Versus Review / ‘Splosion Man (Xbox 360)

The Rules

Occasionally a game will come along that rips the TVGB team in two and no amount of swearing at each other will resolve it. So, in the interest of fairness, we devised a way of letting you decide. If something comes along that we just can’t agree on, you’ll get one of these – a versus review. One game. Two writers. Two reviews. Two opinions. Let us know who you think is right in the comments.

The Facts

‘Splosion Man is a 2.5D platformer from Twisted Pixel, the guys behind The Maw. You play the titular firey hero, who following a terrible accident in a mysterious underground lab, finds himself bathed in radioactive flames and able to self-combust at will. You can self-combust (stop giggling) three times; once to get yourself in the air and then another two times while you’re there. It’s a triple-jump basically. You’ll use this ability to do reach platforms, distance-boosting exploding barrels, reduce the odd enemy to steak, take on massive bosses and ultimately escape the underground lair to freedom.

The Battle

Lee Bradley

Splosion Man is more hyperactive than Lindsay Lohan on a 3-day coke binge. The entire experience rips by at breakneck speed and crackles with manic energy. Put the controller down and ten minutes later your head will still be spinning. It is absolutely nuts.

Each level is like an intricately planned action sequence demanding pixel-perfect reactions. You’ll blast from barrel to barrel, fly though the air, reduce scientists to steaks and sausages, lab equipment to rubble, and robots to a mess of cogs. It may all seem anarchic, but it demands the utmost precision and timing. Like trying to defuse a bomb attached to your nuts, there is absolutely no room for error.

Much of the game’s crazed verve comes from Splosion Man himself. Run along and he’ll cackle like a chimp or stretch out his arms like a schoolboy pretending to be a plane. Leave the little fella alone for half a second and he’ll start practicing kung-fu moves or juggling fireballs. Jumpsplode around and he’ll be shouting garbled pop-culture quotes. He’s a popping, spitting, ember of energy and you can’t fail to love him.

The first time you try to negotiate a tricky section and Splosion Man manicly gurgles “get to the chopper” or “we’re done, professionally” for no apparent reason, I defy you not to smile.

Despite an unavoidable homage to 20 years of the very best platform games out there, Twisted Pixel have created something utterly unique. The genius of the game lies in giving your deranged character one simple ability and creating environments that explore every single nuance of it. Over the course of the 50+ single-player levels, your skills will be wrung dry.

Of course, some may whine at the game’s difficulty levels *cough* Chad *cough*, but they’ve been mollycoddled for too long. Just fire it up and get stuck in, you big girl.

Besides, even if you put all Splosion Man‘s obvious qualities aside; even if you forget the nutso charm, the fantastic level design, the sheer amount of offline and online content, the bonkers vocal work and the general levels of awesome that burst out of the game – the end credits are worth 800 Microsoft Points alone. They’re the single most screwed up thing you will ever see. Forget “Still Alive,” forget that “Go Deep, Go Hard” CoD4 ending, this is where it’s at. I wish I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil it.

Splosion Man is the bomb. It will blow you away and ‘splode your mind. Only an idiot could disagree.

Over to you Chad…

Chad George

Lee, you ignorant slut. How you could truly enjoy this game only goes to show that food is not the only place in which we Yanks have better taste. I started playing Splosion Man with an open mind, thinking that possibly I had been mistaken in my dislike of the game, I really did. Yet again, my original thought was proven to be the correct one.

The game starts out with an introduction to the main character, what I can only assume to be the Domino’s Noid set on fire and let loose on a meth-crazed binge. After the manic babble and cut scene are done, I was thrust into a hallway with no idea what to do or how to proceed. Apparently the developers just assumed I would run around and press buttons, hoping something magical would happen. So I did just that, discovering the three ‘splode limit; I also discovered that holding down the right trigger causes the meth-head to go into seizures and self detonate, just like in LittleBigPlanet.

Speaking of the only decent game in this article, you mentioned something about “enemies,” right Lee? Those robots you refer to are simply rejects from the developers halfhearted attempts to make a level for their Sackboy. Equipped with set patterns, horrible AI, and the ability to not drop down an inch, the only way to eliminate them is to pop the blue ‘brain’ bubble on their backs.

The level design leaves much to be desired for a true platform fan, such as myself. The main thing I wonder is this: Why in the world was a company, like the one that created this menace to all gamedom, built in such a way that all their floors are only a three ‘splode leap away? Where are the girders and fans and why are there HUGE blue arrows pointing the way? I think Aperture Science sabotaged the place for giving cake away to everyone.

Yummy, yummy cake. I will give it to the developers on one instance, they did do the right thing by numbering the hidden cakes. I really enjoyed looking at one I had found and realizing I had missed a hidden item. All in all, Lee is right; Splosion Man is a bomb. A dirty bomb that everyone should avoid without hesitation, unless you are an avatar customization whore and cannot do without the unlockable clothing that is promised. If that is the case, then by all means, get this game.

Don’t forget to buy yourself a virtual purse though, so you and Lee can match.