Splosion Man

If I was to say Twisted Pixel to you,I’d get a few nods of appreciation. If I was to say The Maw, however, then I think a lot more of you would start paying attention. Splosion Man is the latest XBLA title from Twisted Pixel -the brains behind The Maw and a development team that’s beginning to outdo Ninja Bee for quirky gameplay.

The concept of Splosion Man is simple. Created in a lab, Splosion Man is a science experiment gone rogue. A man who can explode at will while suffering no ill effects himself. Using a ridiculously simple control scheme (left stick to move, any other face button to splode) your job is to guide Splosion Man out of the confines of the lab to freedom.

Travelling through the fifty levels is a simple affair (and, once you get the hang of it, why not try the time trial mode and do it as quickly as possible?) – you can splode (that’s the actual technical term, before you complain) three times before you need to recharge (on a floor or wall) and using this any obstacle can be bettered. Along the way you’ll come across various barrels – explode near these to get a boost to your jumps, from a gentle nudge to a sudden burst of speed that propels you across or up the level in a flash. You’ll come across force fields, moving walls, rising water and spinning wheels in the course of your travels and even if you mess it up the One More Go Fairy will wave her magic wand and you’ll be back in the fray before you know it. Even the camera is practically faultless, tracking your progress around the level, changing angle to provide you with a clearer view of your root or zooming out when you need to see the bigger picture you’re never left wondering where the hell you are – and if you do find yourself a bit visually challenged a quick move of the right stick should move the camera enought to show you your immediate surroundings.

It should be noted that some of the puzzles, particularly the ones requiring fast movement and fairly spot on timing will raise a few angry shouts but you really should stick with it because when you conquer a section (the first rising water section, I found, is an absolute swine) and the little checkpoint lights up you’ll be a very happy and contented gamer. You’ll also find yourself wondering why you couldn’t do that in the first place because it was ludicrously simple. That’s what’s brilliant about this game, it’ll punish you for messing up by forcing a restart from a checkpoint (none of which, by the way, are miles away from where you croaked) but you end up feeling it was easy when you finally pull it off.

Splosion Man is full of neat little touches. Feel the smile grow on your face as Splosion Man runs with arms outstretched like an aeroplane, or chuckle as he cartwheels through the air with a manic grin on his face. Just leave him on the spot and the idle animations will keep you entertained for a while. There’s a subtle nod to Portal in the bonus cakes hidden in each level – some of which take a bit of planning to get to. In one last master stroke, play the game for long enough and you might even find yourself eye to eye with a certain pink devourer of planets.

Graphically, as you may expect if you’ve played The Maw, the game is presented in a cartoony style with nervous scientists waiting to be sploded into cuts of meat while the sound lets you enjoy Splosion Man’s mutterings as he moves around. He’s not particularly coherent but the occasional little chuckle, or the way he hums to himself occasionally make the whole playing experience a lot more fun.

There is a multiplayer mode, which sees you and a friend each taking the role of a Splosion Man. The gameplay is the same except this time you’ll need to work together, using joint explosions or the carefully timed explosion of your partner to propel yourself around the fifty “made for two” levels. This is made even better by the fact that you can activate a little countdown on your character to show your friend when you’re about to detonate. That in itself is an extra layer of polish on a game that’s already shiny enough to see your face in.







3 responses to “Splosion Man”

  1. John.B avatar

    “It’s only 800 points. Now scan the marketplace for the 1200 point titles, with a few exceptions they’re all pish.”


  2. Ramsden avatar

    I’m quite glad that this turned out to be such a great game, considering it was enough for me to see the name Twisted Pixel attached to it. The Maw was one of the best XBLA games of last year, so I was more than willing to take a leap of faith on their second effort. If only all XBLA games had this level of eccentric creativity… and as you rightly pointed out, this is a bloody bargain too at the cheap price considering the extras and the increased length over The Maw. Anyone with a 360 should play this at least once.

  3. Jamesbuc avatar

    just tried the trial out and wow 😀 Twisted Pixel do it again. Ill grab that and then later MvC2. FUN!

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