Review: Ms. ‘Splosion Man
When you talk speed based platformers in 2D you think of Sonic and the way he ruled the 90’s. Sonic moved onto 3D for the most part and there’s been a constant string of contenders vying for the crown ever since.
Twisted Pixel Games tried their hand at it seeing very positive results with ‘Splosion Man, joining together speedy platforming with their over the top humor.
They’ve returned to franchise with Ms. ‘Splosion Man. A game that, for my money, is the gold standard of the genre.
Let’s start at the beginning though.
Ms. ‘Splosion Man takes place right after the end of ‘Splosion Man. Big Science is celebrating with an uproarious party when all of a sudden a mishap occurs and like Reese’s Peanut butter cups, Godzilla, and other accidents that made the world better, Ms. ‘Splosion Man is born.
Ms. ‘Splosion Man’s journey starts and it’s up to you to navigate her on her way. As I said in the intro, Ms. ‘Splosion Man is a speed based platformer where you’re constantly moving at a quick rate of speed hitting jumps and clearing obstacles. Ms. ‘Splosion Man’s “hook” is that she can explode up to three times. By having Ms. ‘Splosion Man explode you can perform elaborate jumps and maneuvers that really do help enhance the speed of the game.
You also destroy enemies by exploding next to them and turning them into piles of meat. Some baddies will simply need to have you explode next to them, others are trickier, they’ll block frontal attacks and will need to be attacked from the back. Some enemies will hide from you and you’ll need to solve a set of puzzles on the map to make it to them.
Ms. ‘Splosion Man’s exploding mechanic is the basis for everything you do in the game, the faster you master that component the easier it will be for you to progress.
It’s not all jumping in Ms. ‘Splosion Man though. You’ll be tasked with having to interact with a wide assortment of objects in the game to get you from point A to point B. You need to hit trampolines, catapults, exploding barrels and even flying cars and grind on midair rails to get across levels.
Like Reese’s Peanut butter cups, Godzilla, and other accidents that made the world better, Ms. ‘Splosion Man is born.
With all this going on chances are you’ll die here or there but thankfully Twisted Pixel has included a checkpoint system that works on the fly. As you play and progress in a level, the game will automatically save your progress so that when you do end up being electrocuted or plummeting to your death you start again not that far from that point instead of at the start or even the middle of the level. A game like Ms. ‘Splosion Man that requires precise gameplay has the chance to drive you crazy when you fail, the checkpoint system keeps you cool enough to want to keep playing and see what’s next.
For the people who aren’t great at a particular level you can offer to skip a part and be cursed. In ‘Splosion Man you could skip areas only to be forced to wear a pink tutu. They couldn’t put a pink tutu on Ms. ‘Splosion Man because she’d like it, instead her curse is something more body altering. I urge everyone to fail repeatedly on a level so you can see this take place. While her transformation is something it’s the music that plays that makes it complete.
The bosses in the game come in extra large and boss battles can be a lengthy ordeal. They play out in the “here’s my weak spot, try to hit it” style and they’re all well done. The boss fights might wear on some players because the frequent checkpoint system in the levels isn’t carried over into the boss battles, meaning some players may get frustrated beating all the stages of a boss in succession.
One of the biggest changes from ‘Splosion Man is that between levels you deal with an overworld map that lets you select certain levels. This is good because there are some levels that are tougher than others, Twisted Pixel puts those in red and you’ll see them as optional in most cases. You won’t need to beat all the hardest levels to beat the game but you will need to beat them to complete all the objectives in the game 100%.
That leads me to collectables. In ‘Splosion Man it’s all about the cake and I’m proud to say that I was able to snag each and every bit of cake on the way to the ending. In Ms. ‘Splosion Man the goal is shoes and their placement in levels isn’t any less devious.
There are also multiple ways to finish some levels. The people who want to explore every nook and cranny will be rewarded when it comes to shortcuts that will help cut down their overall time for each level.
Speed is the key in Ms. ‘Splosion Man because not only does it net you bonuses in the game but it also gets you on the leaderboards. What happens if you’re not that great and you’re trying to learn how to be faster? Then download a ghost of your own to see where you went wrong or download a ghost of a person with a blazing fast time to see how they were able to do everything so fast.
That’s just the single player portion of the game. Multiplayer in Ms. ‘Splosion Man is robust and full of features. You have the option to play with another player either online or locally with each of you being a different color Ms. ‘Splosion Man. The levels are completely different than the single player portion of the game so people who have played the solo version won’t feel that it’s the same song and dance they just finished.
There’s also an option for a mode called two girls one controller. In this mode you’ll see two different colors of Ms. ‘Splosion Man but you’ll have to control them both using one controller. It’s not for the faint of heart but there’s a certain amount of satisfaction when you’re able to beat a level with the equivalent of rubbing your stomach with one hand while patting the top of your head with another.
Ms. ‘Splosion Man for the PC offers keyboard and optional gamepad controls. The keyboard works fantastic with WASD or the arrow keys used for moving and space bar and Y for the exploding. That said, I would highly recommend that most people grab themselves a gamepad for this game, it’s just a game that feels better when played using a standard controller.
The game looks great and runs even better. Twisted Pixel Games had some help from Fire Hose Games when it came to bringing Ms. ‘Splosion Man over to the PC from the Xbox 360 and it runs flawlessly. In a game that’s built on speed and split second timing it’s imperative that the game runs without a hitch as it does here.
Ms. ‘Splosion Man shines in the sound and music departments. Chainsaw has put together an amazingly well thought out score for the game that matches the speed and tempo of the gameplay. Every single portion of the game has his unique stamp on it down to playing a jingle as you go through the menu options and the Donut Song playing in the menu backgrounds.
The sound is on the same level as the music. Ms. ‘Splosion Man throws out dozens of pop culture references as she makes her way through every level. Every notable female entertainer from Cyndi Lauper, to Paula Abdul to Beyoncé is sampled here. If you’ve been on the planet in the last 30 years you’ll instantly recognize a good portion of her sayings.
Why it may be helpful for people with anxiety
- Very funny
- Looks and plays great
- Great music
- Lighthearted and cheery
- Tons of checkpoints
- World map allows you to be taken at your own pace
- Ability to skip harder parts of the game for a penalty
Why it may be unhelpful for people with anxiety
- Split second platforming could be difficult while dealing with anxiety symptoms.
Why you should be playing this
Ms. ‘Splosion Man is exactly what a sequel should be. It’s bigger, it’s funnier, and it’s better. Across the board Ms. ‘Splosion Man is superior to ‘Splosion Man and holds the crown as the best 2D speed based platformer this generation.
The world map addition allowed Twisted Pixel to include harder levels for the advanced players while not making the game impossible for those who aren’t as well versed in the game. If someone wants to take the path of least resistance they can and if someone wants to take on every challenge that option is there too.
The flexibility in gameplay is also enhanced by the ability of the player to skip ahead after numerous failed sections and the ability to download ghosts of the best players to see how they were able to navigate tougher sections. Ms. ‘Splosion Man can be played multiple ways offering a substantial amount of gameplay no matter the ability of the player.
When you add those factors into a game that has a robust single player and multiplayer mode there’s no reason why anyone should pass on this game.
If you like platformers Ms. ‘Splosion Man is the cream of the crop.
This review was based on the PC version that was provided by the developer.
April 3rd, 2013
Twisted Pixel Games
Microsoft Games Studios
Incredibly funny, fast paced gameplay, looks terrific, huge boss battles, loads of content, scales to players of every skill
Different camera angles sometimes makes platforming difficult