Two years after the release of 2009s red-hot 'Splosion Man comes a slender female with all of the 'splosive ability of her predecessor. Aptly titled Ms. 'Splosion Man, this bundle of erratic pink kinetic energy has most of 'Splosion Man's old tricks, but brings some new ones to the table as well. Is a coat of feminine paint and a pair of new shoes enough to make Ms. 'Splosion Man feel like a brand new experience? Your move, Unreal.
Let me get this out of the way immediately: Ms. 'Splosion Man is not a game targeted toward females. Don't be fooled by the overwhelming amount of hot pink hearts and pastel colored stars. This game will kick your ass across its +60 stages if you don't bring your A-game, be you a miss or a mister.
Not much has changed since 2009. You move with the analog or directional pad, and 'splode with pretty much any other button on your controller. You're still allotted three 'splodes before you gas out and are forced to recharge, so there is a bit of thinking in play as you ration your 'splodes to get you past any given obstacle. Explosive barrels litter the Big Science facilities, a 'splode on one of these will not only help you to reach your destination, but also refresh your 'splosive abilitites so the little lady can continue to burst her heart out.
This game is hard, folks. I'd like to consider myself an able-minded gamer, as I tend to get through any challenge that's thrown at me with relative ease, and make it look good in the process. There were some stages in Ms. 'Splosion Man that the designers deemed as 5-6 minute par times, where I took close to 18 minutes to complete. That's a lot of dying! In comparison to a platformer like Super Meat Boy that requires lightning fast twitch reflexes, Ms. 'Splosion Man requires some of that, along with memorization. Coupled with the rarity of checkpoints, you really don't want to die. But you will, and often. After several attempts, I'd finally luck my way through a tricky section of platforming, only to make a stupid mistake shortly after, and have to do the whole thing all over again. Frustrating.
If you happen to get through the stages quickly and safely, Ms. 'Splosion Man is rewarding, and looks good in the process. There are a variety of ways to get around aside from plain old 'sploding: conveyor belts, light bridges, ziplines, flying Jetsons cars, exploding barrels, and rotund women. Options galore! Much of the game is quite linear as you would expect, however there are branching paths in many of the levels which will either net you collectables (SHOES!) or a level exit off the beaten path.
After you've spent the required time polishing off the single player portion of the game, get your multiplayer on. You can play with up to three other lady 'sploders, either online, off, or bring your offline friends with you to create a full party on Xbox LIVE. Multiplayer offers a wealth of new stages with tricky challenges crafted specifically for three or four players. If you're picking up players online, it may be difficult to find a good team of focused ladies, but if you do, things get poppin'. You can also purchase "2 Girls 1 Controller" from the game's store using credits accumulated during gameplay. This allows you to control two misses, one with each analog stick. A healthy challenge for even the most seasoned 'sploder. This mode would probably be much fun for two people as well, each with a half-controller, 'sploding a whole lot and probably dying even more. The crafty gamer will work their girlfriend and a bottle of vodka into 2 Girls 1 Controller somehow.
The bounty of Ms. 'Splosion Man's animations are as enthralling as the lady herself. Her movements range from a 'twinkletoes' move to a flat-footed ice skate. Come to a halt at any time and be entertained by the variety of dances the gal busts out, everything from the Macarena to the Dougie. This chick would definitely serve me on the dance floor.
The stages are very well designed. They're a good balance between length and variety; you wont often see the same challenges more than once. On more than a few occassions, I did manage to lose the bright pink firecracker, as tough as that sounds. Sometimes the camera pans out, the depth of field effect is at max, and Big Science buffoons come crashing into your fourth wall, all at the same time! I'm sure it's all part of the plan, to give the player fits while attempting to breeze through each stage, but it's expletive inciting to die due to distraction as opposed to death from your own mistakes.
The missus is absolutely hilarious during the course of the game. She's a cache of pop culture references, singing the hits from TLC, Madonna, Beyonce and more. And when she's not 'sploding into karaoke, she could be quoting one of many Schwarzenegger films. It's a riot just listening to her babble references with no rhyme or reason, however these highly specific jokes may be wasted on younger or less pop-centric gamers. Hearing her ramble about shoe sales to her imaginary girlfriends, however, is something we can all appreciate.
The music of Ms. 'Splosion Man is a pleasure to listen to. Each world has its own stage music, which is just catchy enough to not have you wanting to shoot yourself in the face after listening to it 20+ times per world. Then there's the ukelele driven Donuts Song you're greeted with upon pausing the game, held over from the original 'Splosion Man. This is easily the best track in the game, again. It just doesn't get old. After playing (and frequently pausing) for a few hours, I spent my night on the town torturing friends with the highly addictive lyrics of "everybody loves donuts, I know I do". Solid gold, man.
For the most part, Ms. 'Splosion Man is more or less 'Splosion Man with a few added bells and whistles. There ain't nothing wrong with that, as it's still a blast to play, and a bitch to complete. At 800MSP, Ms. 'Splosion Man is money well spent for platforming fans.
Buy it: If you like platforming, have a pop-culture fueled sense of humor, enjoy a challenge
Don't buy it: If you're easily frustrated, are too manly for the color pink
The Score: 7 outta 10 Blasters!