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Preview: 'Splosion Man


I remember the day that Twisted Pixel, developer of the Xbox LIVE Arcade game The Maw, announced its title 'Splosion Man. It was earlier this year on April 1.

"Let's just make a game where stuff blows up," Creative Director Josh Bear was quoted as saying in the press release. "Yeah, lots of ‘splosions... like a guy made out of ‘splosions, and he’d be like ‘splode ‘splode ‘splode! And then things die.”

“Yeah, but not like regular dying. He’ll ‘splode people, and they’ll blow up into big steaks and ribeyes and stuff,” added Art Director David Leung. 

It was April Fool's Day. We were sure it was a joke. It wasn't. 'Splosion Man is set to hit Xbox LIVE Arcade this summer. Hit the jump for some hands-on details.


'Splosion Man (Xbox LIVE Arcade)
Developer: Twisted Pixel
To be released: August 3, 2009

Beyond the foundation of “let’s blow stuff up” decided early on my Twisted Pixel, there’s a story somewhere in ‘Splosion Man. Unfortunately, we don’t know too much about what it is – the game features a single player “story” type mode, but we were only given access to those levels as Time Trials.

But here’s the story, the best we can piece together: Scientists created a man – an exploding man – who gets loose, and explodes things in an effort to escape the testing facility. And that’s really about it, and as far as we’re concerned is enough justification for creating a game that features an exploding man that makes things explode into chunks of tasty-looking steaks.

‘Splosion Man will feature 50 single-player levels, and 50 of the multi-player variety. The three levels Twisted Pixel gave us access to let has have a good taste of what to expect from the final, single-player experience. For all intents and purposes, it’s easiest to classify the game as a platformer, with players using ‘Splosion Man’s skills to get from point A to point B in shortest amount of time.

The volatile main character’s skill set is unsurprising. He can explode if you press the A button on the Xbox 360 controller. Press B will make him explode, as will the Y button. It may come as a shock for you to hear that pressing X will also -- you guessed it -- cause him to explode. It’s pretty straight forward. He does have one other hidden talent – holding the right trigger will cause him to self-detonate if he’s stuck, sending him back to the nearest check point. (Note: That’s also exploding.)

Outside of moving ‘Splosion Man back and forth with the left analog stick, and using the right analog stick for limited camera movement around environment, that’s about it. It’s an interesting concept, a platforming game without a jump button; that’s where all of the exploding comes in. Running through the lab environment, if you run into an object like a table, exploding will not only destroy the object, but launch ‘Splosion Man up in the air. If that table is a human scientist, said scientist will explode into many chunks of steaks and rib-eyes (and earn you a cool 100 points).

Despite his name, ‘Splosion Man’s powers aren’t unlimited – he only can only explode three times before having to re-heat. While the game has no HUD, you’ll see ‘Splosion Man cool down between each explosion, the fire of his body diminishing to reveal a charred human figure. The exploding power can be recharged on the ground, or on walls. The wall recharge will allow you to do things like the staple of platforming, the wall jump, and the exploding in mid-air will allow for a triple a jump.

The games earlier levels ease you in to the game, with static, easy to navigate platforms with little-to-no obstacles outside of relatively harmless (and soon to be chunks of meat) scientists. Navigating from left to right is simply, although the lack of a jump button proper takes a bit of getting used to – come to terms with the fact that the explosion is launching your character in the air and timing it properly is a skill unto itself. In many ways, the basics of the platforming has a feel that’s not dissimilar from the popular indie platformer, N+.

Later levels, however, are bit more complicated. Platforms start to move, you’ll have to use exploding barrels to reach new heights. In one level, you’re tasked with jumping off of a wall to release an exploding barrel, and then to time your jump to hit the object, allowing you to reach great heights. As the levels become more complicated (and certainly trickier), the game adds in electric traps, spikes, and – although we didn’t encounter them – killer robots.

Like The Maw, ‘Splosion Man has its own unique look that’s sure to quickly become associated with Twisted Pixel’s digital download work. The style and humor is quirky, the gameplay an innovative twist on a known genre, ‘Splosion Man looks like it’ll be (pun alert! duck!) a blast to play when it hits Xbox LIVE this August.

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Nick Chester
Nick ChesterFormer Editor-in-Chief (2011)   gamer profile

Editor-in-Chief @ nick at  more + disclosures


Filed under... #Previews #Xbox 360 #Xbox Live Arcade



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