Review: Ms. Splosion Man (Switch)

Although at this point people are starting to bemoan the deluge of indie games that has flooded the Nintendo Switch’s eShop, the indie tide is good news for those of us who don’t tend to own multiple platforms. More to the point, it gives a second chance to games that perhaps got missed first time around – like Splosion Man, which was first released for Xbox Live Arcade back in 2009. Although weirdly, it’s that game’s 2011 sequel – Ms. Splosion Man – that’s getting a re-release on Switch, with the original apparently being skipped over.

Still, that makes sense in a way – like the Pac-Man sequel Ms. Pac-Man, Ms. Splosion Man is more refined and robust than its progenitor, and much quicker to grab your attention.

The game actually begins where Splosion Man ends, with the hero of the first game being captured by the mad scientists that begat him – only for said geniuses to accidentally create another vicious and explosive being with a scattershot sense of humor. And a big pink bow on her head. And a penchant for shoes. OK, so she’s kind of a stereotyped female character. But with all the hilarious one-liners, quirky sense of humor and solid platforming, who cares?

The single-player campaign is played out through 50 stages, across which Ms. Splosion Man wreaks havoc and makes painfully dated references. Rather than jumping, our heroine gets about by exploding, which launches her in whichever direction you choose. You can follow this up with two more mid-air pops – and this makes up the entirety of her move set. But this simple set-up works because the game challenges you with ingenious stage design rather than complex controls. The developers do a great job of gradually setting up new environmental hazards for you to learn how to deal with, before sweeping the tutorial rug out from under you and kicking your ass.

Thankfully, the game never feels forced or unfair, with most solutions becoming clear after a couple of tries. And Ms. Splosion Man brings a lot of replayability in the form of goal times. Blasting through a level at top speed not only makes you look cool as you string together moves, but also gets you really studying the level design, looking for optimum paths and tricks like a speed runner.

What elevates Ms. Splosion Man beyond initial expectations is the fact that along with the beefy story mode, there’s another 50 levels that you can play cooperatively. The simplicity of control is still there, but you now have levels that require players to share explosions, alternate hitting switches and pull off synchronized moves. It’s a lot of fun, but there can be a little frustration at times because you’ll be redoing things more often – two players means twice as many chances for mistakes. Most of the time the screw ups will illicit giggles, but after the tenth time of waiting for your two-player partner to get through the same obstacle, the fun kind of dips.

In addition to the extensive co-op mode, Ms. Splosion Man harbours a bevy of unlockables, from achievements to concept art to weird videos that defy description. These are certainly worth going back to previous levels to unlock.

Ms. Splosion Man is Twisted Pixel’s greatest game, so it seems a no-brainer that it’s their first release on Nintendo’s indie-hit machine. It’s rare for a developer to make something that is not only blindingly funny, but also solid to play – and chock full of content to boot. With all this fun on offer, Ms. Splosion Man is one of the easiest Switch indie recommendations I can make.

Ms. Splosion Man is available for Switch, Xbox Live Arcade (hey, remember that?), PC and iOS. We reviewed the Switch version.

Disclosure statement: Review code for Ms. Splosion Man was provided by Twisted Pixel. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.

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