Good, clean fun comes at a cost.

Key art showing various characters and colorful foam that are the focus of the Foamstars video game.

Foamstars, the new party battle game from Square Enix, welcomes players with a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere that contrasts with the usual shooters on the market. The game's soundtrack, vibrant visuals, and unusually cheerful story all contribute to an upbeat energy that permeates throughout the game. The game is similar to Nintendo's Splatoon in how it invites players of all ages to partake in the fun, while also adding its own unique and fun elements. Foamstars is a game that doesn't take itself too seriously and invites players to have a sudsy good time.

Foamstars is primarily a game that places the titular foam and the "Foamstars" front and center. It is primarily a 4v4 third-person shooter where teams compete in various modes that include spins on capture the flag, team deathmatch, and king of the hill. The game also has solo missions that reveal the story behind the foam and allows you to get to know each of the characters. The game is not violent, as the foam only "chills" the opponents and makes them take a break. When foam isn't being used to chill a foe, it can be used to create ramps, or climbable structures to reach higher places, or it can be used to hide foam-filled traps from opposing players. You can even use foam to build up barriers to make it harder for the other team to get a good bead on you with their own arsenal.

The standout feature of the multiplayer options is 'Smash the Star,' a straightforward 4v4 match where teammates collaborate to challenge the rival squad. The primary objective is to eliminate the adversary's Star Player while safeguarding their own. Additionally, there's the 'Rubber Duck Party' mode, where teams vie for dominion over an enormous Rubber Duck. This mode is essentially a 'King of the Hill' variant, with the twist that the duck gradually advances toward the foe's goal, granting the duck controlling team a win if it reaches its destination.

Image of a big rubber duck DJ'ing in a Foamstars arena.

Unlike the other two main multiplayer modes, the 'Happy Bath Survival' mode places two players into an arena. This 1v1 duel features teammates out on the sidelines that can support their main combatant by building up foam passages and other unique support abilities. Those on the sidelines cannot directly chill enemy players in this game mode.

There are also a few special modes that rotate in to the mix every so often. First, there is the 'Happy FriYAY Party'. These special events show up just for a couple of days during a season. FriYAY events are where you can get an advance look at some upcoming content, namely new characters, that aren't yet officially released for Foamstars. The FriYAY events seem to happen every few weeks and tend to just last for a few days when they show up.

There is also an 'Extreme Party' mode. This one is a bit more difficult to describe given that the rules and gameplay conditions change every time. For instance, there are some Extreme Party events where players are forced to play as one specific character. Another Extreme Party might make every player invisible. This game mode seems to cycle in on those weekends when there isn't a FriYAY preview event taking place.

In these multiplayer focused game modes, things spiral into mayhem pretty fast. A sea of vision-obscuring foam engulfs the map in no time. Despite the hit to visibility, it is crucial to spread as much of your team's colored foam as you can. That way, you can hop on your Slideboard, a surfboard but for foam instead of water. The Slideboard allows you to utilize your team's spread of foam to quickly maneuver around the arena and possibly flank around the opposing team. Besides being used for rapid mobility, the Slideboard also allows you to knock out enemies that are balled up in your foam, or save your teammates if they are the ones all foamed up. However, as the environments can just get absolutely caked in foam, spotting those trapped in foam balls becomes a real test of your observation skills.

A character with long pink hair blasts colorful foam around.

To better acquaint yourself with Foamstar's eccentric cast of characters, there are some PvE game modes that you can partake in. Either go in alone or as a group of four to play through a series of story missions. Outside of trying out different characters in a customizable player Lounge hub, these solo missions are the only way to learn a character's abilities in a moderately controlled environment against actual enemies.

The PvE missions are also the best way to get a taste of each character's unique personality. There are brief cutscenes that give you a glimpse at some of the mostly saccharin-sweet attitudes for these Foamstars. You won't get much of these individual personalities showing in the competitive multiplayer modes as communication is restricted to family-friendly stickers and dance emotes.

