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XBLA mini review<br /> Splosion Man, leap of faith or death?

7.5

Great
Difficulty:
Hard
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Highly addictive"

Summary

Splosion Man is a 2.5D platformer made by Twisted Pixel, where you play a Splosion Man trying to escape science lab by Sploding your way through 50 levels.

The story in this game is not what you play the game for as it takes a backseat in the game. You play a man that has been experimented on which gives you exploding abilities which he use to escape 3 different labs.

The graphics in this game are great whilst hard to explain. They are polished and have a sort of 3d cartoonyish designs. The characters are in odd proportions and explode into hunks of meat, which give a feel of being part of a kids show, and is a really good effect. Everything looks polished in the environment apart from the backgrounds which are repetitive and unpolished.

The game play is addictive but simple. To navigate the areas you need to jump whilst Sploding, per jump you lose part of your powers, you can do a maximum of a triple jump. When you lose part of your splosion powers you need to land for a second to recharge, its as easy as that. WRONG!! Whilst the mechanic is simple and responsive, the game constantly is chucking new obstacles into the mix constantly, which makes the game progressively get harder. Obstacles include elements you shouldn't land in, robots, electric beams and more. As the stages get harder, you get a mix of hard and addictive levels and clustered, stressful stages. Luckily most of the time the stages you will want to revisit as you have hidden cakes to find and completion times to improve, which is addictive because you have to perfect your skills to get your place on the leader boards. However, there are levels that become so clustered that they become so stressful, especially bosses where its not that they are hard its that they become too much at once for so long to survive. Luckily in the events of this happening you have a mechanic called 'Way of the coward', this will allow you to skip near impossible levels, but the penalty is so high for using this it will screw up your overall time for the lab your in and will be mocked by having to wear a dress on the next stage.

The CO-OP for this game has the same feeling of the single player, however with 4 players on screen at once it can get just a little bit to hectic, but that is what the game is about, so if you can cope this is a great feature.

ENJOYMENT - With the odd stage that you will hate with a vengeance, the game ends up to be a crazy, inventive and charming. Which leaves you with an addictive experience which feels rewarding, and rewards you well with avatar items, themes and more.

OVERALL - 7.5 A great package with lots of content, very rewarding and well worth the 800 points. Can't wait to see what Twisted Pixel does in the future.

STORY - 7 Its there but not there
GRAPHICS - 8 Polished interesting designs, but backgrounds lack interest
GAME PLAY - 8.5 Simple but gets far to clustered at points
CO-OP - 8 Everything single player is, just with friends.





Trial and Terror

5.0

Mediocre
Difficulty:
Very Hard
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Overrated"

Summary

-- Good mechanic

The main platforming part of 'Splosion Man works really great. The triple-jump invites speedy action where wall-jumps, triggering explosions and juggling yourself between platforms is part of the great fun the game delivers. With a large dash of black humour in the mix, things start off very well.

-- Poor design

While the levels are imaginary and plenty, they demand way too much trial and error, and soon the entertainment turns to frustration. There are several checkpoints to a level, but they are placed horribly, making you replay the easier, slower and growingly tedious parts over and over again before getting another retry at that last hurdle. Frustration grows further as too many deaths are due of the game's fault and not your own, either by level design that's impossible to complete on the first try or by controls that aren't as tight as they need to be.

I do welcome a challenge and platform games should include hardcore parts, demanding near flawless execution, but when finally reaching your goal only leads to a sense of relief and no reward, something is dead wrong.

-- Pros & Cons

+ Triple-jump mechanic allows good platforming fun
- Constant trial and error spoils the fun
- Bad level design leads to many cheap deaths




Meet 'Splosion Man and watch him 'splode the meat out of everyone.

8.0

Superb
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Worth playing"

Summary

'Splosion Man might possibly be the loudest platforming protagonist in the history of platformers. Just imagine for a second if you will that in order to jump, you have to detonate yourself. To double, triple and wall jump, again you'd have to explode yourself. Well, that's what 'Splosion Man does. He blows himself up to get where he's going.

