Friday, July 31, 2015

Elephants bounce?

Is 'Splosion Man a genre?

Simple controls, move fast, collect things. More of a sub-genre of standard two dimensional platforming, if anything. I bring up 'Splosion Man because I believe that it and its sequel are just about perfect in the go fast, collect things niche. There was one button, it made him 'splode, and that was it. Maddeningly difficult at times but never complicated. There was a light at the end of the tunnel through all the dark sections and it was holding a sign that said 'GET BETTER.'

I bring up 'Spolosion Man because Tembo is very similar. It is about going fast through a level and collecting things, the difference being that at every turn it is one piece too complicated. 'Splosion Man 'splodes. Tembo jumps, dashes, crouch dashes, rolls into a ball, bounces and sprays water. The commands for some of these overlap. For example, pressing X on the ground dashes and you want to be dashing most of the time. Pressing X in the air rolls Tembo into a ball and shoots him towards the ground at a 45 degree angle. If the button is held when in ball form he bounces (badass elephant and all). Here is the problem: if you press X a split second early when landing a jump you bounce instead of dash.

The difference is not small. In fact, making this mistake was the cause of most of my deaths and it could have been solved by either mapping the ball attack to another button or eliminating it entirely as its soul purpose seems to be a sly reminder that Sega is involved and that Sonic used to be a thing.

There is also too much to collect. Ten people per area to rescue, no problem. A large number of enemies that must being killed to unlock future levels, superfluous. Peanuts that must be collected to get more lives, archaic. If Tembo runs out of lives the level must be started over, check points be damned.

Excuse me, but lives? What is this, the 90s?

Tembo himself certainly looks badass and the way most of the world crumbles when he runs through it is very cool. The difference is that when 'Splosion Man killed me I knew it was entirely my fault. The level design, the controls, all of it was nearly flawless. I died over and over again last night to a boss because I couldn't tell where Tembo's hitbox began and ended or because I went bouncing around the room when I just wanted to dash.

It's close to good. Very, very close. But a great name can't cover all its sins.

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