GET TO DA CHOPPA'!
Ah, the Summer. A time for sitting outside in the sun, going to the pub or jetting away to parts foreign (though, as I write this its actually raining, but hey thats what you get in late August in Leeds). However, Microsoft missed the memo and instead thinks its time for us to be sat around our Xbox 360s playing a new set of the top of the range Xbox Live Arcade games. So they have the Summer of Arcade over 5 weeks. The first game this year is ‘Spolsion Man from Twisted Pixel, the makers of The Maw.
For anyone who hasn’t tried out the trial or who hasn’t a 360, ‘Splosion Man is a 2.5D platforming game based around a man who can explode himself in order to leap around the map like a crazy loon while quoting Arnie quotes (Get to da choppa!). Now, this may sounds completely crazy. Let me explain. Your character is the subject of a scientific experiment that allows you to explode at will. You are now trying to escape from this science facility by moving around the world’s worst designed science labs.
Seriously who sets up a lab with closing crushing panels? It doesn’t matter, but it sets up some pretty good puzzles. Additionally, the scientists around the base have set up several other blocks to your escape, such as sentry bots, room mounted guns and, your worst fear, water. At the start, some of these are complete classics that glide along in a nice rhythm. However, around the half way point the puzzles seem to lose some of their charm. They are still fun, but not quite as good as the first couple. In fact after a while they become really frustrating. Its even worse because the action starts moving so fast. In the time it takes to think about one jump, quite often you’ll have hurtled one million metres through the air into a wall. The controls are among the simplest in the world, just to ease off the complexity slightly. You cann splode 3 times in the row by pressing any of the face buttons (A, X, Y or B). And those are the only controls you will need to know.
The game itself has a lot of content. There are 50 levels of singleplayer sploding, which can be played in either story mode or replayed as a time trial. In addition, the game also has 4 player co-op sploding with another 50 completely new levels. These are not just the singleplayer levels rehashed, but ones designed specifically for co-op so expect puzzles requiring players to bounce off each other in mid air. The game also dishes out two free gamerpics and a premium theme just by playing the game through, which is quite generious. Additionally, it will be the first game to use Avatar Awards when they are finally included. Hopefully, they will be the first of many developers to include it. Finally, the achivements for ‘Splosion Man are acrually very good, but for all those without Xbox Live Gold, two achivements require it.
The art style of ‘Splosion Man is very similar to Twisted Pixel’s last game, with all the characters having a nice soft look to them while simultaneously looking like plastic figures. The design for the game also borrows a lot from the steroytypical evil villian labs, with clean looking corridors, scientists in labcoats and lots and lots of lava. In fact the base itself seems to be inside a volcano, judging by the rivers of lava that sweep through the base. It has a looks of plastic action figures to it. The animation style has an air of comedy to it, with ‘Splosion Man juggling his eyes when he stands idle. The audio design is also comedic. The only vocals are ‘Splosion Man’s own little comedy outbursts, often taking place in the middle of a crazy combination. The music adds to this, with a soundtrack suiting the antics of an exploding person. And it has a Portal-esque song at the end.
I quite enjoyed ‘Splosion Man, but I found several parts of it very frustrating. Its something I enjoyed playing but probably wouldn’t replay it after finishing it.
I give ‘Splosion Man on Xbox Live Arcade 70%