App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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The original Splosion Man was a fantastic platformer that was pretty much universally loved. Then Twisted Pixel pulled a Ms. Pacman with the sequel by shifting the color palette, slapping a bow on top, and creating a game that managed to completely outshine the original. And now the platforming tour-de-force that is Ms. Splosion Man has come to iOS, completely making a mess of things in the process. I mean that in the best possible way.
With her volatile soul-mate captured, Ms. Splosion Man sets out to perform a one woman rescue. This walking, talking explosion gets around via the usual means (i.e. a left/right virtual slider and a tap-to-jump control scheme) only jumping is actually the result of “sploding.” Basically she can move left and right, and ‘splode up to three times before needing to recharge but there are a number of elements to each stage that add quite a bit of complexity to the mechanics. Elements such as the health bar tying in to ‘splosion energy, so taking a hit means no jumping for a second or two whereas taking that same hit with no juice means a trip back to the last checkpoint.
Ms. Splosion Man has received a fair amount of accolades since its release; all of which are well deserved. This is a fantastic platformer bursting with humor, personality, clever mechanics, devious levels, and even devious-er bosses. And every bit of that awesomeness (aside from the fancy menu screen and a little visual detail from the Xbox/PC version) has made it onto iOS. And then some, as players can safely exit a game partway through a level and continue from the last checkpoint if they so desire, even after closing the game out entirely. The controls are responsive, too, which is good because if they weren’t they could completely ruin the experience.
Thankfully there’s nothing in Ms. Splosion Man’s iOS port that ruins any of the good times, but there are a few notable issues all the same. As I’ve said the controls are responsive but they both have their drawbacks. The dynamic slider is more difficult to use when it comes to precision thanks to the dynamic orientation, and the fixed pad (specifically a thumb on the fixed pad) can actually block the player’s view when the camera is pulled back, which happens often during boss fights and in larger areas. Similarly, because the camera pulls back so far to allow players to see what’s coming, the action can be incredibly difficult to follow on the iPhone’s smaller screen. Unless players want to hold the device closer to their nose, anyway.
Ms. Splosion Man isn’t without its share of porting woes, but the problems aren’t significant enough to ruin any chance of fun. In fact it’s pretty much impossible not to have fun with it.