The Fast and the Fiery-ous.
In this seemingly never-ending cycle of prestigious – and not so-prestigious – older games being re-released for modern platforms, if anyone told me that Ms. Splosion Man – an Xbox 360 downloadable title, released in 2011 and developed by Twisted Pixel Games – was on the cards, I would have called you a both a liar and somewhat delusion. Yet here we are, 8 years later, playing an Xbox Arcade darling on our dearly beloved Nintendo Switch. I’d say weirder things had happened, but then I’d be the liar.
I’m certainly not knocking the opportunity to revisit this much beloved, yet forgotten, gem though. Much like how Ms. Pac-Man was far superior to her male counterpart, Ms. Splosion Man takes the core principles of the 2009 original and builds upon it in substantial ways. While you still explode as a means of gaining both momentum and altitude, being able to chain a maximum of three explosions in a row before needing to touch back down on the ground to recharge, the environment in which you partake in your explosive antics is far more complex and diverse, enabling a greater sense of accomplishment when you eventually figure out the string of rhythmic eruptions to get you from point A to point B.
And what a sense of accomplishment that is. Whilst the difficulty never quite reaches the heights of Super Meat Boy, another renowned Xbox Live Arcade classic, a myriad of challenging hurdles prevent this from being just a colourful walk in the park. Momentum is, as with most platformers, the key factor in deterring whether you succeed or fail a particular obstacle, and the vast majority of the 50 levels at hand always play with expectation by introducing variables – such as explosive barrels that propel you forward – to not only add some much needed distinguishable variables between locations, but also to add to the aforementioned difficulty.
Luckily, the character shown throughout the entirety of Ms. Splosion Man is, quite frankly, staggering. Where its peers – such as the forenamed Super Meat Boy – utilise various means to keep gameplay enjoyable throughout the most frustrating of times, Ms. Splosion Man successfully uses humour and a general light-hearted tone to great avail. Throughout the titular characters movements and the eccentric poses she pulls as she flies around the level, to the copious pop culture references found in each level, Twisted Pixel have made this a celebration of sorts, not only embracing the chaotic nature of the world they’ve created, but instead permitting it to unabashedly thrive in the wanton mayhem. That seems to be at the very core of this games DNA, though; To embrace the insanity and revel in the enjoyment that loosening the grip on normality can so graciously afford.
Ms. Splosion Man
Ms. Splosion Man rightfully deserves to have another chance at success, and certainly deserves to not be so quickly forgotten about. Tight controls, bundles of character and great multiplayer mayhem is to be had throughout, and I can’t thank Twisted Pixel enough for having the gumption to release this upon us once more.