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Jul 21, 2011

Ms. Splosion Man Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $9.99
We Recommend: $7.99
  • Developer: Twisted Pixel Games
  • Publisher: Microsoft Studios
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Released: Jul 13, 2011
  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Reviewed: Xbox 360

Splosion Man has finally been captured, and now Big Science is celebrating. But amongst the joy, an accident occurred, inadvertently creating a female version of the man who loves to splode. Ms Splosion Man starts off with her escape from the labs as she explores Big Science City. There’s little to no tutorial here, forcing you to learn as you go if you’re not familiar with the controls from the prior game.

I wouldn’t say the difficulty that Splosion Man ended on, picks up here – but is certainly demanding from the get-go that may put off some players. Comparisons can be made with these games and Super Meat Boy, but they are different. Super Meat Boy is a really fast and precise platformer, that both do want fast times and demand a lot. But Splosion Man games are more strategic than Super Meat Boy.

Now as in the 2009 prior game, you move with the left stick and splode with any of the face buttons. This 2011 sequel is no different. Now, a Splode is an all-encompassing move where you can jump, attack, and ricochet off of things. It is activated by any button press: A, X, B, or Y. Splosion Men…Mans….People (?) can only splode 3 times before their energy is depleted or renewed by some sort of device, panel, or barrel. Energy can also be restored by standing still for a few seconds.

What makes this game stick out is not the bow, her pink color, or her high voice – it’s a mixture of environments and multi-tiered boss battles. As with the first game, there are 3 areas to completion. Now with more distinctive differences. While the overall theme is underground laboratories, you are now jumping (I’m stopping the use of “splode” for a bit) from car to car in the city or in a tropical island.

A few of the new tools laid out have you using trampolines and cannonball-like transport. Ms Splosion Man will also jump into the body of an overweight scientist named Mandi and can be used to absorb laser blasts to take Ms Splosion Man through otherwise impossible situations.

Ms Splosion Man talks, a lot. Spouting references to En Vogue and other 90s music, movies, and tv shows as a girl from the valley of California. My complaints are few, but the voicework tends to be repetitive, though still mostly funny and worth not turning down the volume for (even one of the loading screen tool tips makes that suggestion). Her movement doesn’t seem as fast as her predecessor, and some of the animations don’t match the need of the speed required when running.

The game continues to run on the Beard engine and is starting to show it’s age. This engine has powered: The Maw, Splosion Man, and Comic Jumper. Now the load times are twice that of the original game, but with more colorful and varied environments, is expected. Though I found myself missing jumps not due to lack of skill or timing, but losing my position on screen with all the mayhem.

The humor is pretty great in this game, with the voice work, loading tips or meat facts. The laughs keep coming. The chuckles carry over into the unlockables such as videos, artwork, avatar items, themes and music. Unlocking these items is fairly simple as you earn currency for completing levels and bonus currency for beating the par times. This alone guarantees repeat playthroughs on Hardcore, or replaying levels for better times and more currency.

The Single-player portion of the game is completely different from the Multi-player. You can go online or offline and do co-op and play with friends or strangers. Each level has a secret pair of shoes for her to find, and will wear them until the end of the level – neat little thing I noticed. Splosion Mans vice was cakes. Both in SP and MP you’ll find shoes to collect to earn towards the achievement.

All in all, if you enjoyed Splosion Man and are dying for more, at a cool $10, this will whet your appetite. If you’ve never played the prior game, the barrier for entry is a bit high, but the humor should carry you through.

An XBLA code for the game was provided by Twisted Pixel for Review purposes