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'Sploding Straight Into My Heart

'Splosion Man is a wonderful hearkening back to the days of video game yore. Not the yore where you had to play Mega Man 2 or Battletoads or Contra and memorize things like boss patterns and enemy and powerup locations. No, this is a hearkening back to the days slightly after those days, where video games were still hard and still mostly in 2D, but also actually thoughtfully designed. The bridge between extraordinarily difficult and normal person difficult was being built.

As a slight aside, it's interesting to note that people loved series like Super Mario Bros., or Sonic the Hedgehog, but when talking about them their difficulty generally never comes up (Super Mario Bros. 2 being the exception). Mega Man's claim to fame seems to be almost entirely centered around how brutal the series could be. Maybe I'm wrong since I've never actually played a Mega Man game (I never had a Nintendo Entertainment System in my youth and now I'm a mostly grown man who prefers not to shout obscenities at his screen and throw his controller at the ground), but if nothing else the difficulty level of those games is certainly a focal point.

'Splosion Man, made by the same studio who made The Maw, reminds me more of a game like Vectorman, one of my all-time favorite platformers. The similarities between the games aren't massive beyond the fact that they are both platformers. 'Splosion Man can't shoot anything and Vectorman cannot 'splode. Vectorman is more focused on shooting whereas 'Splosion Man is largely about navigating the levels with your exploding ability. However the simplicity of both the mechanics and levels, combined with 'Splosion Man's half-baked story (a requisite for any mid-90s platformer) and enjoyable always-on soundtrack makes it an extremely enjoyable experience (double so if you lived through the mid-90s era of gaming).

'Splosion Man isn't going to win any awards or push any genres forward. What he will achieve is something pretty cool though, and that's enjoyment. There's just something about an exploding science-experiment-gone-wrong that makes you want to smile. Figuring out how to explode at the right time in the right place and then stringing a couple together is quite satisfying. The goofy feeling of being a kid again is something I imagine Mega Man fans felt playing the latest sequel. It's the very nostalgic feeling of "they don't make 'em like this any more". It's a very grandpa thing to say, but it's certainly true. For better or worse, games like 'Splosion Man are few and far between, but I'm glad someone out there is still making them.
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