When everyone involved with a project clearly loves it, it shows. Soulless cash-in movies and games are everywhere, and then there are labors of love that just radiate polish. I come here to praise 'Splosion Man, not to 'Splode him.
"A platforming/puzzle game with a heart of gold (and explosives)" is the phrase that best describes 'Splosion Man. But here's another look:
Jenkins swiped his card and the airlock hissed open. He stepped in and steeled himself for the rush of nitrogen-rich air pushing down on him from the vents above, smelling slightly of ozone today. The buzzer rang and the green klaxon spun, so he pressed the ‘open’ button and stepped into the facility.It's just a great, fun game. Everyone should play and love it. The fact that there are literally two full campaigns, one designed specifically for co-op, is great. The achievements are perfectly done, there's not one but two ending credits songs, live-action setpieces and a delightfully off-kilter design ethic through the whole thing.
He’d been working here for a little under a year, and still had no idea what the entire project’s goal was. His department, the one he’d been recruited from Celsius AB for, was working on new ballistic propellant systems. He imagined it was a top-secret government project, but found it odd he hadn’t met with any G-men to get his Secret clearance renewed.
The whole building was just a little strange – very high ceilings, long hallways to nowhere, strange L-shaped dead ends that required you to call a liftjack just to get to the area you needed, but the pay was outstanding and he was free to work in an environment that rewarded results instead of incremental advances tempered by safety precautions. He liked that about this facility.
What he didn’t like, was Dinkelman. That corpulent leviathan was trundling towards him even now, a bearclaw in one hand and a clipboard in the other.
“Huh heh, Jenkins what are you doing down here?” he said, an errant crumb tumbling out of his mouth and onto his white smock, where it settled on top of a fold.
“I need to talk with Abernathy about a theoretical emulsifier for my project. Is he in his office?”
“He’s around. Think he went in the break room. We got a new air hockey table!” Dinkelman was never one to talk shop when he wasn’t at his desk. Jenkins pushed past him and followed the glowing blue arrows to floor 1-13’s office wing, glancing up at the mounted smartgun as it trained itself on him. Security was a top priority here.
Abernathy was in his room, standing next to a large lever. Jenkins rapped twice on the blue force-field to catch Abernathy’s attention and the red-bearded scientist, eyes covered by a pair of slitted view-goggles jerked and looked over, pulling the lever to lower the force door and let Jenkins in.
“Ahh, Jenkins,” Abernathy said. “How good to see you today. How are things down in 2-3?”
“Not bad. The acid baths seem to be tempering the propellants the way we want them to. It’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about. There’s a system subroutine that’s acting up and –“
Jenkins cut his sentence short as the floor rumbled slightly. Both men looked around for the source; subsonic vibrations were not uncommon, though it usually meant something had gone wrong somewhere and that there would be an announcement shortly. The two men turned their heads and listened, but the sound had stopped.
A moment later, though, the doughy scream of Dinkelman echoed off the walls, along with a high-pitched whine of the smartgun spinning up. The two men listened in horror as Dinkelman was apparently shredded by the smartgun’s caseless ammunition tearing into his flesh, and the screams were getting louder – as if Dinkelman was actually advancing on the gun’s position in spite of it barking fire at him. The screaming finally stopped, and Abernathy lowered his head. Jenkins followed; even though he despised Dinkelman professionally, he was still a human being.
There was a loud report, followed by two more from below, loud enough to spook Abernathy into raising a second, closer force field locking himself in with the lever and computer terminal. A bright glow came from the nearby junction, getting brighter and accompanied by an unconscionable cackle. As Jenkins turned in horror, the true purpose of the facility became clear – the munitions, plasma field research, augmenting intelligence programs, it all fell into place as the monstrosity came spinning over the lip of the column.
They were building a living bomb.
The thing - Jenkins didn’t know whether to call it a man or not – ran directly at him. Jenkins could feel the heat coming off its body, black Kirby dots crackling throughout its frame and giant optical receptors looking like two frosted bunt cakes turned on their side resting atop the pile of flames. He turned to pound on the blue force-field.
“Abernathy, you monster! Let me in! I’m out here with this…this creature!”
Abernathy shivered visibly and pointed at something directly over Jenkins’ shoulder. The heat was unbearable, but Jenkins managed to twist his torso and turn his head enough to put his eyes level with what could only be described as the creature’s mouth, gaping open with white textbook-sized square teeth.
It leered at him, the heat melting Jenkins’ pass-badge to his lab coat, and uttered a single word.
Graphics: Awesome. 'Splosion Man looks great, and the scientists are adorable. 4.
Sound: Better than amazing. Between the song about pastries and 'Splosion Man's Daffy Duck impersonation, you couldn't ask for more. 5.
Controls: The mappable controls from the menu are a highlight. 5.
Tilt: Completely endearing from start to finish. 5.
Overall (not an average): Tendrils' Top Pick.