Splosion Man Xbox 360 Review
Ever since virtual 3D worlds came about, the side scroller may have been put aside by some developers, although fortunately such games aren’t completely extinct, and there’s no reason to think that they’re no longer relevent, particularly with a fair few appearing for digital download. The wonderfully zany Splosion Man is one such game.
The eponymous Splosion Man is a rather bizarre design, looking far too hot to even think about touching and certainly being up there with the most mobile of platform stars. He’s also rather loopy as well: making ridiculous noises, waving his arms childishly, running around like a chimp at times and scaring the lab scientists, leaving them cowering beside a wall or causing them to meet an often nasty demise.
The character himself is certainly likeable enough, though it wouldn’t be much good if the lead was much superior to the game he stars in, and fortunately this isn’t the case: Splosion Man the game is very much on a par with Splosion Man the character, and said game is, thanks to the exploding and charismatic hero, certainly a fast and exhilarating run through.
While an explosion may kill or injure you in other games, Splosion Man is a character that very much relies on blowing himself up to get around the 50 levels of the campaign. The familiar wall hike ability has the character exploding from wall to wall, whilst extra height can also be gained from exploding next to an explosive barrel. Splosion Man can explode up to three times in a single jump – losing some of his luminous orange glow following each explosion, and then he must be given a little rest in order to recharge his abilities.
Indeed, if you haven’t already played the game, Splosion Man is a piece of interactive entertainment that looks thoroughly entertaining in motion (with great exploding animations and a likeable art style) and, in writing, generally sounds as if it’s as much fun as playing with a cute and mischievous puppy. And the level design is so well thought out on the whole that swiftly getting around each one was some of the most enjoyment I’ve ever experienced in a platform game, thus it is just as entertaining as it looks and just as much fun as it sounds.
There are moments when barrels are set up to explode and jump between, moving platforms to walk and leap across, rising water to hastily get away from, electrical currents to avoid, chase sequences involving giant robots, small puzzles to solve and more. It’s one of those games that I can quite easily say never has a dull moment, nor do you get much pause for breath when Splosion Man is bouncing off walls, exploding next to barrels and cart wheeling through the air.
It may sound it and indeed it does, it becomes pretty frustrating at times and due to its speed, the game is often an exercise in trial and error with some occasionally poorly spaced checkpoints. But it’s such a joy to play that I never felt as if true defeat was an option, I always wanted to return to its explosive charms and hopefully improve where I had previously gone wrong. There’s also an option that allows you to run away from repeated failure, thus levels can be skipped and you can then move on to the next stage if you’re having a really tough time making any progress.
Sadly, Splosion Man (the game) has a rather sizeable problem that is constantly staring back at you in the face: repetitive backdrops. I already mentioned that the level design is generally extremely well thought out, though the repeated use of lab environments, that only really alter slightly every now and again, is a real shame. But, in no way did it seriously do any harm to the amount of fun I had with the game, and that’s surely the most important thing. It’s still disappointing that Twisted Pixel couldn’t have given the game more variety in its stages, this being its biggest and most glaring fault.
Fifty levels may sound a lot, although most are pretty compact. The game may seem a lot longer for some due to the frustration, particularly if you are a player who’d rather not give in and skip a trying level. For those who want to get as much out of the game as possible, there are cakes to be found in each level and a time trial mode will delight those who enjoy speed runs. There’s also a multiplayer mode with its own 50 unique levels, which can be played locally or online, it encourages teamwork and, with support for up to four players, it can get pretty chaotic at times. Splosion Man is extremely entertaining with one or more players joining you, and, since the patch came along, much of the reported online lag has also been eradicated, making for a very worthwhile multiplayer game.
Twisted Pixel’s game is an absolute joy, a highlight of Xbox Live Arcade and clear evidence that the 2D plane should never have to die. 800 Microsoft Points will buy you plenty of explosive fun; though just don’t expect a great deal of variety, particularly in its regularly repeated environments.