Splosion Man

August 3, 2009

Like Twisted Pixel’s other Xbox Live Arcade game The Maw, ‘Splosion Man is a small indie title that pretty much came out of nowhere. The Maw is a fantastic game, but clearly Twisted Pixel has stepped up its game with this release.

‘Splosion Man is a simple platformer with plenty of puzzles that require quick wits as well as quick reflexes, and despite its simplicity, you’ll find a surprising amount of depth.

The story is…nonexistent, pretty much. You’re just a man made of “splosions,” and your goal is to…well, “splode.” Once you start playing, none of that will matter to you. The controls are as basic as you can get. You use the left analog stick to move the character, and any of the face buttons (A, B, X, Y) to Splode and send the little guy flying. You can Splode up to three times in a single jump, after which you’ll need to recharge by landing on a flat surface or clinging to a wall. It seems incredibly basic at first, and maybe even repetitive, but once you make more progress you’ll learn that the game presents is more complex than most platformers.

There is a surprising amount of depth, challenge, and replayability in this title. The game presents plenty of small puzzles throughout the wonderfully designed stages, each of which may test your reflexes as well as your patience. Sure, it can be frustrating at times, but it’s also a very rewarding experience. The levels also sometimes have branching paths, some of which may just give you another way to progress, others which lead you to secrets such as the game’s collectibles: cake. There are forty-seven pieces of cake to collect throughout the game’s fifty stages, one for each main stage (excluding the boss fights). 

There is also a co-op mode that offers entirely new levels, puzzles, and rewards throughout. Just get two, three, or four of your friends together to Splode the time away. Although I suggest everyone to wants to play the multiplayer get through the single player experience first, because it’ll teach you many tricks you may need throughout the even more challenging co-op. And speaking of a greatest challenge, the game offers a hardcore difficulty once you finish on the normal setting. It removes all of the checkpoints, among other things, and gives you plenty of chances to test your own Splosion Man skills.

Sadly, there are a couple of very small problems. For one, the character can cling to walls, but sometimes it’s hard to easily let go of the wall during a tricky jump, and it may lead to some frustration. Another problem I noticed is with the camera. It tends to zoom out during certain sections, to show you the entire room, but sometimes the camera will remain that way even after you clear a certain puzzle. But these are minor complaints that most people won’t be too bothered by in the long run.

Overall, ‘Splosion Man offers an incredible amount of depth and challenge for only $10. ‘Splosion Man will rank among the best of downloadable titles such as Braid and World of Goo, and should be played for many months to come.

ESRB: E10+ for ages ten and up, mainly due to the cartoon violence

Pros: Simplistic controls make it easy to get into; fantastic level design; multiplayer, a harder difficulty, and extra collectibles make this a replayable game

Cons: Small camera issues; ‘Splosion Man clinging to walls leads to problems during tricky jumping sections

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.