by Chris Priestman
previewed on X360
Chance for a comeback
Twisted Pixel is a small studio that became renown for their blend of laugh-out-loud humour and outrageously fun gameplay. It seemed that success had swelled in their head after The Maw and 'Splosion Man, however, as their last title, Comic Jumper, was a masturbatory exercise that only offered a bland tasting gruel as gameplay. Taking a step back, Twisted Pixel have followed in the steps of the Pac-Man series by creating Ms. Splosion Man. Ms. Pac-Man is one of the most popular games of all time because of the many great improvements it made over its predecessor. Will Ms. Splosion Man be able to follow this example? We managed to get some alone time with the lady herself, and made sure to place our hands all over 'Splosion Man’s other half.
Pretty In Pink
Lured by the sight of a gigantic cake, 'Splosion Man has finally been captured by the scientists that created him. The celebrations begin as the scientists party on down, but machinery gets covered in alcohol and buttons are accidentally pressed during the jubilation. Lost in their moment of glory, the scientists do not realise that they have created Ms. Splosion Man right in the middle of the party, bow and lipstick included.
Ms. Splosion Man plays out in pretty much the same way as its predecessor; this is a side scrolling platformer in which the playable character can splode up to three times as a means to triple jump. Wall bouncing, dodging machinery and sploding fleeing scientists into steaks all makes a come back. Of course this is all done with a girly touch; Ms. Splosion Man merges the insanity of her male counterpart with just about every female stereotype. As she moves across the screen she will skip, power walk, gossip on her cell phone and pirouette while singing parts of songs from the likes of Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls and even Willow Smith (I whip my hair back and forth), alternatively she may even sprout the stereotypical “Oh shut up, girlfriend”. This expected humour from Twisted Pixel often had me laughing out loud during fits of giggles as I performed even the most simple of tasks in the game, much to my delight. A further necessary change has been made to the collectibles across the levels, as Ms. Splosion Man is not so overjoyed by cake; that would go straight to her hips! Instead, Ms. Splosion Man will collect shoes after working out their whereabouts and performing the required actions to reach them – this will usually be a puzzle or a hard to reach place.
What is immediately noticeable with Ms. Splosion Man is the much greater variation in level design. One fault of the original Splosion Man, was the monotonous visuals of the Big Science labs you sploded your way around. This is addressed from the very start of Ms. Splosion Man as the science labs have been decorated for the party; so balloons, confetti and banners with “We caught him!” scrawled across them adorn the environment. You even go outside of the labs as well, with one of the highlights from what I played being jumping across flying cars amidst a futuristic city skyline, later on there are more tropical levels as well.
The gameplay has been equally spiced up with new mechanics that seem to match up with the additions made in Sonic the Hedgehog 2; ziplines, rotary launchers (from the Oil Ocean level) and counter weight jumps for those higher up places all vary up the gameplay much more this time around. A player favourite from the first game makes a comeback, albeit it be in a female form. The fat donut-loving guy that protected Splosion Man from lasers, is reincarnated as Mandy the fat scientist, who like all the other scientists in the game, is inspired by one of the development team. In an amusing scene that references Total Recall, it is seen that Mandy is actually more like a protective outer layer rather than shoved about like the donut guy was. Of course Mandy comes complete with her own theme tune akin to “Everybody Loves Donuts” from Splosion Man. Expect it to catch on.
Boss battles will once again provide a means to a more epic scenario. My battle with a giant robot initially had me being chased across the screen by the hunk of metal, before sploding off barrels to reach his weak point with correct timing. When the robot was weakened enough, Ms. Splosion Man jumped inside the robot while I was required to press a button to splode at the right time, and then mashing the same button for a much greater, finishing splode. Before destroying the robot completely, Twisted Pixel utilized the moment for a Predator reference – the robot activates a countdown for a self destruct and then laughs manically as our lady protagonist tries to escape.
Enough Splosion For Four
While the single player experience is all well and good, the multiplayer is perhaps the pinnacle of platforming greatness in 'Splosion Man and its sequel. Online and local 4 player co-op returns once again, so expect more quadruple sploding as you launch each other across pitfalls and purposely into lasers... for your own amusement. With the added gameplay mechanics things will get quite hectic as you and your buddies attempt to splode your way through the 50 unique multiplayer levels. If you have not experienced the 'Splosion Man multiplayer before, trust me, you are missing out. Gather your friends this Fall when Ms. Splosion Man hits XBLA, for it will be another laugh-out-loud experience for all of those who get in touch with their feminine side. Congratulations Twisted Pixel, you have returned to form.