FOAMSTARS Review – Lukewarm bathwater

Reviewed February 26, 2024 on PS5


PS4, PS5


February 6, 2024


Square Enix


Square Enix

In recent years, many 4v4 multiplayer arena shooters have been brought to us with varying levels of success. Some, like the crowd-favourite Splatoon series, survive the distance, but most don’t last long. Games such as Knockout City or the soon-to-be-laid-to-rest Rocket Arena are among many other online games that hit the ground running but fail to hook players in the long term. So of course, to chase the oversaturated trend, more are developed in the hopes of cracking the next microtransaction gold mine of online multiplayer games. 

FOAMSTARS is the latest in that pool, and while bright and bubbly much of it feels superficial which is sad considering the gameplay does scratch that arena game itch. Players take on other groups in 4v4 battles that revolve around either knocking out opponents or seizing a control point that happens to look like a massive duck. FOAMSTARS knows the assignment and is unashamed to lean into that bathtime aesthetic, although the neon lights are really more gamer PC. Like any good bath bomb though, the bubbles are just half the experience. FOAMSTARS aims to engage players with an eclectic roster of playable characters, each with their own skills and weapons.

Diving into FOAMSTARS, the game starts players off with a basic movement and combat tutorial before you’re shown how to knock people out or save teammates from being knocked out. It’s interesting to see how straightforward the game is. One might even think they were playing Splatoon if they squinted. Players have a foam weapon and a kit of 3 varying abilities depending on the character. Players are also able to switch between the different characters in the lobby area in the game and even test out their abilities in a small test arena space.

The game looks impressive, with a playable lobby area resembling the top floor of a skyscraper above Bath Vegas – yep, you read that right. It feels like it wants to impress you, though it’s not long before an array of menus including the shop, cosmetics section and various other input menus begin to confuse the player. Players can either load into an online game or complete PvE missions for characters from the roster. These missions feature wave-based combat, allowing players to learn a little lore about the participating hero. When competing online, all lobbies are 4v4 and the game modes are basically Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill (hill being a giant moving duck) and a hybrid survival mode where two fight and two assist them outside the arena against the opposing team.

“It’s an easy game to like when one puts the paid cosmetic content out of sight…”

When playing the various modes in FOAMSTARS, there is fun to be had. Character abilities are a joy to throw down on opponents, making combat a chaotic burst of foamy fun and hectic knockouts. Playing with friends also really adds to the experience. It’s an easy game to like when one puts the paid cosmetic content out of sight, though the enamour of a snazzy new skin for that character you love is hard to resist and they know this. Thankfully there is a battle pass that adds some new cosmetics for some of the characters but having to grind for the stuff makes the game feel more demanding than it should be.

It’s also worth noting that the gameplay with foam-to-foam combat feels considerably slower compared to Splatoon. Foam attacks feel somewhat mitigated with all the characters having varying kits with some including charge abilities. In the heat of battle, opponents getting too close to you is never a good thing but often it’s required if you’re going to have any hope of knocking them out. Foam also piles up in the arena, with opposing colours negating the other. Like Splatoon, players can travel quicker on the surfboard on their own colour and players can reload without needing to submerge. This is a very welcome difference.

What I did find tedious was the length of games feeling quite short. Often in Smash The Star, games would feel shorter than the queue time. It does feel as though the amount of knockouts needed to get the final player could be increased slightly just to mitigate the length of the game, especially for new players or players after more of a challenge and match length. Even in the custom mode, the maximum amount of knockouts before the star player is activated is capped at 7.

Considering FOAMSTARS trades in the familiar Splatoon paint for various hues of foam, one could be forgiven for finding that substance lackluster in-game. Players can quickly cover areas in piles of foam, though it lacks that bubbly aesthetic that one might expect. Up close, it’s a pastel hue that isn’t shiny or even bubbly. Once foam is blasted onto the area it simply dumps itself down on the ground. It is only when players move over or blast more that it wobbles, reacting to those inputs. Foam definitely is an interesting choice for projectile, and while it does the job I’d be remiss if I did wonder if it could been a little more iridescent. Considering the game’s penchant for the neon aesthetic a more bubbly foam would’ve felt less doughy and fun in the iconic level spaces.

“It’s not great to suddenly rubber band across the arena…”

Sadly, it seems as though it’s not quite as popular locally as it is in other regions. Australian servers have been rather quiet for anyone trying to queue up in the game in non-peak times. Considering it’s not been even a month post-launch, it’s worrying that it’s not at least attracting some players considering it was available through PlayStation Plus for free. After consistently having lobbies time out, I was advised to try the Japanese servers which gave an instant boost to active games though it was at the expense of ping. It’s not unplayable in this state, but as you can likely imagine in an online multiplayer game, it’s not great to suddenly rubber band across the arena or worse – get KO’d by the opposing team. Similarly, playing the ranked game mode suffers hard to your internet ping.

When one opens the store they are greeted with an array of cosmetics but upon further inspection it’s revealed that these will definitely cost you if you’re looking to personalise your characters at all. With prices soaring above $50 for many skin bundles, it’s sadly a choice that further adds to the sentiment that any long-term time investment in this game will be costly. The game does position itself as a live service experience, with a battle pass loaded with 40 tiers of cosmetics so there will be content available for players putting the time into it but considering the state of local servers this could be easier said than done. 

For all the time spent playing FOAMSTARS, I found it seemed to lead to bouts of longing to play Splatoon again. While it does capitalise on the use of foam over ink, having played the latter at all impacts how one can approach this arena multiplayer game in particular. I’d need FOAMSTARS to work on its playability and gameplay modes that continue to invest in the foam mechanics over archetypal reskins of other game modes. When considering how combat plays out, the foam mechanic does float but how much can it really succeed when genre competition has already written the rule book?

If you’re after a new multiplayer game to play with friends, this will likely be a fad for a few days before you’re onto the next thing. As I’ve stated, there is a good time to be had here but it never quite hits that meter of player enjoyment. Dopamine sinks when players are queueing for long periods in between shorter games no matter how many times you bust your ultimate on the unsuspecting arena of opponents.




  • Foam feels fun in combat with unique characters and varying play styles
  • Game modes are safe hits in the genre that work well with the foam mechanics
  • Great to play with friends looking for something fresh in-between other games


  • Some games feel shorter than the queue time
  • Local servers are dying already
  • Game store and cosmetics feel very expensive
  • Foam doesn’t pop as hard as it should against the neon RGB Vegas aesthetic

FOAMSTARS knows what it’s doing following the Splatoon blueprint, but it’s an easy pop that values its in-game economy more than fostering a community during the teething period of its release. I worry for the future of this one in the live service vacuum. While there are aspects that feel fun, this game still needs to prove itself in the market which is no easy feat. Locally, this is a tall ask but with server numbers untenable it really may be the writing on the bathroom wall for such a new multiplayer game – bubbles not included.