'Splosion Man Review
If there is one thing I hate, its games with really stupid names that are trying to be clever with bad humor, which end up failing at almost everything. While ‘Splosion Man fails with the name and humor (mostly), it does get almost everything else right, and is one of the best 2D platformers to come out in recent memory. That’s probably because there isn’t many. The DS sees its fair share, but for the most part, the only platformers that come out now are based on movies or children’s IPs. Besides that, the genre is mostly kept to 3D. Mega Man 9 did recently come out, but it was developed as an old school game, not one that brought new mechanics to the table. ‘Spolsion Man manages to bring in new mechanics with just one button.
The entire game is played with whatever face button you feel like using. They all do the same thing, which is make the little fire guy you play as explode (the game tells you to “‘splode”, but I refuse to use to the term to keep my pride) and the whole game is based around exploding to reach new areas. The point of it is simple. Like most old-school platformers, the objective is to get from point A to B. The levels are all developed as their own little puzzles, and the level design is mostly excellent throughout the whole game. You get three explosions in total before your character burns out, and then you need to be on solid ground, or sliding down a wall for a second to relight him like a match. Then you need to wall jump, jump off of explosive barrels, hit switches, avoid spikes and water, and test your timing to get to the next area.
I will warn you now, compared to most games nowadays, this game is difficult. Not Mega Man difficult, but it takes platforming skill and timing that you’ll really only gain from having played the genre in the past. Luckily, the game does have a ton of checkpoints in each level, so even those who aren’t great at these types of games have a chance. Overall, there are 52 levels, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually quite long. The weird part about this, though, is that it only feels long because the scenery never changes. All levels take place in a scientific lab type area, and it never switches at all. While it does take away from the game a little bit, it doesn’t break it. It’s separated into three different worlds, and I think if each of them had some kind of difference the game would never seem stale. Unfortunately, I ended up playing it a world at a time to not get bored, but it doesn’t take away from how fun the game really is.
‘Splosion Man also offers a co-op mode with up to four players. The co-op is similar to the single player levels, but they have all been altered to take a massive amount of teamwork. They are harder and they are frustrating beyond belief. If you don’t all do things perfectly, forget it, it’s back to the last checkpoint. It’s a lot better and more fun to just play with one other person rather than a full group of four, but make sure you know this person in real life and can have them sitting next to you. While the game does offer online co-op, it’s very laggy at times, and in a game that requires perfect timing, makes it fairly impossible to finish the game. The co-op is a blast, and is extremely rewarding when you can finally finish an area, but be warned that the levels still don’t change in appearance. After playing through either the single player or co-op, you will probably find yourself suffering through boredom to play the other. It’s not that it’s not fun; you’ll just feel like you aren’t doing anything different. It’s probably the best to play them in multiple sittings. It’s a lot more enjoyable this way.
For platforming fans, ‘Splosion Man is a must buy. It takes skill, it’s frustrating, and it’s everything platformers are supposed to be. For $10 (800 MSP) it’s cheaper than most Arcade games that come out now, and is actually better than most of them. If you have a friend to play with, it’s even more incentive. Just make sure that you don’t take the game seriously at all, or it will probably seem super lame. It also has the most random ending of a video game ever, but it’s actually worth playing through just to see.
+ New spin on the platform genre, and a great one at that.
+ One button controls = innovation? It shows that you don’t need a bunch of complicated moves and weapons to make a fun game.
+ Co-op isn’t identical to the single player at all, and takes legitimate teamwork.
+ The ending is so random that it’s kind of awesome at the same time.
- Laggy online makes co-op unplayable at times.
- Same looking levels over and over again. Luckily the platforming fun saves how boring ‘Splosion Man is to look at.
- The name and term “splode” are really lame.
Grade – B+
The achievement list is pretty standard, but like most XBLA games, it takes more effort for 200 gamerscore than most 1000 point retail games do. First, you can try to change the controls for an achievement. Since the game only uses one button, there is nothing to change it to, and it unlocks. Then you can watch the credits (they are in the options menu) and right there you’ve already unlocked 20 points. Almost all the rest of them are just unlocked by playing the game. You’ll get one for not killing any scientists in a level, killing 10 scientists total, creating 5,000 fillets (these happen whenever you kill a scientist, so you should get it long before beating the game), exploding 1,000 times in a level, and then finding an old “friend” in the final level. They are all self-explanatory and should be unlocked no problem.
There are achievements for beating the game on single player and in co-op, and for collecting all the cakes in each mode. There are already guides online for all the locations of the cakes, but they really aren’t out of the way. A little exploration will get you most of them. Some of the cakes will need to be timed perfectly, or you will die from the levels obstacles. Once you’ve done all this you’ll ave 175/200 gamerscore. The final 25 points will be the big problem, because you need to beat the game on Hardcore mode, which has no checkpoints and one-hit deaths. The game even tells you not to play it, because it’s cheap, but if you are a completionist this will keep you busy for quite some time. Just be ready to break a controller or two.