|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Twisted Pixel Games|
|Release: July 13, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence, Drug Reference, Mild Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
It's easy to feel cynical about the future of video games. As game developers churn out the same old minigame compilations over and over and actively cater to the lowest common denominator, it can be hard to see where the next wave of innovation will come from. However, after playing Ms. 'Splosion Man, you'll probably feel a little better about the industry.
Ms. Splosion Man, like its predecessor, has a simple premise but excels because it creates immense challenge. It proves that you can have a singular game mechanic—'splode to win!—but make it interesting enough to fill 50 incredible levels. Its innovation comes from the back-to-basics gameplay that doesn't need to rely on flashy visuals or an incredible storyline. The design theory here is simple: Just make amazing levels, give gamers a challenge, and then sit back and watch the 'splosions.
If you played 'Splosion Man last year, you know exactly what to expect from this follow-up. You play as an artificially-created being with the unique ability to make itself explode. Exploding is your basic means of both combat and locomotion. You'll need to use the environment to make each explosion count so you can make it to the end of each level. You can only explode three times before needing to "recharge" by touching the ground or an item that will reset the counter. This means you'll have to be strategic with your 'splodes and not just blast all over the place willy-nilly.
There isn't really much plot to the game, but you'll have so much fun with the level design and gameplay that you're not likely to mind the story's absence.
Levels take you to some interesting places in Ms. 'Splosion Man. You'll be exploding off the walls of science labs, a busy highway, and even a tropical resort. The world of Ms. 'Splosion Man is quite large despite being absolutely linear by design. Though the gameplay will keep you quite focused on your objectives, the change in scenery is always appreciated, and you can look forward to plenty of visual gags along the way. Ms. 'Splosion Man has an incredible sense of humor, and its unique brand of irreverence is definitely apparent in the level design.
Adding further to the game's charm is the character of Ms. 'Splosion Man herself. She's chock full of pop culture references that gamers of all ages will get, even though she's just been created when the game begins. I don't know how she had time to process all of this pop culture knowledge, but apparently she was "Born This Way." Whether she's dancing the Macarena, singing along to "Single Ladies," or quoting Jerry Maguire, Ms. 'Splosion Man seems to have the cultural lexicon down pat, and the results are hilarious. Oh, and did I mention she also ballet-dances her way through levels? Yeah, Ms. 'Splosion Man is one crazy lady, but that's just the way we love her.
But let me be clear on one thing: Though Ms. 'Splosion Man is bursting at the seams with humor and charm, you will throw your controller across the room at some point during this game. The platforming in Ms. 'Splosion Man is intense, and you'll have to use plenty of strategies to get through each level. There are environmental puzzles, timing-based challenges, and enemies just waiting for you to mess up just once so you'll have to restart at your last checkpoint. The game also grades you on how fast you can make it through each level, and your first time through, you'll be lucky to make it out in twice the "goal" time. However, Ms. 'Splosion Man is a game that was meant to be replayed, and if you are the type of person that likes speed runs and leaderboard competitions, you'll have a blast playing and replaying each crazy level.