Splosion Man Review

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'Splosion Man Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Twisted Pixel

Platform: Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

Big Science is busy making the world a better place... or, at least, a place where research doesn't need to follow the constraints of ethics or practicality. To that end, they'd love it if you have any spare animals lying around that they could borrow. You probably won't get Spot or Miss Tabatha back, but it's all in the name of... science! Look! – Big Science even converted a man so that he's made entirely of combustible material. He looks happy... and a little crazy... and more than a bit angry. Plus, I hear he likes cake.

Kyle Ackerman

'Splosion ManSitting down with the controller and Splosion Man feels like I'm playing a classic platformer, and I don't mean that in a good way. Back when the SNES was the main platform, developers relied on excessive difficulty and "Gotcha!" moments as a crutch to extend the length of games when the system simply couldn't handle much in the way of data. A select, few, hardcore gamers embraced that while the average gamer simply shrugged and moved on to something else. Splosion Man is that hardcore platformer, dragged into the modern age, and meant for the select few who want to demonstrate not only how well they can time poor Splosion Man's detonations, but complete speed runs faster than your average bear just to rub it in.

'Splosion ManThere's a lot to enjoy about Splosion Man, but the need for split-second timing rather than careful thought meant that many levels were more frustrating than fun, and it doesn't feel any better to be offered "The Way of the Coward" – a chance to skip a level because I died so very many times. Given that I didn't end up enjoying the actual game much, I'm amazed how much I loved the trappings. The graphics are simple, but evocative. Splosion Man's animations are superb – his enthusiasm (crossing over into insanity) is endearing and his movements vividly illustrate that state. Best of all, the various puzzles' silly solutions are accompanied by equally silly touches. Obese, donut-wielding researchers are so bouncy that they repel bullets – use one as a human shield and the driven soundtrack suddenly changes to an acoustic rendition of "Everybody loves donuts." Even the bosses are comical.

'Splosion ManThe clever core of Splosion Man is that a jump and an explosion are one and the same. Splosion Man detonates to leap, but also detonates to 'splode barrels, evil scientists, laboratory defenses and research equipment, thereby solving the platforming puzzles. He only gets three explosions before he has to heat back up, but speed, precise timing and practice are usually enough to help him get past (or blow up into tiny bits) any obstacle. It's a clever gimmick, and particularly satisfying when you careen through glass walled laboratories, smashing everything into shards. It doesn't transform play into something new, but it is a really satisfying way to jump. When I was progressing, it made things a lot of fun. When I was trying to precisely time a serious of explosions near barrels of chemical goo while flying above an abyss at great speed, it was merely a distraction.

Splosion Man is full of style, but a trailer or demo will be as good as the game unless you want a quality, challenging platformer with old-school difficulty (there's even an hardcore mode for masochistic gamers). If you're looking for a challenge in adorable trappings, this is it.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on May 2, 2011 9:00 AM.

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