Released within days of Comic Jumper and for one twelfth of the price, Explosionade from Mommy’s Best Games offers similar gameplay but with none of the tedious repetitiveness of Twisted Pixel’s title.
The easiest way to describe Explosionade is as a score-attacking 2D platformer. The left stick moves the character around, and the right stick is used to fire. The right trigger fires a grenade which will stick to a surface and when it explodes, blows up anything near it. The game’s only real problem comes with the mapping of A to jump and the left trigger to the shield, making jumping and shooting together nearly impossible. But with completely customisable controls, these can be swapped over and it should be the first thing you do. Once remapped, the game controls perfectly and you always feel in control of the action. The shield (until it overheats) absorbs all enemy fire but also functions as a kind of ball, allowing the player to bounce around the level to reach gold or enemies on higher platforms.
Gold restores health, but essentially is worth points, and a score attack game is very much Explosionades ethos. There are forty levels, each of them short and it doesn’t take as long as an hour to get through them all, tackling them alone or with a friend. The goal of each level is simply to exit through a hole at the bottom, whether you kill the enemies has no effect on completing levels. However, completing them and getting maximum points is another matter. There’s a bonus for completing the level within thirty seconds, and another for killing all of the enemies (or none of them). The game is a balancing act between killing all of the enemies or just speed-running to the exit, and the great level design means that different levels are suited for different strategies. The levels are small and contain much of the same artwork, but they never feel samey.
Online leaderboards are available if you’re signed in with a Gold Xbox Live account and while it’s not the most ideal system, its the best that Microsoft allow within Indie Games, and already the leaderboards are well populated.
The game is undoubtedly Mommy’s Best Games in style. The graphics and sprites are all wonderfully hand drawn, and there’s a great level of feedback when you shoot enemies which makes killing them satisfying. Bosses especially look stunning and are massive, getting bigger as they take more damage until they fill the screen. They’re difficult to take down as well, and expert use of the shield is essential to beating them and progressing to the next stage.
If its just a 2D platformer youre looking for, Explosionade isnt for you. Its too short. If you have even the slightest temptation to score-rush though, it demands multiple playthroughs and the difficulty levels ensure that there’s plenty to do once the game’s been beaten. Importantly, the game itself plays brilliantly, the small levels mean it never grows tiresome or gets boring, and plotting the best way to tackle each one to get the maximum score is fun and addictive.