Game Music, Reviews

‘Splosion Man ‘Splodes Our Hearts (Review)

August 3, 2009 | | 7 Comments Share thison Facebook ‘Splosion Man ‘Splodes Our Hearts (Review)on Twitter

‘Sploding onto XBOX Live Arcade to kick off “Summer of Arcade” is Twisted Pixel’s ‘Splosion Man. This little gem has caught the attention of gamers everywhere with its surprisingly substantive package of challenging gameplay, artfully zany presentation, and irresistible protagonist. I absolutely LOVED this game and am happy to report that it is in no small part thanks to its composer, Joshua Mosley.

A relatively small game whose premise it is to ‘splode oneself off of walls and onto evil scientists (turning them into various deli meats) would probably not be served best with an 80-piece orchestral sound (i.e. Shadow of the Colossus, Killzone 2). So, what did Mosley do in his score that made our ears and hearts ‘splode with joy?

Click the jump to read on!

The character of ‘Splosion Man is a gleeful lunatic. Chasing scientists with his hands outstretched like a 7 year old imitating an airplane, ‘Splosion Man is clearly the most contented video game character I have ever seen. He makes Kirby, Yoshi, and Pikachu out to look more brooding and stone-cold serious than Altair and Kimahri on their worst day. Mosley instantly captures the essence of the mischievous fire man with minor-key, big-brassed, cymbal-heavy, spy thriller-like themes of danger and fun you might find in an updated episode of Get Smart or remix of a Henry Mancini piece. To add to this, Mosley makes good use of male and female vocals (generally on “oooh” or “aaah” sounds) to add to the feeling of danger. After all, ‘Splosion Man is a tale of escape and victory over one’s captors.

Though the score is musically sound, it never does too much. In this case, it is somewhat welcome as the game grows insanely difficult in the latter stages. In addition, ‘Splosion Man himself is always making some kind of hilarious noise to express himself – a more theme-oriented score (i.e. Gears of War 2) may have taken away from this aspect of the character and caused distraction. It is possible for some less proficient players (not I, of course… I mean it takes lots of people an hour to finish a level whose target time is under three minutes, no?) to be on one level for an extended amount of time and, thankfully, these pieces loop rather seamlessly with no aggravation or annoyance to the player.

Boss battles are scored with low brass and are generally heavier on the vocals. These tracks are the only ones in the score that border on sounding truly threatening – once again, matching the atmosphere. Besides these few exceptions, all the tracks have a very similar feel to them and are all pretty close to the same tempo. In ‘Splosion Man, this is hardly a criticism as the situations on the screen do not vary enough for the score to suddenly change its tone.

With all respect to Joshua Mosley, this score may not be at the top of my iTunes playlist like other, more motif/theme-oriented scores may be, but it serves its role of enhancing the mood and gameplay exceptionally well. The game’s developers owe a lot to Mr. Mosley for the game’s success in creating a unique and wholly original experience. I look forward to the sequel.

Have you all ‘sploded yet? Well, you are definitely going to soon as Original Sound Version is going to have an entire feature devoted to Joshua Mosley and his score of ‘Splosion Man in the days to come!

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