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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Can't Shake Off FOAMSTARS's Splatoon Vibe, BUT...

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Is it really still “fresh”?

There was a very memorable game from yesterday's PlayStation Showcase 2023 that is worth talking about in further detail, and it's not Spider-Man 2. It is FOAMSTARS by SQUARE ENIX, described as “the fresh new 4v4 online party shooter” releasing for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 at an undetermined date. You will use...
“foam to build terrain, creating slippery surfaces to surf around the arena at high speed, help defend from enemy attacks, or create vantage points to take out opponents. And most importantly, to foam up the opposition! Join the foam-blasting frenzy!

Initially, I thought it was just Splatoon-esque in aesthetic right when it was just in the cutscene part with the diving and shooting and having a cute female-lead main character, but then it very quickly became Splatoon-esque in everything else, too. Like sound effects, weapons and how you navigate. I mean, you could also describe Splatoon as a “fresh new 4v4 online party shooter”, and that's pretty much how Nintendo themselves described the first Splatoon on the Wii U. (Nevermind that Sony's also-announced “Project Q” that streams from your PlayStation 5 to a handheld device is also similar to a Wii U.) I will say that FOAMSTARS looks like a much more inspired Splatoon knock-off that already appears to have more effort into it than Sepia Go! was.

Splatoon 3 Trizooka FOAMSTARS three shot bazooka Inkzooka
Above: A foam-launching bazooka that shot three blasts in the FOAMSTARS trailer.
Bottom: An ink-launching bazooka, the Trizooka, that specifically shoots three blasts in Splatoon 3.
By the way, I'm excited for the new Sizzle Season starting in June. There'll be a much better Tenta Brella kit with a Trizooka.

Is FOAMSTARS more than just Splatoon but with bubbles instead of ink? If we try to look moment-by-moment in the trailer starting with the gameplay over a minute in, I've identified...
  • Each team has their own colour bubbles, similar to ink.
  • The actual shooting has similar sound effects to a Splatoon shooter; the character is shooting at 1:13 with two guns at a time, similar to a Dualies weapon from Splatoon
  • Maybe the machine gun is similar to a Splatling?
  • 1:16 has a surfboard mechanic to move faster in your own foam colour, similar to how Inklings or Octolings can turn into squid/octopus form to swim in friendly colour-ink faster than walking
  • 1:22 has the Trizooka pictured above
  • 1:24 has the same character with the foam bazooka but it's clearly a different match based on the colours around. Perhaps your weapon/special weapon is tied to a different “hero” (portrayed in the cutscene intro) than Splatoon's system of having customisable but otherwise generic characters with the ability to pick a pre-determined weapon kit. Them getting “splatted” seems pretty different and I don't really understand it. They seem to get stuck in a bubble and then attacked again and then something happens?
  • 1:29 is a Reefslider?
  • Say, are 1:34 Tenta Missiles?
  • 1:42 is the Baller from Splatoon 2.
  • 1:45 is the Inkstrike from the first Splatoon.
  • 1:48 is is the Splashdown special from Splatoon 2.
  • 1:50 is the original Killer Wail from Splatoon.

It's nice that FOAMSTARS will give access to similar-to-Splatoon for Wii U experiences, since one still cannot play Splatoon online for the Wii U due to “temporary emergency maintenance” in effect since the beginning of March.

There were some differences. A weapon that is like a flamethrower but with bubbles. However the KO/respawn mechanic will work. The defined heroes. The significantly different looking map design philosophy. The fact that the foam isn't just flat on the ground like ink is, but it can stack up on itself to create some verticality that acts as a defense and gives you the high ground. Rather than ink covering other ink and staying flat, your foam can cover other foam and it'll stack up. That could make it play, in practice, very differently than Splatoon, and I'm interested in learning how the game will be balanced around the much greater verticality and open map design. And there is a lot more to this that we have not seen.

I've read that a lot of people have doubt that SQUARE ENIX is capable of maintaining a non-predatory live service game for a long enough amount of time to make getting into it worth it. I think it's way too early to already write off FOAMSTARS based on that when we know nothing about the game besides what is in that trailer.

What do you think of FOAMSTARS? Do you have an open-mind to it? Have you noticed other similarities to Splatoon that Ludwig might not have mentioned? Share your thoughts in KoopaTV's comments section!


  1. The only big thing missing is Foamfests, but I'm sure that they will be mentioned during the next Research Report Presentation.

  2. Ha! Sonys PlayStation has always been trying to copy nintendos style, ever since its inception. I suppose it would have been a part of Nintendo if things had turned out differently. Sure this is more Square Enix’s doing, but you get it. I’m glad Sony is accepting of more weirdish stuff again, but it could be a bit more original. Unless Splatoon like gameplay just becomes a thing, like all those games that blatantly copy the smash bros game style.

    1. Well, if the game is a commercial failure, then I guess it won't be a very accepting audience.

      Good luck, SQUARE ENIX!

  3. If Splatoon 3 has stages based on Tetris, will Foamstars be based on the Sega's Columns?

    1. Are we positioning Foamstars as bizarro-Splatoon?
      That would be even more linear! So I hope not.


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