I’ll just get what we’re all thinking about out of the way first: yes, Foamstars is more or less Splatoon. It’s not a one-to-one copy, but let’s say they share enough DNA that they could be considered siblings. One is just still watching Saturday morning cartoons and the other is busy managing their MyAnimeList.
Foamstars is a 4x4 class-based competitive shooter where instead of bullets you shoot foam. We were only given access to one mode to play, but I did get a good idea of the basic mechanics of the game. More on the mode later, as it was pretty awesome.
Instead of weapon loadouts, Foamstars features classes with different weapons and abilities. There were eight available in the preview, falling into some familiar archetypes. For example, Jet Justice is a bit more of a tank with his shotgun and ultimate ability that throws up a shield to protect the area from enemy foam.
Weapons come in forms you know, like a shotgun, pistols, assault rifle, etc. There’s somewhat of a gatling gun that essentially works like a huge Super Soaker. The real variety, however, comes in the abilities.
Like Jet Justice’s ultimate ability with the shield, each Foamstar has their own unique way to mess with the flow of battle. They range from turning yourself into a giant ball of foam to run over the arena, to a giant mech that shoots huge blasts of foam.
You’ll want to cover the arena in your team’s foam as it will let you get around a lot quicker. You can surf your team’s foam and are bogged down in the enemy foam, so it's a good idea to remove the enemy's foam whenever possible with your own.
One twist away from Splatoon is that the foam will build up into large walls or hills, allowing you to get a vantage point on your enemies or just be a line of defense, obscuring your team from view. You can also use them as ramps to surf up and launch yourself into enemy territory.
You can take enemy players out by simply shooting them with foam until their health bar reaches zero, but the most effective way is to foam them up enough until they turn into a ball of foam. Once they’re sudsed upped, you or a teammate can surf towards them and take them out.
If you find you find a teammate covered in foam, however, you do have a chance to save them. Just like taking an enemy out, you can surf towards an ally to knock the foam off them so they can get back in the fight. You can also desperately try to roll your way towards an ally to save yourself as well.
The mode we played in our preview was called Smash the Star. In it, as soon as a team gets to seven kills, one of the enemy players becomes the Star of the team with buffed health, damage, and more. If your team kills the Star, you win.
That means that the first team to seven kills will generate the star player for the enemy team, meaning victory is in reach. Of course, the flipside of that is that the star player is now a more formidable foe with a chance to knock out players to even out the match with a star player on each team.
I loved the idea of the mode, and I think it was a great twist on what can be a pretty tired way to play a game in team deathmatch. Obviously, Foamstars will likely feature some more familiar modes, but this is a great start.
Walking away from Foamstars, I wasn’t quite sure to think. Sure, I had fun playing the game, but I also couldn’t help but think it is so close to Splatoon with few deviations that it’s hard to see why someone who already plays Splatoon would make the switch.
All I’m left with thinking is that maybe some people not in Nintendo’s ecosystem, or maybe turned off by the kids of squid, will look to give this a shot. One thing that is sort of a bummer is that Foamstars is only coming to PlayStation 5 and 4, at least as of now. It’s the first big swing at making a Splatoon-like, and it’s unfortunate to see it locked into just a different ecosystem.
Foamstars was previewed on a PlayStation 5 at Summer Game Fest Play Days. Screenshots were provided by Square Enix.