In 2009, a masterpiece side-scrolling platformer on the Xbox Live Arcade came out called Splosion Man. It was a game about a man who can explode himself, and that special characteristic was used to create original and fun gameplay. Little known to everyone, on the very same day Splosion Man was announced, another game featuring a self-exploding character was ALSO announced, and it was called Explodemon. Crazy weird coincidence right there.
It took a very long time to come out, but we can finally play it. Read on and see what it’s all about!
Developer: Curve Studios
Publisher: Curve Studios
Date of Release: February 8th 2011
Platforms: Playstation 3 (PSN)
Genre: Side-scrolling platformer
Rated E for everyone
What’s good in the game
The gameplay here is really good. While it might seem like a Splosion Man rip-off on the surface (though it’s not, since they were both announced on the very same day), it plays completely differently. It’s a side-scrolling platformer, and you use the character’s ability to explode to solve puzzles and jump to platforms. But both games are very different in their mechanics.
Explosions have various uses: pushing away blocks, destroying blocks, making floating items drop to the ground, boosting your jump and making you run faster. Rather than having a limited amounts of uses for the explosions per jump like in Splosion Man, here you have a meter that increases overtime and, when it’s full, you can explode (if it’s full for too long, you’ll explode automatically). As you traverse the levels, you can find items that will make the explosion meter charge faster (they stop working when you leave the level, though there are some permanent ones), and charge items which bring up your life meter on the left side of the screen (killing enemies). The life meter doesn’t only show how much life you have left, but also the level of your explosion powers, so the more health you have, the stronger your explosions.
Other than exploding, you can also jump, double jump (you have to jump after an explosion for that to work) and mega man slide, which can lift blocks and enemies in the air, and you can wall slide. The platforming is actually sort of similar to the Mega Man X games with less precise control, though the explosions add a bit of control.
The game has a high emphasis on puzzles. There’s various blocks, gates and switches, and enemies with different effects. You have to use your various skills to open up gates, kill enemies, destroy blocks and various other things that will bring you to the next screen. In addition to that you can find hidden passages through walls/ceilings that will bring you to areas where you can find special items, usually requiring you to go through a hard puzzle.
Through the levels you pick up money, either hidden in blocks or in enemies. Money can be used to upgrade Explodemon, increasing the power of his explosions and various other stats, so Explodemon doesn’t stay the same through the game.
Each level also has 10 Explodicons hidden in them, which will require solving tougher puzzles and really exploring the levels to find them. I haven’t actually found all of them on any single planet, so I don’t know what the reward is, but clearly it’s gonna take a lot of time to find them all, or figure out the puzzles that protect them.
The level design is amazing. The puzzles get really creative with the different gameplay mechanics, and with various gimmicks powering every level, like areas where you can’t explode, or areas where you automatically explode with no control over it, having to deflect missiles into switches, shooting blocks or leading enemies on scales, and various other things, even the final level managed to have unique gameplay elements. Every level brings something new to the table, even the last level, and the game keeps being varied throughout.
As for the challenge… It’s not a super hard game, but it’s a good example of proper progression in difficulty curve. The game starts of quite easy, with a few tutorial-like levels, and then the game starts bringing in more complex puzzles, stronger enemies, more powers to experiment with, and, by the time you reach the later levels, the game is actually able to kill you fairly frequently with death traps, time-based puzzles and more, but is never hard to the point of frustration. And you have infinite continues which brings you back to the beginning of the room you died in, so it never goes overboard with the difficulty.
What’s average about that game
I quite like the presentation, but it’s nothing really impressive. The game is colorful, the character design is fun and wacky and the animation is simple and fluid. On the other hand the visual design for the levels is very bland and repetitive, basically every level within the same planet looks exactly the same, with very few unique elements per level, if at all. There’s little variety.
On the music side of things, the game sounds fairly good. Unlike most modern games, this game actually sounds like video game music. It’s usually fun and energetic, sort of techno-ish, fitting with the overall mood of the game. The music is completely forgettable though, you won’t find yourself humming any of the tunes here, or even remember them at all.
What sucks about the game
I have a big problem with the boss battles in the game. It’s a glaring flaw, and one that could have been easily fixed. What’s the problem? Well, there’s only one boss in the whole game. And you fight him around 6 times in the span of 12 levels. Absorbemon (yeah, that’s what he’s called) isn’t a boring boss to fight, but it gets boring by the third time you fight him, since the strategy never changes. There’s different block placements, or sometimes no blocks at all so you have to hit him with missiles, but it’s still the same thing every time. He never gets harder to fight either. It’s very disappointing, and it could have been remedied fairly easily by, you know, designing more bosses. The game WAS 5-6 years in the making, you’d expect a bit more.
The game is only 12 levels long. Don’t get me wrong, the levels are GREAT, each featuring unique new gimmicks and interesting puzzle solving and various other challenges in addition to hidden areas and items to find… They’re really fun. But only 12? That makes the game incredibly short. Unless you plan on completing the game 100% (which will take a while), this will last you an evening or 2 at most.
Explodemon is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re more of a retro-style gamer. The platforming and puzzle-solving is top-notch, and it’s just really fun to play. The fact that there’s only one boss battle being repeated 6 times is annoying, and it really could have gone with more levels, but that doesn’t make the game any less worth trying out.
If you plan on playing through 100% of the game you have a good long challenge ahead of you. Otherwise, it’s still worth it since the gameplay is so well done.
Pros and Cons
- Great gameplay
- Good puzzles
- Great level design
- Solid controls
- Good difficulty curve (and things like the time trials are a HUGE challenge too)
- Only one boss battle repeated 6 times
- Not a lot of levels
The Save Factor
The game costs 10$ on the PSN, and it’s definitely a good value considering the great gameplay and level designs.
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