Everybody loves donuts
I had fun playing through Twisted Pixel's The Maw earlier this year, and was both surprised and excited when they announced a second game so soon. 'Splosion Man hit Xbox Live Arcade a mere six months after The Maw, though the game clearly didn't suffer any from such a quick turnaround. In fact, 'Splosion Man is not only better than The Maw, it's better than a lot of games. This is a frantically fun game that's full of personality, and is absolutely worth a purchase from anyone who remotely likes anything about 2D platformers.
At its core, that's exactly what 'Splosion Man is- a 2D platformer. A lot of old school design can be found in every part of the game, and its essence will evoke memories of classics such as Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country. The gameplay is centered around precision and timing based jumps, though in this case you jump by 'sploding (you know, exploding). In fact, all you can do other than run left or right is 'splode, but the levels are designed with this in mind, and get a ton of mileage out of this single mechanic as a result. 'Sploding is used for jumping, attacking, and interacting with all sorts of environmental objects- the controls for which are all super tight. I've always felt that the best games take solid controls and simple mechanics, and flesh them out in ways that lead to tons of variety without overcomplicating the issue. In this regard, 'Splosion Man is fantastic. It's incredibly simple, yet manages to introduce exciting new scenarios throughout it's entirety.
That's what the great classic 2D platformers did, and 'Splosion Man replicates their success with ease- it even provides a stiff challenge to boot. And while there are many moments in the game that will require multiple attempts, 'Splosion Man goes a long way towards making even the most difficult segments enjoyable. The responsive controls are a start, but it's the game's cleverly placed checkpoints that eliminate any brooding frustration that might otherwise reduce the game to an exercise in tedium. The result is a challenging game that is rarely ever annoying. And to top it all off, the game's lighthearted presentation is simply delightful. The art style, music, and even 'Splosion Man himself (one of the best new video game characters of the year) are hysterical, and infuse the game with tons of personality. The whole thing has a great sense of humor, and had me laughing constantly- something most games don't seem to do enough of.
In the end, I can't really think of anything negative to say about 'Splosion Man- this game has it all. Simple mechanics wrapped in great controls, a solid challenge, tons of variety across numerous levels, and an awesome presentation are only the highlights. The icing on the cake? 'Splosion Man only costs $10. That's an absolute steal for a quality game such as 'Splosion Man, making it a must buy for any self respecting fan of platformers.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.