 in the Americas. This wouldn’t be too big of an issue, but then I saw the cosmetics, and oh my god, the pricing…
While I understand the pricing behind the skins, I still think that $9,99 for a single-character skin is rather a big ask. In addition, you can also buy some…crackler things, for as much as $50 in a pack of 100. These are purely cosmetic and don’t really do anything besides a cute emote you can put out while you wait for the match to start. Some of the characters are also locked behind a Season Pass.
A Great Colorful Game That Still Requires Polishing
Overall, I had a lot of fun playing Foamstars. While its single-player campaign is incredibly short, it can offer some good fun as a competitive shooter. That being said however, it does fall a bit short in its lofty ideals that were promised from its initial reveal, and its overwhelming amount of microtransactions are enough to make me not want to recommend this game outside the PlayStation Plus catalogue, and I can definitely see the hype for it dying down as soon as it leaves the catalogue.
- Colorful and beautiful graphics
- Funny and quirky characters
- Riddled with microtransactions
- Can be tiring to play for too long due to the bright flashy effects