Spoilage Review

Spoilage is a puzzle game with a uniquely disgusting theme: tainted food! You play a colony of purple bacteria on a game board that represents a rotting piece of organic matter. Your job is to do microscopic battle with the rival green bugs, and expand to fill up as much of the board as possible, turning it into a delicious piece of blue cheese… or something. Spoilage is a fun little brainteaser, but it should either be a free app or 99 cents; there’s no way it’s worth $2.99.

The rules governing the Spoilage board are easily understood. It’s kind of a cross between Othello and Chinese Checkers. Each game begins with two purple colonies and two green colonies in the four corners of the board. You can use your turn to either cause one of your bugs to reproduce, causing a new bacteria to appear in an adjacent space, or to jump it up to two spaces away. In either case, any enemy bugs in the eight squares adjoining the space you’ve moved into will be “infected,” switching from green to purple (or vice-versa). Although the basic board is blank, some unlockable boards feature walls you must work around, as well as poison droplets that kill everything in and around the space when activated.

And that’s really all there is to it. You and the computer trade turns growing towards one another and jumping into empty spaces, trying to outflank and overpower the opponent. The game generates some surprisingly complex strategies, considering how few ground rules there are; for instance, jumping allows you to strike at weak spots and cover ground quickly, but it also leaves gaping holes in your defenses that the enemy can jump into. The winner is the side that covers the most territory when all is said and done.

Spoilage’s real problem is that its production is so sparse. The game doesn’t even have a menu screen, and there are no options other than setting the difficulty and toggling sound effects. You can’t choose what board you’re playing on, you can’t play against a buddy, and the game doesn’t track your performance; plus, there’s no music and the graphics, while clean, have no animation at all.

Spoilage can be kind of fun, but it plays like a talented computer science undergrad’s thesis project, not a $2.99 game. Wait until a price drop before you think about picking it up.

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