Friday, November 23

Review: Ms. Splosion Man [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Action platforming is a major staple of gaming, especially on a Nintendo system. The issue when trying to find success on the platform that Mario helped to build is how do you compete? Many have tried to ape a similar style and almost all that have tried that path have come up lacking so the other option is to come up with something a bit unexpected. That’s very much the case Ms. Splosion Man, which not only creates a more puzzle-like action platforming experience but also makes everything happen with a single “splode” button.


While she may be a lab experiment gone horribly wrong who spouts pop culture references on almost a continual basis and gets very excited for shoes there’s something endearing about Ms. Splosion Man. She’s quirky, silly, and the variety in her movement animations imbue her with loads of personality. That pairs well with the almost Rube Goldberg-like puzzles of explosive mayhem she’s faced with in order to progress, blowing up scientists all along the way. New elements and concepts are introduced on a pretty consistent basis and the expectation is that after you’ve had a level or two to familiarize yourself with them you should be able to understand how they fit into the picture.


The game’s action is creative, highly kinetic, and will demand a mix of brains as well as a sense of timing. On tougher stages even as you fail you’ll end up with a sort of muscle memory for finding success. Splode, trigger barrel, time your splode to rocket yourself up, splode off the wall, trigger another barrel, splode to knock it into a scientist, jump down the throat of another scientist, make your way past a laser, splode to launch you out of her mouth. It all comes together but you’ll absolutely need to get down your sense of timing at all phases to proceed.


Of course with so much going on things can get a bit crazy and the degree of challenge can be high. A terrific included feature will actually give you an opportunity to skip the current checkpoint if you’ve been struggling with it for awhile. Granted, for stubborn gamers like myself pity advancement isn’t remotely an option but when the big picture is supposed to be enjoyment I like the fact that this is a choice the game presents when you’re obviously struggling. Aside from the challenge of simply surviving the levels leaderboards could also incentivize repeated attempts to cleanly execute the stage as well.


As a whole Ms. Splosion Man is a brilliantly twisted, splosion-powered action extravaganza. There’s something enormously satisfying when it all comes together and you manage to string a long chain of splodes to success, blowing up scientists and anything else in the environment along the way. The balance of challenge to both your abilities to analyze as well as improvise is pretty substantial and consistently rewarding. While not everyone may dig the constant flow of excited pop culture references (some being pretty dated at this point) I actually found it funny. Regardless, if you’re looking for a game that’s refreshingly different and challenging Ms. Splosion Man is a powder keg of fun, you just need to bring the matches.


Score: 9

Pros:
  • Creative, silly, and kinetic action
  • Many stages have puzzle-like qualities and require planning
  • A consistent flow of new elements are added throughout
  • When you’re struggling with a specific section the game gives you an option to skip it

Cons:
  • The constant flow of pop culture references may be a bit much for some people
  • Really enjoyed the boss fights, would have liked more of them