It may sound strange, but some of the most fun we've had at this year's E3 has been with a bunch of new Arcade games at the Microsoft booth. 'Splosion Man is one of those, a wonderfully produced platforming game with an explosive twist. The game will form part of Microsoft's "Summer of Arcade" later this year, but we were able to get a lengthy hands-on ahead of release.
In 'Splosion Man, the main character has been the subject of scientific testing gone wrong. He's been left with explosive powers that he can use to propel him through the air, but he's a bit annoyed at constantly being on fire. His life becomes all about exacting revenge as he runs amok through the labs, trying to blow up the scientists responsible.
Although this might sound like a pretty morose setup for an arcade game, it's done in a very tongue-in-cheek style. The graphical presentation is colourful, almost cel-shaded, and the main character is animated in a cheeky, over-the-top manner. He runs with his arms flailing around in the air, and if you explode next to the scientists, they fall to the ground as pieces of meat. This is a good-looking game that also has a sense of humour.
The main purpose of the story is to offer a genuinely new twist on the platforming genre. 'Splosion Man can explode himself three times in a row, which lets him propel himself a little bit further each time. Combined with the ability to hang onto walls, he can climb tall heights quite easily, and this forms a sort of tutorial for the game. Once you've got the hang of it, you have to combine these powers with explosive barrels in the environment to really fly through the levels, and the game gradually becomes faster and more frantic as a result.
We really enjoyed our time with 'Splosion Man, and the guys over at developer Twisted Pixel seem to have nailed their follow-up to The Maw. The game will be hitting the Xbox 360 later in the year, so have your Microsoft points at the ready.