I must confess I haven’t held up my end of the bargain when it comes to reviewing games; in fact I’ve only reviewed three since I started the blog, and I’ve certainly played a fair few.
But I just don’t get moved enough, often enough by games that I play to actually write about them.
Well, I’ve been moved tonight – and not in a particularly good way – to write a quick piece about Ms ‘Splosion Man on Xbox Live Arcade.
What’s The Game?
It’s a side scrolling 2d platform/puzzle game where you have to navigate your explosive character through a various laboratories, trying to escape.
Why Am I Moved To Write This Review?
Ok, I’ll lay it out for you.
I consider myself a ‘good gamer’. I like a challenge, I like to feel like I’ve got my moneys worth and I don’t like things to be too simple.
‘Splosion Man had it right. It started off pretty simple so you could get the basics and as you went on, it got more and more challenging.
I liked that.
But the sequel just doesn’t have the dynamic right. I’m only a quarter of the way through the game, and the difficulty level is already way in excess of its predecessor. And the thing about it is that it combines being massively difficult with having no real challenge to it at all.
You remember back in the old days when you got three lives and from there you had to try to complete the game. If you collected stuff along the way you could get more lives, more continues etc etc. That was a challenge. I remember being proud of finally completing Double Dragon, Super Mario Land or Rainbow Islands. The achievement was that you felt you’d earned the victory.
But this is completely different.
Instead of being progressive and making you feel like you’ve actually shown ability to win, this is just a hard slog.
Why? Because you have unlimited lives and a variety of checkpoints. There’s no question about whether or not you can complete the game, because you will; there’s no mechanism for having to start again. Victory comes by whether or not you’re lucky enough to have pressed the A button at the right time or whether you just decide a section is too difficult and skip it entirely.
If – like me – you don’t see the point of skipping sections of a game you’ve paid to play then you have to just repeat the same bits time and time again until you finally manage to get through it. I’ve read reviews from people saying that they ‘loved it’ because it took them 100 attempts to get past a particularly difficult area of the game, but to me that’s not a reason to love it.
To me that’s just frustrating. After 35 goes trying to work through a section where I had to trip 3 gates and combine a double jump to coincide with a bomb I’d dropped from a roof onto a moving floor, so I could spring onto two platforms and finally onto another roof, I just felt annoyed. And that annoyance didn’t translate to a sense of achievement when I finally completed it, but rather relief combined with more annoyance at how stupid the puzzle was.
I think of it like this; older games of this sort worked in a way where if you were good enough, you could complete it without losing a life. This game is impossible to complete in one life because things move so fast that once you’re passed one bit, you’re instantly thrown into the next bit where you have to die at least twice to get a feel for what’s going on.
So you spend all that time trying to get past a bit only to immediately die again once you do, and so you have to repeat the bit that you’ve finally worked out how to get beyond.
And rinse and repeat.
And what’s even more frustrating is that the character of Ms ‘Splosion Man moves from being mildly amusing with her constant droning on about Spice Girls songs and what-not, to really grating by the time you’re 15 minutes in to the level.
So yes, you might say that this game has earned its scathing review.
Will I Finish It?
I’ll probably carry on with it to see if it gets even harder, but it’s one of these games where I certainly won’t be engrossed in it and want to play it all in one go – I don’t think my mood would cope.
No, this game is just annoying.
Indeed, if it was possible for a game to be autistic, this is it.
And when I finish it, I won’t feel a sense of achievement, but rather a sense of relief.
I don’t think that’s what games are supposed to be like…