This is SpiritSphere. It's a retro-inspired competitive sports game from developer Eendhoorn. It's hitting Steam Early Access later this month, but right now is a good time to start getting excited. I'm committed to figuring out what this game is all about. Let's crib this.
So ... is it a Zelda game?
No, I choose to look at it more as a WindJammers clone that just so happens to look like one of the best Nintendo Entertainment System games of all time. You do remember WindJammers, right? It was a Neo Geo game released back in 1994 that took the old school Pong formula to the beach. It's a surprisingly addictive competitive sports game full of power plays and fun level designs. It's the kind of game that should have spawned a bunch of sequels. But that didn't happen, proving once again that there's no justice in this world.
SpiritSphere takes the fast-paced back and forth of WindJammers and makes it look almost exactly like The Legend of Zelda. Actually, it looks more like The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, but maybe that's just me. The developer doesn't hide the inspiration, referencing Zelda right in the press release. They talk about going to great details to give the game an authentic 8-bit look and feel, and I think they've pulled it off.
Is there a single player mode?
There is, but it's not much to talk about right now. In its current form, SpiritSphere only has three characters and four backgrounds, so you'll basically play through each of the backgrounds with each of the characters. There's no story or anything, just a barebones example of what the single-player mode could look like when it's done.
For what it's worth, the three characters are all a little different. There's a woman named Lin who has more than a passing resemblance to Link. Buster is a cat who swats the ball around with its tail. And don't forget about Ozo, a ghoulish figure that seems to be permanently shrouded in shadows. It's fun to play with all three of these characters and I can't wait to see who they add next.
What about the special moves?
That's a good point. Although I didn't notice it at first, all three characters have a charge move they can unleash for a powerful strike. There are also power-ups to pick up and use, such as arrows and a potion that can make you real big. I didn't need to use these pick-ups for most of the single-player mode, but I can imagine things getting real intense when both sides are chucking arrows at each other.
As a fan of both old school Zelda and WindJammers, I love the direction SpiritSphere is headed. There's not much content in the current build, but there's a lot of promise here. It comes out July 27th and will list for under $5. That seems like a fair price for what's in the package, but don't go in expecting a ton of content. This is still early and there are a lot of characters and backgrounds to add. I like what I see so far and definitely see the potential, so this may be something worth keeping an eye on.