Review: Explodemon! (PS3)

Posted: March 1, 2011 in PS3, Reviews
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Explodemon! for PS3

Is It Pronounced Explode-demon? Or Explodey-mon?

It doesn’t really matter how you pronounce it, Explodemon! because it has hit PSN like a (avoid explosion pun) bag of hammers. From the time you start it up you’ll notice a pretty definite Mega Man influence – the titular Explodemon could almost be a palette swap of the Blue Bomber. However, unlike Mega Man‘s ability to use powers from downed enemies, Explodemon’s power is to…explode! This is the central game mechanic, and exploding is used for several purposes – jumping higher, dashing, clearing blocks and, of course, damaging your enemies. You’ll also gain a few extra powers along the way, like a slide and phase jump.

The game fits into the retro platformer mold, offering twelve levels of traps, enemies, and malevolent architecture across three planets. There are quite a few puzzles to solve, although they never seem to be much more complicated than “destroy control panel” or “move blocks”. You also fight a small variety of enemies, who all seem to be greenish alien blobs. The enemies do come in a few different sizes and colors, which seems to change the amount of hits they can take. Sometimes you have to defeat a room full of them to get through a door, and other times you’ll want to fight them to refill your explosion power meter.

The game is initially very fresh and fun, but the fun factor levels off about halfway through the game. There are some ideas that are really great and cool the first time you see them – notably redirecting missiles with your explosions – but unfortunately these get to be a bit tedious as the amount of control you have over them isn’t great, and the missile direction seems to be pretty arbitrary. Case in point – one late-game boss battle has a teleporting boss you have to hit with those redirected missiles. I spent about twenty-five minutes on said boss, and it got pretty tedious.

Going Out without a Bang

Explodemon! ReviewTedium aside, probably my biggest complaint with the game is its lack of difficulty, and its lack of optional difficulty levels. I blew through the game in about 3 1/2 hours, and didn’t find it to be very challenging. There are additional challenges like collecting a certain amount of items, but they have no discernible effect on gameplay and exist mostly as self-imposed challenges (or for trophies, if that’s your thing). The game also provides a store, if “pretty easy” isn’t easy enough. The upgrades you can buy are more conveniences than anything – making your explosions wider so you don’t have to get as close to explode something, etc.

The graphics are nice enough, although I wish they were brighter. Most of the levels are dark-hued, and for a game with an oddball anime-esque hero, you’d think they’d want brighter environs. This isn’t a major flaw so much as a letdown. The game would have benefited from bright craziness. Instead it has kind of a subdued neon aesthetic, which kind of works, but could be a lot better.

The music isn’t bad, consisting of pounding techno beats, although none of it is particularly memorable. It’s good gameplay music but you won’t find yourself humming it later.

The one place I will say the game excels is its sense of humor. There are bits of dialogue with citizens of the various planets scattered through the game, and Explodemon speaks entirely in Engrish, and most of it is laugh out loud funny. Everything he says could be an internet meme on its own. This is, to me, the thing that kept me playing to the end, to see what he’d say next.

The Final Verdict

All in all, Explodemon isn’t a bad game by any means, just one that should have been a lot better. It seems to me that Curve just wasn’t that ambitious with it. The lack of options, challenge and difficulty kills its replay value as well. It’s easy to the point that there’s little sense of accomplishment in beating it. I’d only recommend getting it if it goes on sale in the PSN store. There are plenty of funny games available on the PSN (the remastered Monkey Island games, Sam & Max, etc.) and old-school games with superior replay value and challenge (Mega Man 9-10, Scott Pilgrim). Explodemon was a nice try at something fresh yet old-fashioned that ultimately came up a little flat.

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