Developer Twisted Pixel original Splosion Man was a great and inventive platformer when it first released on Xbox Live Arcade. Now, its sequel is out on Nintendo Switch, Ms. Splosion Man, following the Pac-Man franchises naming scheme. Is the Missus indeed the better half of the series, much like Ms. Pac-Man?
Ms Splosion Man is a simple one-button platformer, but don’t let that simplicity fool you. This is one difficult game, however, in all the ways a platformer should be. You control movement with the analog stick and ‘splode’ (explode) with any of the face buttons. The splosion acts as your jumping attack and other than move is the only thing you can do. You can explode up to three times without touching the ground, sliding on a wall, or hitting power couplings.
From these simple mechanics Ms. Splosion Man blossoms into 50 levels with variety in every level and a new gimmick introduced at a steady rate. Some of these gameplay changes perform better than others, and can range from thrilling barrel exploding sequences to cannon blasting much like the Donkey Kong series. Platforms will be switched on and off when you step on them and many other platforming elements are incorporated into the base gameplay. One of the more annoying gimmicks are having to use these purple balls and bouncing them between two or more slots. But, other than that instance the gameplay was fun and felt very responsive.
All of the levels are well designed and the best ones will send you careening out of control from barrel to cannon, hitting switches, and exploding from point A to B with a flow reminiscent to the best of Sonic the Hedgehog games. Every stage has great pacing and have you continuously moving to the end before tedium sets in. This continues to Ms. Splosion Man’s length, which is long enough to give every experienced platformer enjoyment without anything becoming stale.
There is no Life system present and this is much appreciated due to the frequency of how many times you will die. Dying is a big part of Ms. Splosion Man, but for the most part it’s entirely your fault and I felt like I was becoming a better player the further I progressed. Along with its classic foundations, there were a few instances of archaic level design where you’ll be expected to predict what’s coming next or demonstrate pinpoint accuracy that you may not be able to comprehend at first.
Some of the levels would swap between challenging and fun, to overly frustrating because of multiple changes in one area of with the sequencing of events. For example, one room has you try and dodge multiple lasers while juggling the aforementioned purple balled, and trying to dodge enemy fire. None of these instances were enough to ruin my enjoyment, as you have infinite lives to help persevere and there is basically no waiting in between death and starting again.
Graphically, the art direction of Ms. Splosion Man is reminiscent of older 2D side-scrollers with vibrant neon colors and a cartoony world. The 2.5D backgrounds and character animations really shine and all of Ms. Splosion Man’s sass is on full display to comical effect. Every level is busy with barrels, lasers, scientists, explosions, and there’s really never a dull moment. Rarely does this backfire, but sometimes you may lose Ms. Splosion Man as she blends in with the backgrounds and the chaos happening on-screen.
The music kept with the frantic action-packed platforming appropriately, but it was the lyrical tracks that stood out. Every inch of content is infused with Twisted Pixel unique brand of humor and if you’re into it, then every level will offer new laughs. Ms. Splosion Man herself will soulfully and excessively prattle as she travels through the levels referencing songs, movies, and other pop-culture entertainment. Multiplayer is also included with Ms. Splosion Man and was a blast with up to four players. This makes the proceedings even more chaotic, but there are 50 more multiplayer levels that take advantage of more players and it shows.
Overall, Ms. Splosion Man harkens back to the golden age of platformers successfully, while also infusing new elements and plenty of humor. Lively characters and worlds with tight gameplay will remind you of why platformers are fun as many of the classics we remember from back in the day. While it may share some of the same archaic flaws of other titles in the genre, Ms. Splosion Man comes highly recommended to anyone looking for some platforming greatness.