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Posted by moonhead on Mar 2, 2011
Explodemon!  (Curve Studios – PSN)

Explodemon! (Curve Studios – PSN)

Explodemon, he explodes more times than me after having eaten a seriously hot vindaloo with several pints.

Having been bogged down in development hell for 5 years for reasons unknown to us at G4A, Curve Studios original exploding games character finally hits PSN. But has it missed the boat after the immensely popular and rather good Splosion Man stole the idea nearly two years ago. Comparisons of the two games are going to happen but if you ask us are not really merited as apart from an exploding main character and both being 2D platformer’s the games in question could not be more different. Especially as Explodemon has far more in common with 2D retro classics such as Super Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man X and Bangai-O than Twisted Pixels title. Whether it scales the heights of these illustrious titles is another question but it sure does give it a good go.

So we know that in the game you play the titular exploding robot Explodemon but why you might ask. Well in the time-honoured video game tradition of slightly dodgy and clichéd back stories you have been accidentally set free from captivity by invading space aliens hell-bent on destroying your planet. Even though you are your planets last and only hope your escape from freedom is not widely greeted with open arms due to your rather unstable and explosive nature. But even though you’re not welcomed as the all-conquering hero you decide to save the day regardless. What little story on offer is told via comic-strip style cut-scenes in purposely bad, cheesy Engrish (And no that’s not a typo.) The script is inspired by the badly translated Japanese games of yesteryear that this game so wants to be. In all honesty though unlike its Japanese forbears where the mistakes were accidental thus making it funny this all comes across as a little contrived and silly, resulting in little humour being found in it.

Graphically the game does very little wrong, it’s a bright colourful world that does exactly what it needs to do. The games anime art styling feels like a pale imitation of the Japanese games of yesteryear but it still does its job. There is also little variation in the graphics themselves with repetition becoming a problem. This unfortunately includes the enemies you face off against with only four or five different types that all behave very similarly.

The sound is competent with the soundtrack suiting the feel of levels and driving you on. The incidental effects also doing their job more than adequately without ever really excelling.

So how does it all play? Admirably, if truth be told and it sticks rigidly to the templates set out by the Old Skool Japanese games it sets out to ape. The only controls you have is walking left and right with the X button performing the explosion and Circle for jump and that’s it, simple. But the simple style of the controls hides a whole gamut of abilities that really you have to learn on your own without a tutorial. Again, nodding its head to the style it sets out to follow. There is a gauge in the bottom left hand corner of the screen that gradually fills, this shows how powerful your explosion will be. If you do not detonate yourself before the gauge becomes full Explodemon will blow himself up. As mentioned this simple approach hides several moves such as a double jump, wall climb, dash and combo explosions.

The level design is of a very high quality allowing you to be creative with the very freeform skill set at your disposal and there are some truly head scratching puzzles to work around to.

In spite of its rather contrived setting and script it’s all rather fun while it lasts but with only 12 levels in total it all ends rather quickly. Despite the difficulty spiking on the last couple of levels Explodemon is, overall a little too simple. Sure there are multiple routes through some levels and a whole load of unlocks but this is all padding and adds no longevity to the game at all. Even the in-game credits you earn  that allow you to buy upgrades for your moves seem to add very little to the gameplay. Yet the games biggest sin is to not allow use of the D-pad to control Explodemon rather than the imprecise analogue thumb stick.

In all it is a sweet trip down memory lane that runs out far too fast. Explodemon is good dumb fun and yours for only £7.99 just don’t go expecting the game to last more than a few hours worth of play.

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