At first glance, Spare Parts is rather charming. Its cartoonish aesthetic makes for a bright and colourful world; there are plenty of collectables to aim for, with the voice of Simon Pegg chiming in when one is picked up; and the setting is nicely quirky.
Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for that charm to wear thin.
The gimmick of the game, as the name implies, is that your characters are able to collect "Action Parts” throughout the game, using them in combat and also to advance through the levels. Being able to equip super strength, x-ray vision, electromagnetic feet and several other abilities sounds great at first, but in reality they are almost completely useless outside of a few clearly designated points. This usually comes in the form of a boulder blocking the next area of the level, or the occasional magnetic wall.
The combat is nothing more than padding. Spare Parts wastes no time in throwing hordes of enemies at you, which respawn nearly immediately. While most enemies do have a weakness to specific attacks, it is almost always more effective to just hammer the basic attack button; combat in Spare Parts is little more than button mashing. Parts like super strength and EMP stomping are laughably ineffective in the face of these swarms, making them feel like a complete waste of time, and a missed opportunity.
Like the combat, the level design is also irritating; the game makes frequent use of nonsensically-placed invisible walls, and obstacles that can only be passed with parts collected later in the game. This leads to a lot of backtracking, and being forced along specific paths for no apparent reason. The co-op camera controls are also hideous, leading to more fighting over the camera angle than with the actual enemies.
If the game does something well, however, it is the large variety of collectables scattered throughout the game, and the numerous optional areas to explore. Visually, Spare Parts is nice, if nothing spectacular. The platforming controls are also fairly tight, at least when the co-op camera isn't interfering.
Spare Parts is a disappointing game. Its colourful and quirky setting is attractive, but poor gameplay results in a frustrating experience. The concept of using various parts to solve problems in a platformer is great, but unfortunately we're left with a mediocre game packed with unfulfilled potential.