Thursday, July 30, 2009

'Splosion Man XBLA Review

I'm always skeptical of brand new developers. The people must be skilled to be producing games, but do they really know what they are doing? Can they produce games to the quality of long standing companies?
When Twisted Pixel Games released The Maw on XBLA a while back I was proven wrong. It was the perfect example of what fresh blood can bring to digital media.

The developers’ next title, Splosion Man, is much of the same level of creativity and ingenuity.

Simplicity is key here. Effectively, you have two controls in single player: the ability to move left and right and 'Splode' (which is basically a jump). The aim is to traverse through the 50 single player and 50 multiplayer levels, sploding your way through and past various traps, enemies and puzzles.
Simple often translates as easy, but Splosion Man isn't willing to fall into this category lightly. You see, you can only Splode three times in succession before having to recharge by landing. And add into the equation that you will have to time your splodes very carefully, some of the later levels get very challenging without getting too frustrating and stopping you from playing. At one point, I even died so often the game humorously offered to let me chicken out of the level and skip it.

The multiplayer allows you to romp through an entirely different set of 50 puzzles with a pal. This adds extra depth as you are required to splode with the other person (adding your third control, the ability to countdown to your splode) to propel one, or both of you, higher, or further, through the level. This definitely took some practice, especially section that didn’t allow you to stand together before sploding, and it got a little confusing at time, but practice makes perfect.

So what happens after you complete the 100 levels? Glad you asked! The design of the games leaderboards means that you'll be fighting for the best times on your favorite levels. I found myself thinking of ways to shave valuable seconds off my times, whilst also sploding enough scientists and equipment to boost my score.

All in all, this is one of the more enjoyable XBLA titles I've played this year and at 800 MSP it's a bargain.

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