Ms. 'Splosion Man Review
Thrilling level design makes Ms. 'Splosion Man an explosively fun platformer.
- Constantly evolving, wonderfully challenging level design
- Separate co-op campaign is terrific
- Lots of funny moments and funny extras
- Leaderboards, ghosts, and collectibles provide heaps of replay value.
- Visuals get too busy at times
- Puzzles occasionally slow down the action.
The sweetest victories are often the hardest won. Such is the case with Ms. 'Splosion Man. This 2D platformer's diabolical levels challenge you at almost every step of your journey. But that difficulty makes your victories all the more rewarding, and the terrific level design and the joy of success motivate you to overcome each obstacle you face just to see what deadly trap awaits you after the next checkpoint. On occasion, you may find yourself in situations that seem almost insurmountable, but the titular protagonist is undaunted by such circumstances. And if you keep at it, you repeatedly experience the satisfaction that comes with discovering that there's nothing you can't accomplish with some hard work and a dash of girl power.
The nefarious scientists of the original 'Splosion Man have captured that game's combustible hero. As they celebrate their triumph with an ill-advised champagne party in the lab, a pretty bow lands in one of their contraptions, and Ms. 'Splosion Man is born. As her name implies, she takes a cue from the Ms. Pac-Man school of female character design; she looks a lot like 'Splosion Man, but she sports a touch of lipstick and a bow. This pink figure of pure, explosive energy immediately sets out to wreak havoc and rescue her male counterpart. Despite developer Twisted Pixel's tongue-in-cheek challenge to the Unreal Engine ("Your move, Unreal!") that plays when you fire up the game, Ms. 'Splosion Man isn't visually impressive, but it does have a cartoony charm. Ms. 'Splosion Man herself conveys tremendous bottled-up energy as she strides, dances and power walks her way through levels, and when she splodes, she does so in a pink cloud of light and hearts. At times, though, the visuals can get a bit too chaotic, and it can be easy to lose site of the heroine amidst all the explosions your splosions are causing.
Ms. 'Splosion Man eases you into its gameplay, with a few slow and easy early levels that give you a bit of time to get familiar with the mechanics of sploding. If you played 'Splosion Man, you'll immediately feel at home here. The act of sploding is the equivalent of jumping, and you can splode three times before you need to recharge, which you can do by landing on the ground, sliding down a wall for a few seconds, or sploding off of certain barrels and enemies. Sploding has the added benefit of causing wanton destruction as you lay waste to machines and vaporize those pesky scientists, and it's fun to leave devastation in your wake.
Despite your tremendous sploding power, though, you've got your work cut out for you as you make your way through these levels. The challenge ramps up fast, and it ramps up in a big way. Most levels are filled with diabolical traps and deadly situations from start to finish. Things happen fast in Ms. 'Splosion Man. You might find yourself speeding along rails one moment, sploding up a tower as a deadly electrical barrier pursues you the next, followed by a soaring flight through the air. The breakneck pace and the constant evolution of levels keep things thrilling. Successfully sploding your way through these environments takes skill and persistence. You will die, a lot. Most of the time, it will be your fault. You might screw up the timing of a splosion and fly right past that green barrel you needed to splode off of. Or you might not react quickly enough to the sight of that electrical barrier just up ahead on the rail you're gliding along.
On occasion, you might rightfully blame the game for your death as, for instance, you slam into a wall of spikes you couldn't possibly have known was there. But, your fault or not, each death is a learning experience, and in the treacherous levels of Ms. 'Splosion Man, knowledge is power. As you try and try again, the precise timing you might need to survive a section gets easier, and eventually, you succeed. It's this process of improvement--of overcoming challenges that at first seem almost unconquerable--that makes Ms. 'Splosion Man so rewarding. Regularly positioned checkpoints throughout each level ensure that you never have to replay long sections, and each time you reach one, it's an encouraging little victory that nudges you on toward the level's conclusion.