Foamstars review — Bursting bubbles

Hero shooters are a dime a dozen these days, so one really needs to stand out to even grab any attention from players. Foamstars’ bizarre world of Bath Vegas certainly does that, with a party atmosphere keeping everything fun and lighthearted. The party’s still just getting started, but will it last through the night? Or burn out before the clock strikes twelve?

Let’s get this out of the way up top: no, Foamstars is not a Splatoon ripoff. While they share similar movement mechanics, Splatoon is about painting the stage while your goal in Foamstars is generally to defeat (or “Chill” as the game insists) the opposing team. So what is Foamstars, then? Well, at the start of each match you pick one of the eight titular Foamstars to play as (only one of each star is allowed on a team), then duke it out with the opposing team of four players in one of three game types. Smash the Star is the basic mode, being a team deathmatch where chilling members of the enemy team seven times will cause their Star Player to appear. Chilling that player will then win you the match. Rubber Duck Party is your standard move-the-payload mode, but the payload is a gigantic rubber ducky DJ who you can dance on top of to boost. This is the mode that has the most in common with Splatoon’s Tower Control. Finally, Happy Bath Survival is the game’s most unique mode. This is still 4v4, but two players are inside the arena fighting while the other two are outside shooting foam to assist. It’s a decent selection of modes, with Smash the Star being my personal favorite.

Foamstars Gameplay - PS5 [GamingTrend]

Foamstars’ eight Foamstars all play very differently. Each Foamstar has a unique weapon, two abilities, and a SuperStar Skill, or SSS. Let’s use Soa as an example. Soa uses dual pistols and can rapid fire bubbles in an arc (You can aim with motion controls too, which is always welcome). She uses up ammo quickly, but can chill an enemy easily if her aim is accurate. Soa has two stacks of her L1 ability, Bubble Step. Bubble Step has her jumping in an arc firing bubbles in a vertical pattern, with the direction determined by the left analogue stick. On R1 is Spiky Beat, where she’ll throw out her bubble buddy, Spiky, who will then explode after a short time like a grenade. Finally, her SSS, Gotta Crush, sees her hamster-balling around the arena, leaving foam in her wake and knocking back enemies before exploding in a burst of foam. Soa is a mid-range fighter, while Agito for example is short range with the Baristador and Mel T being better from a distance.

Each character can also be equipped with a set of Bubble Gems. You spend one Energy Stone to create one Bubble Gem in a slot, with three able to be equipped in a set. Spending a gem will randomly generate a passive buff, such as movement speed up or SSS gauge fill rate, from a rank of E to S. I really don’t get this system, as it feels like loot boxes but the prizes don’t matter. I never felt a difference when using these even with two A rank buffs. You can safely ignore these, or fill them up once for each character – your skill is really the only thing that matters.

All shots and abilities will leave foam on the ground. Shoot enough foam in one spot and it’ll build up, creating a wall or hill that shots can’t go through. More importantly though, you can surf on foam of your color to move faster with L2, while enemy foam slows you down and damages you. You can remove enemy foam by shooting it with your own, but it takes longer to replace than simply laying down your own color on empty land. Foam also disappears over time, so be sure to keep up your team’s pathways. It’s an interesting take on the idea proposed by Splatoon while still keeping the focus on the mode’s objective.

Surfing isn’t just for movement, however. After being hit with enough foam, an enemy or ally will turn into a big ball of the stuff. To actually get the chill, you then need to run into them with your board, kicking the ball across the stage to hit a wall and burst. Conversely, if you surf into an ally who’s foamed up you’ll save them, sending them high into the air with about half their health restored. If an ally is knocked away by an enemy, you can still save them if you happen to touch them with your board before they hit a wall. If no one surfs onto someone foamed up, they will eventually explode. This is one of the most satisfying and tense parts of Foamstars, as chasing a foamed up enemy down before their team does leads to some fun strategic moments. Do you make a run for it or try and go for a two in one kill? If you’re the one foamed up, slowly rolling your way towards an ally as someone approaches to send you to your doom is nail biting.

Unfortunately, this does rely on your teammates to be competent, and in my several hours of playtime and dozens of matches, this is rarely the case. The game’s tutorial does a decent job of teaching you all the mechanics, but many of my matches had players that simply didn’t use the board to save allies or chill enemies. This is why we have yellow paint on everything now. It’s not the game’s fault, but getting into matches with players who don’t know how to play is very frustrating.