These missions are ok, but really aren't anything super special or worth devoting a ton of your time towards. It seems obvious that the real highlight of Foamstars lies in the game's chaotic multiplayer modes, which is where I ended up spending the most of my time and where I had the most fun.

Both a highlight and a knock against Foamstars comes in its cosmetic options. You can customize everything from your character wardrobe, Slideboard design, weapon skins, nameplates, titles, social stickers, and emotes. You can even decorate your personal Lounge area however you see fit thanks to a rather large assortment of placeable items that you can freely add and arrange up until you hit a set object limit.

A lot of the cosmetic items, especially those related to customizing your character and their items, are either tucked away behind a Seasonal Pass or behind an additional paywall via the in-game storefront. Though some items can be freely unlocked just through the completion of missions and normal gameplay, a vast majority of them are locked behind some manner of paywall, be it the Season Pass in-game store. The thing is, some of those in-game store items and bundles are not cheap.

An image showing unlockable cosmetics and items in a Season Pass for Foamstars.

If Foamstars were a free-to-play title, I could make the argument that some of the lofty prices for cosmetics could be justified. The problem here is that Foamstars is not a free-to-play title. In its initial month of availability, you could only acquire the game through an active PlayStation Plus subscription. On March 5, Foamstars stopped being a PlayStation Plus offering when it officially released on March 5th for $29.99. You still need an active PlayStation Plus subscription to play Foamstars, so be sure to take that added cost into account as well.

The premium track of the Season Pass is at least reasonably priced at just $5.99. Though the plans are to rotate a new Season every five weeks, which would be another $5.99 purchase if you keep buying the Season Pass. Some cosmetic bundles are priced at about $11, which would also be fine in a bubble but these cosmetics regularly rotate out for new items and bundles. I do need to note that the game's most recent update (2.01) did add a free weekly offering to the in-game shop, which is quite nice to see.

Outside of the rather aggressive cosmetic microtransactions, Foamstars has issues when it comes to basic online matchmaking. First off, there is no way to automatically queue up for your next match. Once you finish a match, you load back into your Lounge. You then have to manually select the multiplayer option, select which game mode you want to play, and then it puts you in a queue to find a match. You need to do this every single time.

A character on a Slideboard, a surfboard but for traversing foam, zooming through a foamy battle.

The variability of queue times can be quite significant. Depending on what time of the day you decide to play Foamstars, you might experience a brief wait of just a few seconds or endure a longer wait lasting several minutes. With the release of Foamstar's Season 2, an update promised reduced queue times for matches. This update has indeed decreased the waiting period slightly, offering an improvement over the queue times observed in the inaugural season.

There were also a couple of instances in Season 1 where a player left the match right at the start. This popped up a message saying that the match will not be played, after which I was sent back to my lounge. I was then forced to once again manually requeue myself for a fresh match and hope someone didn't disconnect again. It seems bizarre to me that an entire match can just be negated by someone leaving. There is apparently no system to pull in another random player to fill the now vacant gap.

Foamstars, when functioning, presents a refreshing and lively twist on traditional competitive multiplayer experiences available in the market. It's bright and cheerful, offering a lively soundtrack, positive vibes, and good, clean fun. It is exceptionally family-friendly in numerous aspects, which I genuinely believe is wonderful and significantly contributes to Foamstar's appeal. It's just one of those games where you can't help but smile even in those moments where your team is losing. Nonetheless, the aggressive monetization strategies and baffling decisions regarding basic matchmaking detract from what could otherwise be a straightforward endorsement of the game.


Image shows 3 out of 5 stars on a system that uses whole numbers only.

Additional Information

  • Foamstars
    • Developed by: Toylogic
    • Published by: Square Enix
  • Price: Starting at $29.99 (USD)
  • Platform reviewed on: PlayStation 5 (Also available on PlayStation 4)
  • Release Date: February 6, 2024 via PlayStation Plus, March 5, 2024 as a standalone purchase
  • ESRB: N/A
  • This game was provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes.