In Play

Twisted Pixel's 'Splosion Man passes the torch in attention-deficit anarchy to the Ms.

In Play

Ms. 'Splosion Man

Twisted Pixel Games
Xbox 360, 800 Microsoft Points ($10)

If local developer Twisted Pixel does one thing well, it's going over the top, be it by injecting humor into its games, pulling character inspiration from the Animaniacs casting couch, or using actual co-workers to play roles in its wacky and reference-laden worlds. Its back catalog of downloadable titles for Xbox barrages the senses and consistently puts smiles on players' faces. The best foil for Twisted Pixel's strengths was 'Splosion Man (a character actually made out of explosions), with the torch now being passed on to his female counterpart in attention-deficit anarchy, Ms. 'Splosion Man. The difference between the two? The latter loves all things girly and has a bow on her head (like another video game Ms. we all know).

Ms. 'Splosion's controls haven't changed from her predecessor: You get three explosions that can be used to destroy stuff, launch yourself or others, destroy stuff, turn scientists into cuts of meat, and/or destroy stuff (do you sense a theme?) before needing to recharge. Basically what jumping is to Mario – a mode of movement and a weapon – "'sploding" is to Ms. 'Splosion Man. One-hundred levels split between single- and multiplayer modes challenge players to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. That's about it. Along the way, your protagonist will do the "Single Ladies" dance, sing Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?," spin like a ballerina, collect shoes, call on Girl Power, and gab on her cell phone at breakneck speeds, all without missing a single 'splode. If the controls weren't so simple, the rapid-fire humor and, of course, explosions would be overwhelming. It's often part of the challenge to differentiate what's useless shrapnel flying around the screen and what's necessary to get to that next platform. And getting to that platform can be very, very challenging. There are a few instances when the game calls for a level of precision that the controls don't consistently offer, but those times are rare. Usually the combination of practice, muscle memory, and quick 'sploding reflexes are all that's needed to progress.

The game's surprising difficulty might be frustrating for people looking for a more casual title to share with the family, but like all Twisted Pixel games, it's obvious how much fun the developers had making Ms. 'Splosion Man, and the feeling is contagious. Not every moment is laugh-out-loud hilarious, but I defy you to keep from smirking when a manic, prancing woman made of explosions reminds you with an off-key singing voice not to go chasing waterfalls.

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Ms. 'Splosion Man, Twisted Pixel, 'Splosion Man

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