Review: Marshmellow Day Spa
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I’m not sure what exactly I would aspire to if I were a marshmallow, but soaking in a rich mug of hot cocoa sounds like a good start. That’s the kind of joy I would want to bring to the world, and now you can do just that in Marshmellow Day Spa. Composed in just three days as part of the Winter Jam 2019, this little third-person platformer lets you scoot around a festive spa as a helpful marshmallow, preparing luxurious chocolate baths for your fellow ‘mallows. While understandably limited in scope, it’s still an easy game to get lost in as you rush to beat the clock and dunk just one more of your friends into the cocoa mug of their dreams.
Marshmellow Day Spa places you in a rustic bathhouse, sporting four tubs and three adjoining rooms containing supplies you’ll need for your delectable work. The tubs are color-coded and each has a ‘mallow buddy waiting for you to prepare their bath, and the requirements for each are displayed at the bottom of the screen. You always need to go through them in order: first heat the water, then add the right chocolate (yes you can do dark or white cocoa, live a little!), add the right milk, and then add a topping like cream or gingerbread if requested. Once the bath is ready the bell next to the tub turns gold, and you ring it to signal your buddy to take the plunge and score you some points. You can ring the bell for incomplete baths as well, but obviously the more conditions you satisfy the more points you’ll get.
You’ve got a scant three minutes to rack up as many points as possible, which leaves a lot for one little marshmallow to do. Tooling around in third-person view, you can carry one object like chocolate or milk at a time so you’ll be making a lot of repeat trips. The kitchen and garden are easy enough to navigate but the milk is stashed away on the other side of a bottomless pit, requiring you to ditch OSHA concerns and ride floating platforms across for each jar. It also took me some time to locate the cream and gingerbread, high up in the kitchen and requiring some platforming to reach. After a few runs, though, I was getting pretty close to completing a full round and a half of marshmallow baths.
As a game jam game there are understandable rough spots, like the background music not lasting the full three minutes and interactions being touchy and limited. But the presentation does a lot to push such concerns from your mind, with soft shapes and colors forming your adorable workspace. There’s more than a little of the bathhouse from Spirited Away in the design here which gives the game a terribly inviting feel, and despite their limited animations I absolutely love the little ‘mallow people. This is precisely the kind of game I desperately want to see expanded into a full title, perhaps a hot cocoa day spa management sim or a third-person platformer through a land of desserts. But even if this is just a one-off project it absolutely deserves your attention, because it can put a bigger smile on your face than even a real mug of cocoa can.