So who exactly is 'Splosion Man? Well, he's a product of a scientific experiment, and like all self-aware scientific experiments, he wants to escape from the lab and kill as many scientists as he can on the way out. It won't be such an easy task, though, because the eggheads have all sorts of traps lined up for our unstable hero. 'Splosion Man will have to do his best to avoid their obstacles, because he needs to be free. After all, you can't possibly hope to contain so much energy in just one lab.

'Splosion Man is a platformer that takes place across three main worlds comprised of roughly 16 levels a piece, with the final level being a boss battle. Gameplay involves 'Splosion Man jumping from platform to platform by exploding himself up to three times. After the third time, he becomes vulnerable to enemy fire and will disintegrate. His explosive particles will regenerate after a second while on the ground and a few seconds longer while sliding down a wall.

Sometimes blowing himself up isn't enough force to get him to cross great distances or gain new heights. Explosive barrels are littered everywhere to give 'Splosion Man an extra boost, and there will be several opportunities throughout the game that will require him to chain his jumps with these barrels before he even sets foot on the ground again. Some levels will be pretty straightforward, merely jumping about looking for ways to open doors, while other levels will be of the 'push along' variety, forcing 'Splosion Man to stay ahead of a giant robot in pursuit, or above rising flood waters.

Along the way, you can let loose your revenge on the poor hapless scientists by blowing them up. You can then revel in your rampage as the carcasses are rendered to a pill of assorted meats. You can also destroy their tables, work areas, monitors and rec rooms. All this wanton destruction and slaughter adds to your point total at the end of the level. To boost your score even further, there's a hidden cake in each one of the game's levels. Some of the cakes require merely an observant eye, while others will call on your heightened reflexes to collect it. If you manage to get it, you'll be treated to a warm animation of 'Splosion Man hugging his new found pastry to pieces. Lastly, every level has a par completion time and a leaderboard, so this encourages replayability if you're the competitive type.

The level design is pretty fantastic, presenting the gamer with a variety of decent platforming challenges. It is, however, not impervious from imperfections. Sometimes the difficulty curve spikes and you're stuck at one particular period in a level where you just can't get the timing down. These moments of the game afford you with zero margin of error, but it is thrilling when you finally nail it. The other flaw resides in the sometimes irksome camera angles the game will shift to. You'll be merrily running about and suddenly, the camera will swing to one side, showing you a more dynamic view of the level but compromising your perception as well. It doesn't prevent you from passing a level, but it is enough to cost you a few lives.

As fun as the gameplay is, it's the humor of the game that really puts its best foot forward. The character of 'Splosion Man himself is hysterical. He has great animations, speaks a lot of gibberish as he's running around, and even utters some pop culture references. For instance, after killing a scientist, he might say "I'm done with you professionally", a rib to the hotheaded Christian Bale. One of the funniest moments in the game is when you pick up the fat donut eating scientist and the original song Nuts for Donuts plays. After you finish using him as a human shield, you can then 'splode him to pieces.

'Splosion Man is a great looking Xbox Live Arcade title. The animations and special effects are its greatest strength. Everything movies fluidly, and those animations help establish the game's character and personality. It has such a excellent cartoon-like quality to it. The great usage of lighting for the character also helps convey just what kind of state 'Splosion Man is in. The environments are built well, but there are some rare instances where an occasional glitch might cause a bit of unintentional slow motion.

The audio is also just as wonderful as the visuals. Since the game's called 'Splosion Man, the explosions need to sound great, and they do. What's more is that while 'Splosion Man's exploding, it adds of layer of guitar strums to the game's music. Other sound effects such as 'Splosion Man kicking a weapon back to a robot or shattering through glass do a great job of further delivering that cartoon feel. The music is nice, but it would have benefited from a few more pieces, as it gets repetitive after a while. The original songs are terrific, though, and are very funny. The voice acting is also hilarious, making you chuckle several times.

