Twisted Pixel wowed arcade users earlier this year with The Maw: a 3d platformer in which you led a loveable purple mouth around a strange planet and helping it eat things. It featured amazing graphics (for an arcade game), fun and intuitive gameplay and loveable main characters. This trend is continued in their latest arcade outing, ‘Splosion Man, one of the most fun arcade games I’ve played this year.

‘Splosion Man is a 2.5d platformer in which you play as an escaped experiment, the ‘Splosion Man, as he “‘splodes” his way throughout fifty single player levels. Pretty much every button on the controller causes your character to explode violently, propelling him upwards like a jump command. You can explode up to three times in mid air and off walls without having to recharge, which you do by landing on the ground. Various objects in the levels can enhance your explosions with different effects such as boosting your jump height or firing you in a specific direction. The exploding mechanic works really well, is quite a lot of fun and very satisfying to use. The puzzles that revolve around it aren’t too difficult to figure out but can be rather challenging to execute. They’re more a challenge of reflex and timing than of wit which is just fine by me. They ramp up in difficulty and insaneness as the game progresses and vary considerably, even if the goals don’t.

Multiplayer consists of two to four player co-op through a separate batch of fifty co-op themed levels, both online and local. If ever there was a game that required teamwork it’s this one. Puzzles involve simultaneously hitting multiple switches (the number of which will change to match the number of players), synchronising jumps and explosions, holding a door open for your friends and so on. Coordination is the key, and if you don’t have it you won’t progress. Fortunately the game provides a countdown timer function mapped to the left trigger, which helps immeasurably for timing synchronised jumps and such, and even when you do screw up you’ll be having too much fun to feel frustrated. This mode, along with hidden collectables and achievements, adds considerable replay value to an already beefy game.

The ‘Splosion Man himself is one of the wackiest videogame characters I’ve come across in a long time. He runs around like a raving lunatic, laughing, screaming and babbling incoherently, all the while exploding the panicking scientists into various hams and other cartoony meat bits. The animations are hilarious and light hearted and the game is a joy to behold. The ‘Splosion Mans glowing form also serves to indicate his explosive charge which is handy and also shows excellent presentation design.

In short, ‘Splosion Man is one of the finest XBLA outings to date. For the equivalent of €10 you get a game that is unbelievably fun, alone or with friends, and packed with a hundred levels (and possibly more in the form of DLC). The only other game on the arcade that can match this one in terms of content is N+ (which you should also try) but in terms of character and personality there is really only one man: ‘Splosion Man!

(Sorry about that last line)

Hardcore – 10

Core – 10

Casual – 10