Downloadable game offers some explosive fun

Xbox owners looking for a fun diversion from the deluge of shooters and sports games on the platform should look no further than the quirky puzzle/platform/social experiment game “‘Splosion Man.”

You play an explosive science experiment has broken out of his containment and is running amok in the same laboratory in which he was created. Rather than jumping, the main button causes “‘Splosion Man” to, er, ‘splode in a given direction.

‘Sploding near lab technicians results in a splatter of meat chunks to scatter like so much microwaved potato. Murdering lab techs is necessary to progress in the game and is all in good, cartoony fun.

There are 50 single player levels and 50 multiplayer levels, each about 3-4 minutes long. It’s clearly a game of trial and error, though, and takes a few runs through each level to time the explosions right.

The character’s manic disposition and his insane ability to make everything around him explode makes him the most original character introduced this year. When you start running down a corridor, he will start making crazy noises akin the classic cartoons and throw his arms wildly in the air.

Each level is a timed run on a 2D plane of corridors and large areas to explode broken up by boss battle that felt like a diversion from the main game. The checkpoints are thoughtfully placed so that if you get a cheap death, you can start right where you entered the explosion zone.

Counter-intuitive to the premise, as long as you keep a level head about this game, you will have a blast. Like any precision platformer, it is prone to inducing rage quits, but the simple joy of exploding around a stage and inadvertently lighting other things on fire is just amazingly fun.

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“‘Splosion Man” starts as every game should: slow and steady while you learn the game, but after the first boss battle, the game’s difficulty climbs rather quickly. Cooperative multiplayer only adds to the difficulty – getting one “‘Splosion Man” to hit tough jumps is a bear, but getting four of them is insane.

“‘Splosion Man” is one of the best downloadable games I’ve played this year. Throw in a manic character that is actually likeable and not cliché, “‘Splosion Man” is definitely worth the 800 Microsoft Points.