Twisted Pixel has established themselves as a solid developer for XBLA. All their games thus far have delivered wonderful content, loaded with humor and exciting gameplay, and 'Splosion Man is no exception. If you want a fun, challenging and hilarious platformer, 'Splosion Man will fit the bill. It's only really flawed by a few incredibly frustrating moments, and a camera system that takes some adjusting to. Boss fights also could have used a checkpoint or two, as they can prove to be arduous affairs if you keep dying over and over again. With that said, at least try the demo of 'Splosive Man. You'll most likely end up buying it after that.




'Splosion Man is frustratingly tough at times, but its wacky humor and clever design will keep you coming back for more.

8.0

Superb
Difficulty:
Hard
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Just plain fun"

Summary

In the world of video games, science isn't revered: it's perverted. With each new scientific development in video games comes some way to completely screw it up. But while some are cleaning up the mess that a scientific breakthrough creates, others are enjoying the party. It seems that the world of scientific research has once again gone awry, this time on Xbox Live Arcade. From the aptly titled Twisted Pixel development house comes 'Splosion Man, a time-bomb with a seriously low attention span, and he finds his perks in detonating himself as much as possible, causing chaos and madness in the Big Science laboratory. Making his appearance in his self-titled downloadable debut, this molten maniac is out to turn scientists into packaged meat and escape the world of Big Science. 'Splosion Man's trial-and-error gameplay won't be everyone's cup of tea, but plenty of humor and some challenging, but fluid design choices make this XBLA title worth picking up.

'Splosion Man has a very unique control setup where jumping and attacking is mapped to the same command: 'sploding. Using any of the face buttons, the combustible character detonates, which allows the guy to jump or deliver the 'sploding to enemies, environmental objects, or items. The trick is that 'Splosion Man can only 'splode three times in sequence before having to recharge his 'sploding energy. What that gives the player is a solid triple jump. In addition to the simple jumping mechanics, 'Splosion Man can wall-jump up corridors easily. Other environmental objects change the 'sploding dynamics well, like steam, which makes the hero unable to 'splode, or fire pipes, which lets him 'splode more in sequence. The environments also show off plenty of dangers as well. The hyperactive hero will encounter rising tides of water or acid, powerful security robots, and laser turrets built to recapture 'Splosion Man. Each of these hazards has its own tricks to avoiding or destroying, and many of them demand some quick thinking to overcome.

Actually, "quick thinking" is an understatement. 'Splosion Man is a very fast-paced game, but not so much in the character's speed or control. It's more in the game's intense demand for quick reflexes. Different obstacles appear extremely quickly and require quick thinking and pitch-perfect 'sploding. You may be wandering into a room and the walls randomly start closing or the pool of water below starts rising. Completing a stage first try is a feat in and of itself, so don't expect to finish every stage without a bit of area memorization and trial-and-error. By the end of the game, every second counts and the difficulty skyrockets to insane levels. This will turn off some gamers who like to be a bit more analytical and precise in their puzzle platformers, but 'Splosion Man's refreshing pace does make it feel new and interesting. On the whole, however, what Twisted Pixel has constructed in 'Splosion Man's abilities is remarkable: an extremely accessible control scheme that works with the deep and creative level construction. The fast pace is a unique shift from the more traditional platformers, and even after a considerable amount of deaths by acid, water, or robot attack, you'll keep playing if only to see what crazy trap the scientists devise next.

Though it only has fifty stages spread throughout three levels (with a boss at the end of each level), 'Splosion Man has plenty to do in between. Speed runs are critical to the replay value and contribute to the point count at the end of each stage. Leaderboards are available for those looking for a community challenge and hidden cakes are scattered across the levels for bonus points. For those looking for 'sploding with friends, the multiplayer in 'Splosion Man is cooperative for up to four 'Splosion Men. Being able to detonate your hero off another player's detonation, the co-op campaign (which is an additional fifty levels) demands absolutely precise coordination. That being said, it's best to stick with friends during the co-op campaign, because in a game with this much demand for precision, teaming up with a random player online will just lead to trouble. As far as content goes, 'Splosion Man isn't the most comprehensive of XBLA titles, but the amount of replay value is respectable for the 800 Microsoft Points asking price.

