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Best of it's genre

Review: ‘Splosion Man

by April 23, 2012

After the success of the Maw the folks at Twisted Pixel decided to go in a different direction, what we got was a platformer that’s so crisp and tight that this title could stem an ongoing franchise in the genre. Before we get to what could become of this title let’s start at the beginning.

Strange things happen at secret scientific laboratories. Sometimes the result is silly putty, sometimes it’s Nutrasweet, and in this case it’s adorable creatures that want to run around and explode while they look for cake.

‘Splosion Man starts in a lab where a few things go off kilter and viola! ‘Splosion Man is born!

Awww, He’s excited to see you!

The game plays like a traditional 2D sidescroller. For anyone not familiar with the genre your character starts on one side and needs to go across the map to the other side. What makes ‘Splosion Man such a great example of the genre is how well the levels are designed and how tight the controls are. The levels grow in difficulty but they’re fair because you have the controls needed to navigate every single obstacle in your way. You’re going to die a lot on your way to finishing the game but you know that when you die it’s on you, when you get better you’ll do better. It’s not one of those cases where the controls take some getting used to or they aren’t as responsive as needed for this kind of gameplay.

…while dignity is fleeting, death is forever.

If by some chance you aren’t able to complete the higher levels that’s ok too, Twisted Pixel thought of that and has offered their way to help you out. When you’re unable to complete a level after a number of tries you will have the option to advance to the next stage with the penalty of having to wear a pink tutu on the next level. It’s a fair trade really, because while dignity is fleeting, death is forever.

For the players that master the game and want the added challenge there’s cake to be found on every level, sometimes it’s in plain sight and sometimes you have to work to find it but it adds a special achievement.                  

The last thing to bring up when talking about the overall design of the game is the the speed factor. The faster you complete the levels the higher you’ll rank on the leaderboards. While it’s not a compliment to be compared to Sonic the Hedgehog these days I can’t help but be reminded of the Genesis/Megadrive Sonic that defined 2D speed platformers. I feel that ‘Splosion Man is this generation’s speed platformer.

The humor in the game is fantastic and it looks like Twisted Pixel is finding their footing when it comes to providing humor in games, when ‘Splosion Man explodes around a scientist you just see a shower of assorted meat parts. It’s a really clever way to demonstrate the force of the explosion without having to turn to gore. Along the way you’ll run into a multitude of different scientists that you need to explode, but there’s a certain scientist that you’ll find, pick him up and then the fun begins….

Matt (Chainsaw) Chaney does all the music for Twisted Pixel and this is the title that launched him into the stratosphere when it comes to game music. The Donut Song is a fun, catchy song that will stay in your head and have you looking for the certain scientist just to start the song again. While all of the music in the game is fantastic and meshes with the pace of the game the Donut Song is THE track from this setlist.

The sound in the game pairs with the music well, everything from the full bodied sounds of the explosions to the funny quips coming out of ‘Splosion Man’s mouth. He’s a loud character that will make sound effects for his running and scream out “GET TO THE CHOPPAH!” just for the heck of it. ‘Splosion Man’s quirky and frantic dialogue caps off what is just perfection from the audio.

‘SPLODE AGAIN!

When players finish the single player campaign they can go online and try to finish a whole new set of stages in multiplayer. Online you’ll be playing in pairs with each player a ‘Splosion Man. The point is to finish the level with each other’s help and while this is tricky enough with another person in the room, it’s like herding cats online with a stranger. If you plan on tackling the online portion of this game online make sure you have a friend and you have a way to talk to each other.

 

COULD BE HELPFUL WITH ANXIETY BECAUSE

  • Funny upbeat gameplay
  • Great soundtrack with songs worth concentrating on
  • Tight gameplay means you could get lost in trying to do it perfectly
  • Level size is perfect for “just one more level” gameplay

COULD BE UNHELPFUL WITH ANXIETY BECAUSE

  • Cold/numb hands could make precision gameplay impossible (though you have the option to advance through levels you can’t complete)

WHY YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING THIS
I knew the second I started playing The Maw that Twisted Pixel was a quality company and ‘Splosion Man confirms that they’re far from a one hit wonder. The addictive level design, masterful sound work, and downright hilarious gameplay makes this a game I cannot recommend highly enough for anyone to play. The gameplay is quick and exact and people with anxiety will hopefully find themselves trying to focus on navigating the levels rather then their symptoms.

This review was based on the Xbox 360 version that was provided by the reviewer.

Overview
Release Date

Jul 22, 2009

Digital or Retail

Digital

Platform

XBOX 360

Developer

Twisted Pixel

Publisher

Microsoft Studios

Badges
AwardsBest of it's genreConsistently good games from developer
Positives

Tight Controls, balanced level design, fantastic music

Negatives

Multiplayer online can be overly difficult

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8.0
Gameplay
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Story
7.0
Sound
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