Ms. Splosion Man preview: still funny, still frustrating, still incredibly addicting
I’m convinced that shortly after ‘Splosion Man was released there was a surge of controller sales. Why? Because as fun as it was it was also one of those games that caused a lot of controllers to be thrown in fits of rage. But still we came back over and over again. It drew us in with its humor, its gameplay that was deceptively difficult, and its bargain price. As of year-end 2010 sales for the game were over 390,000 units. Clearly this was a game that, no matter how difficult, appealed to the masses.
Ms. Splosion Man is on track to do the same while addressing complaints from consumers. New to the game is a Super Mario Bros 3-esque overworld that allows players to select their path through each of the game’s worlds. Harder levels are color coded and often not required, meaning those looking for the challenge can have it while those just looking for casual fun can be satisfied too. The game also borrows other elements from Super Mario Bros 3 including secret exits and powerups. It’s a great feature that transforms a linear game into a more dynamic one.
Multiplayer has been given special attention this time around with a semi-public beta now in progress. While overall stability is vastly improved from the pre-patched ‘Splosion Man it still suffers from one major problem: user error. Joking aside this is not a game people should play online without their headsets connected. The difficulty feels amped up this time around which means players absolutely have to coordinate each and every move. The puzzles seem smarter than their predecessors, too. It’s less about adding an extra exploding barrel for each player and more about using what’s around you to get everyone through the level, be it two, three, or four players.
Fighting against the gameplay itself for my favorite feature is the tongue-in-cheek humor. The game is chock full of pop culture references. In the first level of the game alone there were multiple references to movies and music including Predator, The Shining, and the Kelis song Milkshake. Have to sit the controller down? Don’t be surprised if you catch Ms. Sposion Man doing the Macarena when you return. And the humor doesn’t stop at pop culture references. Each time you stop and start moving again Ms. Splosion Man will show a uinique running animation. Just at a quick glance I noticed that she skated, ran ballet-twinke-toes style, and talked on the phone to a girlfriend while jogging. It’s classic Twisted Pixel, and every bit of the humor is enjoyable.
In 2009 ‘Splosion Man was the one game that everyone needed to buy. In fact it’s still that way today. 2011 looks to be the year that Ms. Splosion Man joins those same ranks. It’s funny, it’s smart, and most importantly it’s a total blast to play. In every way it’s an improvement over the original, no simple task. And with the limited beta test underway it’s only going to get better. Look for Ms. Splosion Man in a few months, and in the meantime follow us on Twitter to win a code for the beta test.