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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review: Explodemon (PSN)

If there's one thing that the recent Mega Man games have proven, there is legs left in retro-style platformers. As is the case with Explodemon - a game that is so simple on the surface that virtually anyone can pick it up and play, but before they know if they find themselves deeply immersed within a challenging but rewarding game.

Man, this blows


From the start, you're going to be enjoying this one. Explodemon has a silly story to explain its existence, told to great effect through comic-style story panels. It's a pointless story, and you'll largely forget it once you start bounding around, but in setting the tone, it's highly effective.

In most senses, Explodemon is a straightforward platformer. There are hidden little secrets to find for the dedicated, but otherwise it's a fairly straightforward trip from one end to the other. There are some obstacles spaced throughout each of the 12 levels in the game, but as puzzles they're not greatly taxing.

But that straightforward structure is saved from tedium by Explodemon's gameplay gimmick - one that works so well we're hoping this game gets a sequel and then becomes a franchise. In short - Explodemon is an unstable robot. Every so often he needs to release pent-up energy in the form of a explosion. That explosion can be triggered manually (which resets the timer) or is forced to occur when the timer hits zero.


This guy has a explosive temper on him


This gimmick serves two effects - firstly, it forces you to move through the levels at a reasonably rapid pace. While the time-triggered explosions will rarely cause the loss of life, the very act of having a counter in the corner, ticking away, will create a psychological need to move onwards. Because of this, Explodemon feels like an action-heavy, fast-paced game, even when that pace is actually manufactured rather than organic.

The second effect is that the regular timer gives the game a rhythm that is quite compelling. While the 12 levels are over quicker than we would like, that's more because we were completely immersed within the precise timing and heartbeat this game has. It's a genuinely original concept, and it works wonders.

The explosions also act as Explodemon's attack method, so killing the game's various enemies also falls into this rhythmic pattern. It can get hectic while you wait to charge up to perform an explosion while enemies lie in wait all around, and its exciting stuff.


Having a blast here... yeah, sorry about the puns, they're terrible, I know


Unfortunately it's not all good with this game, which is why we're hoping for an improved sequel. The music is completely forgettable and bland, and the enemies, while not a major focus of this game, feature some very dull design. And while the level design itself is fine, the settings are a little too generic for a character this creative.

And of course, being a fan of this game is predicated on the fact that you're a fan of retro games. It's not a platformer that will appeal to the modern sensibilities.



Review: Explodemon (PSN)
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