'Splosion Man's aesthetic of a hazardous laboratory riddled with traps and dangerous obstacles is wacky on its own, but the game's sense of humor truly lies in its extremely well-crafted protagonist. 'Splosion Man is a riot to control. Simply letting the manic hero run around and listening to his airplane noises is funny every time. The few cutscenes showcase the protagonist's crazy attitude and playful character, even when avoiding the dangers of the Big Science laboratory. The scientists who aim to re-capture 'Splosion Man are panicky upon the hero's approach. The fact that the hero's explosions cause the scientists to disintegrate into piles of packaged meat is unexplainable, but always entertaining. The quirky moments such as when 'Splosion Man picks up an overweight scientist (where an odd background tune about donuts starts playing) to block incoming fire all feel appropriate in 'Splosion Man's world. Humorous parodies of films and Twisted Pixel's near-obsession with Portal all come together to create a game that wants you to laugh at every opportunity, and there's a very good chance it will.

Aside from 'Splosion Man himself and his crew of wacky scientist antagonists, Twisted Pixel's downloadable platformer really isn't too keen on aesthetic diversity. Though there do exist occasional glimpses of unique cosmetic design in the stages, the constant grey walls, pools of acid, and metal doors do tend to run a bit dry after a while. The sound design suffers from this the most and the repetitive level themes aren't as catchy as other platformers'. There are some bonus songs included, though, many of which make up for the level themes' quality with pure ridiculousness. The voice acting is mostly composed of 'Splosion Man's manic one-liners and excited babbling. Sonny Strait (best known as Krillin in Dragon Ball Z) really pulls it off well, stepping into a wackier light than the many serious roles he's played in the past decade. 'Splosion Man gets by with a constantly humorous tone, but it could've been a bit more daring in its presentation, both graphically and for sound.

Pros
+ Ridiculous humor and a likeably wacky main character
+ Great amount of diversely constructed stages
+ Challenging gameplay demands sharp reflexes

Cons
- Cooperative gameplay requires pinpoint coordination
- Not much variety in the aesthetic department
- Trial-and-error gameplay won't please everyone

XBLA has found a brand new video game star in its library. 'Splosion Man's mechanics are some of the easiest to jump into, but also the deepest to explore. The overall design of Big Science isn't the most aesthetically diverse, but the gameplay feels tuned to the quirky experimental world that 'Splosion Man has such fun tearing apart. The gameplay does demand more memorization and coordination than other platformers in its market genre, but so many of the antics that the hero goes through are crafted with intense fluidity. It's also a fierce challenge, one that will truly test your mettle by its conclusion. If you're after a good deal, 'Splosion Man will deliver, with a nicely sized campaign and a tough, but deep cooperative gameplay mode. Twisted Pixel's weird sense of humor has long since permeated their offerings, but 'Splosion Man never feels lowbrow in its bizarre, goofball antics. It's a stylized and riotously funny outing that distinguishes itself without compromising its structure. For a mere 800 Microsoft Points ($10 US), there's no better time to get out there and start 'sploding.





Nothing Amazing here. Then again, Nothing bad either.

7.5

Great
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Grows on you"

Summary

This Game is pretty good when your looking to cool down from a tense game of FIFA or whatever. Nothing especially new or amazing in this game. There is also nothing especially bad about it either. It plays really smoothly and also looks pretty cool. One thing about it though is that it is very funny. Also exploding near-by the Scientists never gets old.

There is a lot of levels to this game and will take several hours to complete. You certainly get your 800 points worth with this game. The game can get very repetitive though. There are so many levels so it is only natural that the game would eventually run out of ideas. With the recent release of the sequel 'Ms Splosion Man'' You would be as well to buy that instead. Especially considering the bug fixes and the fact that it got a slightly better review on Gamespot.
9.5

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9.0
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