All is not well at the start of Explodemon! The planet of Nibia is under attack by the alien Vortex, and all seems lost. There is one hope though; the Guardian robot Explodemon who is currently in stasis. The only problem is that Explodemon is ever so slightly nuts and malfunctioning badly; plus the last time he was released he caused a great deal of chaos. Rather than release him, Nibia’s elder decides to just admit defeat; better that than have Explodemon on the loose again. At that moment a Vortex missile hits the stasis unit, damaging it beyond repair and releasing Explodemon from his slumber. Oh damn…
I guess the best place to start with Explodemon! is the quirky humour. It’s certainly an acquired taste and for every one person who adores it, there will be someone else who is left completely cold – for the record, I thought it fantastic. The story is fleshed out via a number of comic book style cutscenes, and they are packed with character. Nothing Explodemon says makes any sense as he struts, quips and poses his way through levels – think ‘Zapp Brannigan’ after downing twelve cans of Stella.
One of the funniest running themes throughout the game is the fact that the planet’s residents are genuinely terrified of Explodemon, to the point where they don’t know whether to root for him or the Vortex. One of the best examples of this is the first time Explodemon comes face to face with the game’s main villain ‘Absorbemon’. Having exited an elevator, Explodemon engages Absorbemon in some baffling banter, whilst in the background one of Nibia’s elders can be seen watching in horror, not entirely sure who to run away from. You then see the elder’s hand slowly sneak towards the elevator ‘down’ button as he bashes it relentlessly – desperate just to get the hell outta dodge.
All this would be for nought though if the gameplay mechanics weren’t up to scratch, and it’s here where Explodemon! is just as divisive as its unique humour. The game is a 2D side scrolling platformer with a heavy emphasis on puzzles. The selling point here though is that with the press of a button you can detonate Explodemon which causes him to boost in the air. In addition, the explosions can also be used as an offensive weapon when the Vortex get a bit confrontational (which only happens every ten seconds or so).
It’s certainly is an interesting way of traversing levels, and requires a bit more thought than your average platformer. The height you can boost to all depends on when you time your detonation, as the sooner you detonate the higher you go. Add this to the double-jump that you earn part way through the game and you soon find yourself pinging from place to place.
Timed explosions also form the basis of the game’s puzzles, which generally involve blasting various objects to set locations, or diverting missiles to destroy power supplies. As mentioned earlier though, Explodemon is malfunctioning and at set intervals will explode whether you like it or not. This adds a sense of urgency to some puzzles, as one miss-timed explosion can royally mess things up.
It’s not all block based shenanigans though, as the Vortex have come for a fight. Luckily Explodemon has come prepared, and in addition to his main explosion (which can be chained) he has access to an explosion dash which sees him charge forward and smash through enemies. It’s an incredibly powerful move, and the temptation is there to spam it, but to counter this Curve have made it so that if you use the explosion dash, enemies that you kill with it won’t drop any health – and trust me you will need that health.
Throughout the game you will earn credits, and these can be spent between levels on purchasing upgrades. Explosion strength would be the obvious one to go for, but there are several others you will want to invest in to create a well-balanced character that doesn’t spontaneously combust every twenty seconds.
Overall Explodemon! has twelve levels spread over three worlds. Each level takes between ten and fifteen minutes to beat, although the difficulty ramps up significantly at the end of world two. Whilst the levels don’t look particularly amazing, they are stuffed with hidden areas and a myriad of collectibles that have been placed there to test the hardest of hardcore players. Yes, you can speed run through the game in three hours, but many more will be spent going back through and completing the game fully – which you will have to do if you want every trophy.
As always there are some negative points. I personally would have liked the option to map movement to the D-Pad, as using the thumbstick can feel a bit loose. Fighting the same boss over and over again also gets a bit boring, and although the way you fight him differs, the battles can feel rather swayed in his favour as you spend ages whittling down his health only for him to absorb your health and recover.
- Classic 2D gameplay with a twist
- Quirky humour
- Loads to do
- Loose controls
- Repetition can sneak in
I had much fun playing through Explodemon! The game is an homage to the 16-bit era, and is a reminder of everything I love about gaming. Unfortunately, repetition does sneak in, and the boss battles are a little disappointing, but if you are a fan of the genre you really should check it out.