This game is sick in every sense of the word. When I began playing the supposed lively and energetic game 'Splosion Man I was expecting a fast paced thrill ride. What I got was a poorly designed, lack luster annoyance that made me frustrated and even disgusted.
|Who, why, what?|
The 'Splosion Man character has apparently escaped from his containment centre and is running amuck in a science…place. Now I’m not asking for a huge back-story but I would like some context. The game begins with him bursting out of his room and everyone responds in surprise, so how was he even able to do that now? As I ‘sploded’ my way through huge and relatively complex levels I was constantly curious as to why this place is even set out like this. You’d think it would simply be a futuristic science facility but instead they have these gargantuan rooms with randomly placed platforms, pits, lasers, missiles and other objects that launch Splosion Man to ridiculously precise locations. The items and devices you interact with jarringly change from trying to kill you to helping you move around. At first I thought it was a testing room for Splosion Man himself, but that can’t be right because many situations require you to slam, burn, pulverize, electrocute and crush the scientists blocking your way. The scientists are either stupid or suicidal.
|Killing people is fun.......|
There’s a major issue I have with 'Splosion Man. It attempts to have this goofy and lighthearted aura about it but the things you do are unbelievably mean spirited. I was thinking it would be a very clean platforming experience that would be fun for the whole family, but this may be one of the most violent games I have ever played. You read correctly; “'SPLOSION MAN IS ONE OF THE MOST VIOLENT GAMES I HAVE EVER PLAYED.” Your character is a fast moving, fast talking maniac who murders dozens of scientists with glee and enthusiastic lunacy. The puzzles you advance through
include situations where you cause living, breathing people to die in horribly violent ways. I was particularly unnerved by the final boss where you’re essentially torturing a scared, helpless creature. It doesn’t matter how crazy or humorous you make the playable character, that won’t make me forget the time that I used a scientist as a human shield to block lasers that sliced off pieces of his body allowing me to get to the next meaningless puzzle. Also when scientists die their bodies vanish and are replaced with several pieces of meat, which makes the game even more disturbing. It’s like suffocating someone by submerging their face into a cake. It’s goofy, but the person is still dying.
The puzzles themselves start off fairly well, giving you approachable situations with a challenging yet fun learning curve. However, as each stage gets more complex they only get more infuriating. For one thing; some of the rooms, especially boss battles, are so huge that you can barely see your character scampering around the bottom of the screen like an insect. There are moments in the puzzles where the camera pulls out too far and your glowing character doesn’t stand out enough. It halts the flow of the game when you have to stop for a few seconds just to make sure where you are which, in most cases, causes you to either fall off the edge of a platform or get crushed by a piece of the puzzle that automatically activates when you enter the area. Splosion Man is trying to be a quick and hyperactive game but because many of the puzzles invite you to die so often and you have to get your bearings in every part you’re in, you’ll be constantly stopping and starting just to prepare yourself for a particular jump you have to make. Unlike Limbo, the checkpoints in 'Splosion Man are too far apart so if you die in or before a particularly hard spot you’ll have to furiously trudge or effortlessly move your way through puzzles leading up to it. This was especially infuriating during one moment where I had to deflect spinning spiky balls back at the robot that shot them. Every time I shot one back I fell to a lower platform where I had to carefully navigate my way back so I could deflect another ball. One false move and I would fall, die and have to restart the whole thing all over again. Rarely is Splosion Man genuinely fun. Most of the time it’s either frustrating or boring.
|Getting higher and higher is very fun and should|
have been done more often.
The controls are simple but for a game called Splosion Man it really lacks any ferocity or might. The only way you can move, aside from frantically running left and right, is to explode onto the sides of walls and nearby objects that launch yourself around the area. It’s fairly fun jumping up to a green canister that will propel you an arbitrary distance ranging from 10 metres to 500 metres, but because the direction and velocity of your launch is determined by the game it quickly becomes a boring display in which you push a button to see yourself uncontrollably go somewhere else. They use these propelling objects to great effect, placing them in strategic locations allowing you to shoot yourself across large open areas and up narrow pits. Although, it’s a shame that they had to constantly resort to using these items to help your character move around. You’re playing as a frenzied lunatic of pure destruction yet your explosion ability is so bland and unexciting that you’ll always want a propelling item right next to you to get you around faster. Sometimes, out of boredom, I made myself ‘splode’ over and over but all the character does is just burst up about 5 feet in the air with as force and might as a firework you see from a very far distance. You should have been this immense power that destroyed and terrorized everything around him but instead you’re just using the scientists’ stupidly convenient equipment to get around which makes your character seem pretty worthless.
|It burns it's hands, eats them and then you blow it up from the|
inside as it cries out in pain.....FAMILY FUN!
The puzzles, especially near the end, are controller crushingly frustrating. As I mentioned before, earlier puzzles are simple enough to work with the explosion mechanic but later stages become so massive and complex that dying once may force you to never play the game ever again. I came close to doing that. When you’re not simply shot to your next area of a puzzle, each platform requires such a precise and well timed explosion jump that there are moments when you would think you have to go somewhere else to complete some other random objective before returning. The camera also pulls out and pans too slowly as you move so you’ll constantly have to either pause or attempt to get yourself back to the starting point before you get crushed or shot. I downright despised the boss battles. Almost all of them move and attack in crude, repetitive and sometimes unpredictable ways and because you always respond with an explosion or by jumping out of the way, the challenges are consistently boring and/or impossibly difficult.
|Dying was the best way of getting through quickly.|
The explosions serve as your life source which is an interesting concept but not used to its full potential. You can only explode three times before having to recharge by getting to a flat surface, not sure how that makes sense. If you finish a third explosion, lasers, missiles and stupid robots can kill you instantly. Because most of these obstacles appear and attack faster than you can react to them you can either keep on the ground or get thrown around, so like everything else, it’s either boring or annoying. Sometimes even dodging attacks doesn’t do anything because spikes, acid and other unexplained stuff are almost always located around the turrets and robots’ areas so when you get hit, it doesn’t matter if you survive because you’ll just fall into these contraptions and die instantly. This wouldn’t be that much of a problem if the explosions you did made you go higher or if you could move swifter and less ‘floaty’. There were moments when I pushed the ‘right trigger’ which caused 'Splosion Man to explode and die. If I died enough I was given the opportunity to skip to the next stage. After a while I always skipped.
'Splosion Man may be the game that pisses me off the most. I have rarely been so frustrated at a game since level 3-3 in Lost Planet 2. Any fun that I ever had with 'Splosion Man was utterly destroyed and replaced with repetitive and annoying gameplay. With a poorly handled and unexplained premise, badly designed and overly complex puzzles, a lackluster character and horribly violent events, Splosion Man is something I will gladly leave in the dust.