"An Explosive Mix of Challenge and Humor"
Having never played any of Twisted Pixel’s games before, and after playing the iOS port of the 2011 XBLA platformer Ms. Splosion Man, I learned this much about the developer: it certainly lives up to its name. As I went about playing as a female humanoid made of explosive energy, the accidental creation of careless scientists, the game gave me a twisted amount of opportunities to blow up those scientists (among several other things) and reduce them to cartoonish skeletons.
The reason I mention this is that your enjoyment of MSM may depend on your feelings towards the game’s wacky and somewhat morbid sense of humor. Oftentimes, the game will require you to deliberately send many scientists to their doom to open up paths and clear stages, all while Ms. Splosion Man herself fires off comical pop-culture references from the long-gone 80s and 90s. If doing things like taking control of a fat lady and exploding out of her like a cannonball in the name of comedy leaves an unpleasant taste in your month, you may want to look elsewhere.
However, if you care to look past that aspect of Ms. Splosion Man’s humor, you will find an incredibly strong platformer. Gameplay-wise, MSM is built entirely around the heroine’s ability to "splode", which is basically a jump that blows things up in the process. The trick is that you can only do this three times in quick succession before you need to recharge.
Despite this simple one-button (or, in the case of the mobile version, one-tap) design, the game manages to make the most of it by throwing you into some seriously challenging levels. Even early on, MSM can prove taxing, hitting you with obstacles and stage-sections that give you little room for error. You often find a section that will require you to flip switches and trigger explosions in quick succession to keep yourself from falling to a death that’s one ill-timed splode away.
Sections like these highlight the great sense of speed that the game has. With rare exceptions, you’re always in motion, running, sploding, riding on zip lines, wall-jumping, flying out of cannons, leaping from platform to platform. The brisk pace is one of the game’s greatest strengths, and it helps keep things interesting even when a particular stretch of level is proving a tad too difficult (and that should happen a lot).
Adding challenge and replay value to Ms. Splosion Man are the new achievements that the iOS port brings. Each stage comes with multiple tiers of achievements to beat (such as blowing up a certain amount of scientists or beating the stage’s ghost run), with each completed set of achievements awarding you with a large of amount of tokens. The tokens can also be used to buy items (another iOS addition) that can alleviate the game’s difficulty by enhancing Ms. Splosion Man’s speed, giving her more (or stronger) splodes, or even skipping a particular section of a stage.
This use of tokens does have one considerable drawback, in that it is also used to unlock levels. Instead of levels unlocking after clearing the ones before, like in the XBLA version, MSM for iOS requires you to use the tokens to buy them separately or in map packs. What makes this even more frustrating is that it forces you to replay old stages in order to proceed, unless you beat all of each stage’s achievements (which quickly becomes quite the tall order) or buy more tokens via conveniently-placed in-app purchases.
While the annoyingly heavy-handed IAP incentive may turn off some, it certainly doesn’t ruin the game. If you're willing to stomach Ms. Splosion Man’s twisted humor and considerable difficulty, you will most likely find yourself enjoying the solid platforming, brisk pace, and sense of accomplishment upon exploding your way through challenging stages. Most likely, you’ll have a blast playing MSM (pun wholly intended).
GameDynamo's Score for Ms. Splosion Man (Mobile)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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