While PvP is the main focus, there is also a PvE mode. You can play this single player to experience each character’s story, or with a group of 4 outside the story, though both are wave based, defend the point type modes. Playing in a group is a decent change of pace, and single player will tell you more about the incredibly strange world of Foamstars. (The Foamstars actually secrete foam from their bodies to use as ammo. So that’s… interesting.) The writing and voice acting, however, are universally terrible. You’ve got weirdly structured sentences read by actors who sound inexperienced and lacking direction or context. The poor acting genuinely makes me hesitant to jump into single player, and as the final nail in the coffin: playing alone in this mode is very boring. This is more meant to serve as a tutorial for each character, but it goes so slowly and offers virtually no challenge – every stage I played I got an S rank on my first try – it’s better to just experiment in the hub then jump into a match. You do earn experience and unlock things from this, but it is faster and more fun to go online.

Speaking of unlocks, you have both battle pass levels and player levels. The battle pass has two tiers, free and premium, and currently Mel T is locked behind the premium tier at level 1 or level 31 of the free tier. There are unlocks available to the free tier every 3 levels, but with premium you’ll be unlocking new cosmetics every level. Aside from Mel T, the battle pass only unlocks cosmetics and emotes, with the other unlockable character, the Baristador, unlocking at player level 3. Most of these cosmetics weren’t too interesting to me, and since Soa is my favorite character to play I stuck with her trans pride outfit you get for playing the beta (it’s not actually called that, but you cannot change my mind). If you want even more cosmetics, they are available to purchase for real money in the in-game store. For a game that is already buy-to-play, requires PS Plus, and has a paid battle pass, they’re really asking for a lot of cash. The Akimbo Akindo shop cosmetics are time limited and can cost anywhere from 99 cents for an exp boosting party popper to $10.99 for a single skin. You can also purchase a bundle for each character containing a set of their cosmetics, one for each slot, for $49.99 – more than the price of the game itself. That is bonkers.

Let’s get back to the positives, because aside from the voice acting the game looks and sounds great. It’s got a very poppy, colorful art style with doll-like characters and some sleek UI and menus. Being set in Bath Vegas, there’s a decadent excess to just about everything, with neon around every corner. One stage is even inspired by a roulette table, which is very cool. It certainly feels like you’re a celebrity at the most expensive party out there. The music generally takes cues from this, with party tracks from every era including swing and more modern, electronic tracks. It’s a fantastic soundtrack that sets you up for the high energy atmosphere.

These tunes are, unfortunately, represented by album covers that were generated by AI. Frankly, all of these are terrible and tell you nothing about the track or the in-universe band that could have created them. Once you take into account the unethical theft of real artwork by real artists that the AI was undoubtedly trained on, it gets much worse. In particular, there’s one album featuring rubber duckies that has weird patterns and no consistent shape for the ducks. It’s ugly, and if I were Square I wouldn’t want shoddy artwork representing anything in my games.

As a final note, I experienced a lot of rubber banding playing Foamstar. (The single player isn’t affected by this, but you still need to be connected to the server to play that.) One moment I would be surfing away from an enemy with full health, the next I’m back next to them and already foamed up. Adam, another GamingTrend Editor, also experienced this issue, so while it’s not the most common problem it’s still worth mentioning.

David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.

Adam is a musician and gamer who loves his partner in crime, Regan, and their two pets Rey and Finn. Adam is a fan of Star Wars, Mass Effect, NFL Football, and gaming in general. Follow Adam on Twitter @TheRexTano.

Editor | Website

Corvo is a writer who loves to explore journalism through video games. Writing and editing reviews for triple-A games and indies alike, he finds his passion within expressing his experiences in a fair and accurate manner. Some of Corvo's favorite games are Destiny 2, Mass Effect, and Disco Elysium.

An avid enthusiast of both tabletop and video games, finding endless joy in exploring different realms of entertainment!




Review Guidelines

Foamstars can be a blast under the right conditions. It’s colorful, fast, fluid, and has a great party atmosphere. It’s also disgustingly over monetized, has terrible voice acting, and a boring single player mode. When you’re in a match with players of a similar skill level playing as your main, it’s a ton of fun. But with only three main modes the fun can run out fairly quickly. Who knows how long Foamstars will last, but even with the negatives it’s still worth giving it a shot.

David Flynn, Adam Moreno, Corvo Rohwer and Henry Viola

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