majormitch's Ms. Splosion Man (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

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I saw a girl the other day

I was a big fan of the original ‘Splosion Man. Rarely have I seen that level of quantity and quality united under such a low price tag, and to a fair degree Ms. Splosion Man offers the same bang for your buck. But it also lacks the polished level design and originality of its predecessor, which makes for a game that doesn’t always give back as much as you put into it.

For the most part Ms. Splosion Man is more ‘Splosion Man. This is a high octane 2D platformer with tight controls, one that’s at its best when you're constantly moving forward and hitting your cues with crackerjack timing. That emphasis on timing and precision is what made ‘Splosion Man great, and Ms. Splosion Man is able to replicate this for the most part. It also has the same knack for taking simple mechanics and carrying them a long way. For a game where all you can do is run and jump there’s a lot of variety packed in here, and most of it is pretty neat. Ms. Splosion Man is also chock full of Twisted Pixel’s patented humor and charm, with hilarious original songs and FMV work scattered throughout. The game can rely a little too heavily on this stuff here and there, and the titular main character’s constant pop culture references end up repeating way too often, but overall this stuff is great. The game also looks noticeably better than ‘Splosion Man, but it comes at a price. There are many moments where the background is a little too busy and colorful, making it easy to lose sight of your character, or even what exactly is happening on the screen. It can be kind of distracting.

Ultimately though, ‘Splosion Man worked so well due to its fantastic level design. Ms. Splosion Man matches it at times, but there are too many instances where distances and timings feel off. For example, it might be clear that you’re supposed to launch from one barrel to another, but the first barrel’s explosion will send you flying too far past your target. These kinds of scenarios are commonplace, and I felt like I was frequently fighting with the levels to try and get where they wanted me to go, which wasn't always where they were actually sending me. It came off feeling kind of sloppy, ultimately making it much more frustrating than a game as demanding as this should be. The camera also does a pretty poor job at highlighting where you should be looking, and checkpoints are often placed just far enough apart to make every segment exponentially more tedious. It just goes to show the fine line even the best games must walk- a few seemingly minor changes can make a world of difference, and in this case it leads to a game that doesn’t feel like it’s worth the effort quite often enough.

Ms. Splosion Man made me realize that I don’t necessarily need more ‘Splosion Man anytime soon, especially if the level designs are less than perfect. It’s by no means a bad game, but also feels like a hastily pieced together level pack as much as anything else. If you have $10 lying around and are looking for a sizable amount of demanding platforming action, then Ms. Splosion Man is certainly a worthy purchase. Just be prepared to experience your fair share of headaches along the way.

For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.

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