Based on what is playable so far, Ms 'Splosion Man is shaping up to be one of the most fun XBLA games released this year, as well Twisted Pixel's finest game to date.
Ms 'Splosion Man is one of the funniest games I've ever played. Before the Twisted Pixel logo is on screen, players will be treated the best Beard Engine introduction to date. Not only that, but Ms 'Splosion Man features a video tutorial in the opening single player level that not only will teach new players how to maneuver in the world, but will have them laughing the entire time.
The first single player level in the beta was on display at PAX East 2011. The first part is the intro to the game and is set up to teach Ms 'Splosion Man's mechanics, but quickly turns into a boss fight that ends with an amazing Predator reference. Once it is completed, the game shifts to the level select screen which has become an interactive world menu, much improved from 'Splosion Man's boxes with numbers in them.
The second level is pretty difficult for one so early on. Ms. 'Splosion Man will leave the facility and platform on jet cars and be flung out of tubes-like devices. I had trouble navigating these sequences because sometimes the tubes are automatic and sometimes I had to aim them. The game doesn't do a great job of teaching which tube does which when I first ran into them. The jet car platforming was also difficult due to the amount of bright colors on the screen. I was constantly losing just where I was when jumping from car to car.
The multiplayer once again takes up to 4 players and tasks them with co-operating to reach the end of expansive areas. The co-op experience is more streamlined this time around. It is a lot easier to get into and out of games and there is a notification on screen when someone is queued up to join in at the next checkpoint. Like 'Splosion Man, co-op over Xbox Live can be frustrating when your teammates are bad at the game, refuse to cooperate, or don't have headsets. With the right teammates, co-op is a blast.
As for the game's protagonist, Ms. 'Splosion Man is amazing. She will often quote pop songs, especially from Beyonce, and movies. Her running animation will often turn into faux-skating, and sometimes she will enact a fake phone call where the only audible words are about boys and shoes. I'm sure some will think that the character is a bit sexist, but I think she's hilarious.
I personally cannot wait for Ms 'Splosion Man's official release. The people at Twisted Pixel make damn fine games and are great at crafting worlds and characters. Ms 'Splosion Man looks like their best work yet.
Also, "Donuts, Go Nuts" plays at the pause menu.