After two years, Twisted Pixel has realized that it was not good that the ĎSplosion Man should be alone; thus, they have made a companion fit for him. Iím not sure if this process involved any ribs, but given ĎSplosion Manís penchant for meat, if there were, they were probably barbecued. The main difference between ĎSplosion Man and Mrs. Splosion Man is that she is pink and she has a bow on her head. I know, get right out of town. Oh, and she doesnít have an apostrophe in her name. Is that difference just as annoying to read as it is to type?
Donít let her cutesiness fool you though, this is one tough mama of a platformer that will have you questioning why you are screaming so loudly at your television.
Ms. Splosion Manís got the charm of an overly energetic ten-year-old girl, but she isnít entirely made of sugar and spice and all things nice. Sheís mainly the embodiment of hit girly references from the eighties, nineties, and today; a chatty Cathy spewing forth movie and TV lines and song lyrics nearly non-stop as she fidgets about skipping and breaking out dance moves. And I couldnít help but have a smile break out on my face as she manically yelled out catchphrases from Punky Brewster and Dirty Dancing, sang choruses from TLC and Cyndi Lauper, and mimic the dance steps of Beyonce and Carlton Banks. Sheís a walking girly stereotype (the hidden collectibles in the game are even shoes) but sheís such a truly outrageous character that itís a fun time even when her quotes are frequently reused.
Well, most of it is fun, I think. A couple new implements such as zip lines and Donkey Kong Country-style launching cannons offer new twists on the otherwise unchanged triple-splosion gameplay that Splosion Man introduced. These new mechanics and doodads fit nicely into the structure, but like her dialogue, the levels become repetitious. Visually, there is some novelty as you actually break out of the lab setting in this game and thereís an insane amount of clever variety between each of the gameís stages. Itís just that Ms. Splosion Manís levels are constructed to murder you. Iím not so sure Iíd go so far as calling the layouts unfair, but I may have yelled out something along those lines after a series of frustrating deaths. Unless you have psychic powers, there is no way to predict what the game wants you to do with split-second timing. For instance, itís not unusual to miraculously make your way through twenty consecutive jumps between walls, moving platforms, and mid-air explosive barrels only to discover that you should have launched yourself left instead of right because thatís where the next off-screen barrel was. So itís back to the beginning of that sequence with the knowledge that you must now go left, only to find that once youíve gone left that you land on a platform where a laser wall zooms across and instantaneously kills you. What, you didnít know you need to quickly run right after you landed? Back to the checkpoint to go through all those jumps again! Even the best of levels become repetitious if you have to play through them billions of times. Clearing each level is an incremental process of not only mastering the puzzle and precision platforming elements, but in memorization as well. I also found that with so much going on, Iíd sometimes even die in sections that I knew simply because Iíd lose track of where Ms. Splosion Man was due to the silhouette she leaves behind after sploding.
While the original ĎSplosion Man had some of this, it just seems like the difficulty bar has been raised in the sequel. Itís not so much figuring out where to go next to work through a contraption of a level, but rather figuring out where there isnít a bottomless pit, pool of acid, or laser wall ready to pounce. Each level can be completed in about five minutes, but the distance between checkpoints can be excruciating and it wasnít unusual for it to take me fifteen to twenty minutes on stages after the halfway point in the game. This made me pass by a lot of areas I knew contained hidden shoes, simply because I didnít want to do a section over again. That said, most of the time clearing a level of Ms. Splosion Man carries a great deal of satisfaction, but sometimes that satisfaction felt more like relief to me.
If it sounds like Iím overly down on the game, I assure you Iím not. I just want people to know what theyíre getting into. There were certainly several times where I was close to throwing a controller, but mixed amongst those are incredible moments that are some of the best pure platforming that youíll find anywhere. Above all, this game is of course more ĎSplosion Man and there is a ton of content here including secret exits, hidden shoes, and even a separate co-op campaign. Throw in the ridiculous extras in the form of music videos and live-action shorts that Twisted Pixel is famous for and itís amazing what you get for ten dollars. Plus the final boss seemingly dares you to not grin widely and forgive every instance where the game wronged you.
Outstanding | Very Good | Fair | Poor | Awful
Recommended Buy Price: $10.00
Current MSRP: $10.00
Ms. Splosion Man was provided for review by Twisted Pixel. I completed the single player campaign in 11 hours accumulating 3 out of 12 Achievements for 25 GamerScore. Ms. Splosion Man is available exclusively on Xbox Live Arcade.