I Like Watching Things Go Boom…

…especially when they turn into steaks and ham when done so.

FROM THAT SMALL WHITE AS-CLOSE-TO-OWNING-A-PC-AS-HE’S-GOING-TO-BE-FOR-A-LONG-TIME IN RYAN’S BASEMENT: I have had a raging love fest recently for the XBox Live Arcade, most likely started by Target’s sale on the point cards (buy a 1600 point card and get a $5 gift card). This trend continued with the release of ‘Splosion Man, an Arcade exclusive release and the first release of the Arcade’s Summer of Arcade 2009 celebration-type-thingie.

Taken from the description on Xbox.com: Fools they were, to tread where knowledge should stay forbidden. For what emerged was not a man—it was Splosion Man™. “And all who saw him were ‘sploded, for he was the fire and they were but meat.” Able to ‘splode himself at will, Splosion Man launches his way through levels, an uncontainable force. From Twisted Pixel Games, developer of the award-winning The Maw, comes a single- or co-op multiplayer experience that ‘splodes like no other.

As stated so succinctly above, the game was created by Twisted Pixel Games (who also created The Maw, which I am now going to have to check out) and was unleashed upon the world with a bang on July 22nd. The game is an action platformer, but more on the Bionic Commando side of the spectrum, but in this game… the main character doesn’t have a robotic arm, he just explodes and propels himself through the air blowing up robots and scientists in the process!

D'aw, well ain't that cute...

Yes, you play a character that explodes. That’s it. He is a completely demented character that looks like he’s made of lava and is voiced by the great Sonny Strait (yes, the Sonny Strait who did the voice of Kuririn in the Dragon Ball franchise and Maes Hughes in Fullmetal Alchemist). His only motivation in life is to blow shit up and that’s all he will ever do. He gets a great joy and satisfaction out of his calling, and that’s probably all someone needs in life. ‘Splosion Man is not the kind of character who can drive a narrative, he’s very one dimensional, but I just can’t help but love him. Whether he’s spouting out lines from Schwarzenegger movies (my favourite being “Get to the choppa!”), giggling manically while chasing a scientist into a pit of acid, or getting depressed when running through a cloud of icy mist and loosing his powers… only to get them back after leaving the mist to continue to spread his wave of destruction!

What really surprised me about the game was how both incredibly simple, yet complex it is. The controls basically amount to run and explode. All of the face buttons make you explode, that’s it. Exploding is your jump, wall jump, attack, and stopping power. You have three explosions before you have to recharge, and it can be done so by either standing still or sliding down walls (sort of like a match). The whole experience so delightfully simple, but where the game really shines is with the additions made to the formula with every level. There is always something new in each level, whether it be a new enemy (my current favourite being a robot that shoots blades out of it’s back that you have to knock back at it), a new obstacle, or a new thing to help you (such as flamethrowers that instantly recharge your blasting power).

Where the game really shines, though, is it’s humour. I’m both wondering, and kind of hoping that the game will reach meme levels on the internet like Portal did. The game even has a song created for it, and it is so bizarre that the only way to describe it is for you to hear it:

The song loops over and over while you carry around fat scientists to use as shields from the deadly lasers. I dare you to not get the song stuck in your head after hearing it. I dare you. The game’s achievements are also brilliant. Most achievements are completely pointless, such as Resident Evil 5 with it’s achievement for the completion of every freaking level or the newest Prince of Persia where it seems that you get an achievement every 5 minutes of play, but the achievements in ‘Splosion Man are hilarious! Lets look at the list of them (if you think that reading about the achievements and how to get them constitutes a spoiler, skip ahead):

I will first get the more traditional achievements out of the way:

You’re the Best Around!: Beat single player.

A Little Help From Your Friends: A nice Beatles reference, but fairly standard. You get it by beating the multiplayer campaign

All Hail the Splode King: Once again, standard. Beat the single player campaign on Hardcore difficulty.

Eventual Destruction of a Galaxy: Easter egg achievement.

Modern science with either save the world or kill us all (Alternative caption: Back off man, I'm a scientist)

Here’s where they start getting interesting:

Get Over Yourselves: This is when they start getting interesting, you have to watch the entire credits and indulge in the creator’s self-indulgent fantasies in order to get this one.

Get Them Out of Our Schools: This will probably please any incredibly religious readers (though I sort of doubt any of you would read this blog with any sort of intensity), but here is the actual description of the achievement: “Eliminate 10 scientists and stop them from spreading their filthy lies.” I’ll give you a moment for this to sink in…

Lay Off the Caffeine: play like your super-hyper little brother would play, namely by exploding almost every second you can.

Master of Controls: This one is making fun of the simplicity of the controls, mess around with the control menu.

Not a Portal Reference: The funny thing is that it acutally is a Portal reference. Collect all 47 pieces of the cake that is not a lie.

Omaha Steaks?, Delicious!: This one is like the “Get Them Out of Our Schools” achievement and is accomplished by killing off enough scientists to create 5000 pieces of meat.

Only Ghandi Would be Proud: This is probably the hardest achievement to get, you have to beat a level without killing any scientists. Good luck.

Anyone up for a barbeque? My treat!

Sugar High: Exactly like the Portal reference, but for multiplayer!

The only other item of merit I need to speak about are the bosses, and to put it simply, they’re special. I’m talking short-yellow-bus-special, but they present a bit of a challenge and are nevertheless funny. But anyway, if you like platformers, you own a 360, and you have a spare $10 lying around the house, pick up Splosion Man. You’ll have a fun time, and like most good games on the 360, it’s better than Halo. (Let the hate mail commence.)

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