Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Blowing Up All Over The Place: What Makes The Splosion Man Games So Awesome...

The platform genre has a rich history wrapped in it's combination of versatility and core simplicity. Whether you're avoiding traps, solving puzzles, fighting waves of enemies, or trying to scale a tower, they all share the core mechanic of jumping. The platforming genre, were once the second most popular genre of game next to shoot em ups, but with the rise of beefier consoles, and players wanting a more "mature" experience, the platformer was relegated to shovelware status by developers and consumers alike. The rise of online gaming services like Xbox Live Arcade, WiiWare, and Playstation Network have given new games with an old school a place to find great success, and such was the case for Splosion Man.

Splosion Man is very simple in story and basic controls, but the level designs and the undeniable charm the characters exhibit give Splosion Man the kind of appeal that hasn't been seen in a game in a long time. As far as that simplistic story goes, Splosion Man is an experiment created by "Big Science" and he wants out of their facility. In order to escape, he has to use his only power, the ability to make himself explode, to navigate the massive "Big Science" facility. scattered around the facility, which encompasses the game's 50 levels, are a variety of exploding barrels that can be used as defense or propulsion, depending on the situation. The end of the first Splosion Man was fulfilling, but as a fan of the game, it leaves you wanting more. This is where Ms. Splosion Man comes in.

Ms. Splosion Man picks up right where Splosion Man ends. Splosion Man was captured and during the ensuing celebration, a surge of electricity combined with the chance inclusion of a bow falling to est on an experimentation platform triggers a reaction that creates another entity capable of generating it's own explosions much like Splosion man. The only difference is that this one IS A LADY (I just said that in my Leon Phelps voice). She's pink with a yellow bow atop her head, she skips, and sings bits of Gwen Stefani and Spice Girl songs. Instead of the highly sought out cake from the first game, players collect different pairs of shoes, which upon picking up, are worn by Ms. Splosion Man throughout the rest of that level.

In much the same way that Ms. Pac Man was an improvement on Pac Man, Ms. Splosion Man is an upgrade of everything that was awesome about Splosion Man. Actually, there was very little in my opinion that needed to be changed about Splosion Man, the good folks at Twisted Pixel simply made Ms. Splosion Man control a little tighter, move a little faster, and added a few quirks into certain levels to increase the creativity of the puzzle elements in the game. There is loads of attitude and personality into this game that without revealing anything makes you appreciates the greatness of quirky platformers of days gone by like Boogerman, Earthworm Jim, and Claymates.

Splosion Man and it's sequel, Ms. Splosion Man have proven that a game can succeed on the merits of tight control, fun gameplay, and a great sense of humor. Both games cost 800 Microsoft points and are a pair of the best platformers to be released on the Xbox 360. Two inventive, incredibly fun platformers for $20 is a deal I'd gladly take.

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