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Ms. Splosion Man (Xbox 360) artwork

Ms. Splosion Man (Xbox 360) review


"Whenever I thought a particular ordeal wasn't too tough, it seemed like it wouldn't take long for me to have to face a tougher version of it...likely with some sort of instant-death trap added to the mix in order to provide a bit of extra pressure. I'd need split second timing to outrace a series of propelled spiked walls. Or bounce from one flying car to the next, occasionally 'sploding on a barrel so it could propel me to the next group of vehicles (as opposed to meeting my demise courtesy of one obstacle or another). Or any number of other tasks."



After a few days with Twisted Pixel's Ms. Splosion Man, I might need a new right thumb. That's one of the side effects of an extended stay in platform hell. A kinder, more gentle version of that diabolical place, but still a sadistic and cruel domain where no matter how forcefully I jammed down on buttons and contorted my body in order to get a little more distance on a jump, I still died more times than I care to disclose.

The sequel to 2009's Splosion Man, this game successfully improves on the original. Things open with the main character of that game finally getting captured by the cannon fodder scientists he'd been blowing up in level after level. Of course, since these scientists are bumbling fools, they couldn't even celebrate their shocking victory property and wound up spilling champagne into some machinery, causing a chain reaction that created a female counterpart to Splosion Man. If you caught the title of this $10 Live Arcade game in the first sentence of this review, you know her name.

From there, you'll take Ms. Splosion Man through three worlds containing nearly 50 levels which are similar in concept to those in Splosion Man, but with many noticeable differences. Here, it doesn't take long for the designers to remove the kid gloves and start bringing the pain. I died multiple times on the very first level, which is dominated by a lengthy chase scene involving the missile-loving boss from the first game (who is greatly damaged from his confrontation with Splosion Man). Things only got worse for me from there, as each level seemed more fiendishly constructed than the last, making it a test of will just to make it from one checkpoint to the next.

The mechanics are the same. Ms. Splosion Man can run and 'splode. The latter of those two options is essentially a "do-everything" tool for getting through levels. You can jump, bounce off walls and destroy enemies and obstacles by 'sploding. With levels designed with the sorts of corridors, ledges, pits and exploding barrels one might expect from a platformer, this ability to 'splode will be used thousands of times as you progress through the game.

Keeping this from simply feeling like a rehash of the original game, Ms. Splosion Man added some variety to its levels. Instead of spending the entire game in the world's least safe laboratory, you now spend equal time in the tropics and a factory. Even the laboratory world has many segments placing you outside, 'sploding from one flying car to the next.

A variety of new and/or improved mechanisms were added, as well. You'll be able to zip along on wires and get blasted through the air by cannons. At times, stages shift gears from frenetic action to a more slow-paced puzzle style of play, where you have to manipulate switches and barrels in order to open the door to the next part of the stage. You'll bounce on trampolines and, at times, ride missiles. While you typically can only 'splode three times before needing to recharge, some greenish background walls allow you to do so an unlimited number of times (as long as you don't bounce off that area). This game has "it" as far as an addictive factor goes. I always wanted to reach that next checkpoint or see the next level.

It's good Ms. Splosion Man has "it", or I'd have been horribly frustrated LONG before even making it to the end of the first world. This game is brutal, with countless numbers of sadistic challenges. Whenever I thought a particular ordeal wasn't too tough, it seemed like it wouldn't take long for me to have to face a tougher version of it...likely with some sort of instant-death trap added to the mix in order to provide a bit of extra pressure. I'd need split second timing to outrace a series of propelled spiked walls. Or bounce from one flying car to the next, occasionally 'sploding on a barrel so it could propel me to the next group of vehicles (as opposed to meeting my demise courtesy of one obstacle or another). Or any number of other tasks.

It takes a lot of work and effort to get through these levels, so what do you do if you're like me and stuck at a certain point, needing to progress farther in the game in order to write a review in a timely fashion? You take advantage of game-encouraged cheating, that's what! After you die a certain number of times on a particular level, you'll be able to access a menu option allowing you to skip to the next checkpoint with the only real "cost" being a humorous (if somewhat sexist) rap concerning big booties and backing it up like a dump truck. Well, you won't be allowed to compete on the online leaderboards, as your score will be zero and your time will be 999:59.99. And the screen which displays all this will have the word "cheater" displayed where your heroine holds her head while shaking it back-and-forth. There's no pride in cheating, but it can keep the blood pressure down when you've failed to outrun that deadly forcefield-like thing for the umpteenth time.

Basically, this game can be as easy or hard as you want it to be. If you find things to be too difficult, you can skip the tougher parts of any level. On the other hand, you can also hunt down the secret exits which are hidden in a handful of levels. Also, with the world map, you occasionally will come across a fork in the road. One path will take you to the next "normal" level; the other will take you to one marked by a red flag with a skull-and-crossbones imprinted upon it. These levels were designed to give players an optional extra challenge. You don't have to do them, but if you really want to put your skills to the test, you will. No matter how pain it causes you.

The only real problem I have with Ms. Splosion Man is that at times the view zooms out too much, making characters too tiny for my 32" television. I died a few times because I briefly lost track of my character in the debris of an explosion or because I got hung up on a huddled scientist who I could hardly make out on the screen. Also, when the screen zooms out like that, it's possible for the light pink color of Ms. Splosion Man to fade into the background a bit, compounding that difficulty. When I'm dying countless times due to the game's difficulty, it doesn't help matters when a handful of cheap deaths are added to the body count.

Still, this game is a blast and well worth the money if you're an old-school platformer fan looking for a challenge. There's also a number of pics, music clips and movies to "purchase" with your rewards for beating levels and a multiplayer version containing new levels and a different ending. Some day, I'll have to kidnap someone who has a 360 controller and force them to play through that with me, making sure they know they won't be set free...or given food...until we've finished every single level. Ms. Splosion Man offers a lot of challenge and entertainment. I can't wait for my thumb to stop throbbing, so I can try finishing some of the tougher levels the honest way.

Rating: 9/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (July 13, 2011)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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