In Twisted Pixel’s $3 Ms. ‘Splosion Man for iOS, you star as an explosive molecule that has come to life. She has the personality of a hyperactive Barbie doll with an extreme penchant for shoes… and blowing up all the boy scientists she finds. Like any good escaped lab experiment, your goal is to break free and cause general mayhem on the way out.
Twisted Pixel is the development team behind Ms. ‘Spolsion Man, a game company that’s no stranger on the Xbox Live Arcade circuit with the entire ‘Splosion Man series and other titles, including The Gunstringer. However, Ms. ‘Splosion Man is the developer’s first foray into the mobile game market on the iOS platform, as a universal app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Ms. ‘Splosion Man pretty much plays out like any side-scrolling platformer, except the twist here you don’t jump, you ‘splode (or explode, if you want to get technical) into the air. Tapping on anywhere on the screen will let you ‘splode up to three times before you have to touch a surface again to refill you charges. Meanwhile, left and right movement is handled by pair of virtual buttons on the left side of the screen.
Despite some early concerns about virtual touchscreen controls, I found that they actually lend a surprising amount of precision. I had no problems pulling off dozens of wall jumps and even “threading the needle” through a pair of deadly electric barriers.
Simply put, Ms. ‘Splosion Man is the most intense platformer you will ever play on your iPhone. Getting around via explosive force means you are always zooming about the screen at high-speed. At the same time you’ll have to make split second jumps to avoid falling from the sky, into an acid pool, or any number of hazards. The whole experience is stressful enough to make your palms sweat and throw down your iPhone when you mess up on the very last leg of your perfect run.
When you’re not stringing together acrobatic explosions, Ms. ‘Splosion Man also has platforming puzzles that require precise timing. You’ll spend a lot of time looking at rooms with multiple explosive barrels along with switches that you will have to chain together to get past some kind of obstacle.
Casual gamers beware: Ms. ‘Splosion Man also isn’t your typical quick mobile game. When I loaded up the first level, I quickly realized the iOS version is actually a full port the original console game. It’s full package game with 50 levels set across three worlds, each with a boss battle upon their conclusion.
If you’re worried that this game might be too much for you to handle on the go, don’t be. Each level is designed to be three to five minutes long, according to the times set by the Twisted Pixel team. If you’re more of the learn by trial-and-error type of player (like I am), it’s closer to eight minutes. Thankfully, there are plenty of checkpoints interspersed throughout the game to let you get back to the real world and not miss your train stop.
My only real issue is that it’s really hard to see your character on a smaller screen, like that on the iPhone. Although our heroine is colored in a bright shade of pink that sticks out in the screen, she is so small that I can barely see her at times. It’s especially tough to see you own character when the game zooms way out for some of the larger platforming spaces. If you’re going to play this game on a mobile device, the iPad is your best bet.
An even stranger thing about Ms. ‘Splosion Man on iOS is that the levels stop unlocking on their own after the third. To continue on with any subsequent part of the game, you have to unlock it by spending in-game currency. It’s a shocking move, considering this game costs $3 up front. But, it’s not a complete deal breaker, because you can earn enough in-game currency to unlock everything without having to spend real money—you just have to grind out old levels for challenges to accrue enough coins to proceed.
Alternatively, putting down another $3 of your real money will give you enough coins to unlock almost every level. You can also use these same coins to purchase power-ups that act more like cheats, which let you skip ahead to the next checkpoint or get an extra fourth jump.
Ms. ‘Splosion Man is still the same full game as it is on the console, but almost perfectly ported to iOS devices. New players to the game will experience an engrossing and frustrating (in a good way) platformer full of silly, bearded scientists, way too many lasers, and a comical handful of pop-culture references.