SPRay is a peculiar mixture of poor 3D Zelda and Super Mario Sunshine gameplay with Wii controls and a terrible camera.
Tecmo's SPRay is an adventure game about a spirited prince named Ray. With the help of his liquid-spouting friends, he has to save his father and his kingdom from the evil Queen Mordack. However, Ray fails to save his own game thanks to uninspired puzzles, unworkable camera control, and lame combat.
The basic gameplay mechanic, and the reason the game is named SPRay, is the hero's ability to manipulate various liquids through two liquid spirits, the angelic Liad and the devilish Gush. By aiming with the pointer and pressing the B button, you can unleash your liquids upon the fantasy world. You can cycle through your liquids using the D-pad.
At the start you can only spout water and vomit, but as you progress through the game, you eventually unlock the power to discharge slime, ice, and antimatter. The combination of all these liquids could have made for some cool gameplay possibilities and interesting puzzles, but it all falls flat. Water extinguishes fire, vomit reveals hidden paths, slime makes things sticky, ice makes things slippery, and antimatter opens portals through walls. They give the appearance of variety, but each has a very particular purpose and that's it. Oftentimes I over-thought the puzzles and tried to use the liquids in interesting ways. The game is rigidly tied to its simple puzzles.
The vilest villain in SPRay is not the wicked Queen Mordack—it's the camera. Combat in this game is a mixture of liquid attacks and Ray's meager sword attacks, which are activated by a shake of the Wii Remote. This would work fine if it weren't for the camera. There is no way to control the camera besides centering it with a double-tap of the Z button, which also happens to be used for locking on to enemies. If you're in the heat of combat, forget about adjusting the camera to your liking. What you'll get instead is a crappy angle on an enemy that you need to miraculously point at with your Remote. Furthermore, most jumps are made twice as difficult thanks to the finicky camera, since you have to position your hero in the perfect spot to even have a prayer of getting the camera view you want. Luckily, if you fall to your doom, you respawn nearby.
As far as the actual progression of the game goes, the overworld map and the levels it contains are extremely unfriendly. With enemies constantly respawning, traversing any area in the game is a chore. And there is a lot of traversing. This works in Metroid games because it is empowering to come back later and squash the once-tough enemies. You never become that powerful in SPRay.
The crux of the game revolves around collecting crystals so you can revive the kingdom. Before you complete a level, you have to break a magical barrier by using the pointer to crudely draw a shape. Then, after collecting the revealed crystal, you teleport to the dungeon where the disembodied spirit of your father is hanging out, which is as far away from the later levels as you can get.
There are also multiplayer modes that pit up to four players against each other in four different games that involve the liquids. To be blunt, they are all very bad. The camera is zoomed out so it can show all four participants, and this makes it really easy to lose your character and/or your pointer in the shuffle. Like the main game, the multiplayer is focused on the one thing that each liquid can do and that's it. There is also a cooperative mode that unnecessarily separates the player's normal duties amongst two people, one controlling Ray and the other controlling the liquids. Cooperative play works in Super Mario Galaxy because it adds the second player as a sidekick. It doesn't work here because each player only plays half of the game.
With all its problems, SPRay is a pretty terrible game. The basics of the gameplay are promising, but it never becomes anything of substance. While the camera control is far and away the game's worst problem, it also suffers from lackluster puzzles, bland combat, and an awful overworld. SPRay has some nice ideas, but all it feels like is a terrible mixture of borrowed gameplay.