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This retro platformer is like Super Meat Boy or Celeste if you couldn’t jump

Wall jumping in Splodey.
Mad Mushroom
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

What if jumping in a challenging platformer like Celeste or Super Meat Boy was impossible? That’s the idea at the core of Splodey, a new game from Send It Studios and influencer-owned game publisher Mad Mushroom.

A surprise release at June 4’s OTK Games Expo showcase, Splodey is a platformer where players must throw potion bombs to propel themselves forward rather than jump. Clearly inspired by speedrunning-friendly platformers like Super Meat Boy and Celeste, Splodey changes how just one core mechanic works to craft a unique identity of its own. This next week or so is going to be full of surprise launches and exciting game announcements, but if you can take some time away from those to try a new game, pick up Splodey.

A platformer where players can’t jump

Splodey has the pixel art aesthetic and simple story of a retro game. It’s about the titular character, who struggles to make potions that don’t explode at the Academy of Potion Making, so he decides to take down the entire establishment. From there, players are let free to complete four worlds worth of platforming challenges. Splodey can’t jump, though, so it must use those explosive potions to propel itself forward to the portal at the end of each level.

When I picked Splodey up and entered its first world, it felt familiar, yet distinct. Its level design was typically similar to that of a challenging indie platformer, but I had to rethink how I’d navigate it. In practice, Splodey is a platformer with twin-stick shooter controls. I’d use the right stick to aim where I wanted to throw my potion bomb. Then, I would press down one of the triggers to throw it. When that potion hit a surface, it’d explode and propel me forward at the angle at which I’d oriented myself.

Jumping through portals in a Splodey level
Mad Mushroom

Initially, it does take some trial and error to learn the correct way to orient the right control stick; an accessibility option to show a trajectory line of where players will launch themselves could be helpful in a post-launch update. I’d only do little hops with my explosions and slowly bunny hop around obstacles and through a level. Within an hour, I had learned the intricacies of its unique control scheme and could easily do things like wall jump with bombs and build forward momentum from explosions behind me.

Splodey got me to lean and move my controller, hoping it would somehow make me move slightly farther in a specific direction (it didn’t). That quirky control scheme is the main hook of Splodey, although I was also impressed with its level design.

Secretly a puzzle-platformer

Before too long, many of Splodey’s levels begin to feature destructible environments, so if I set off a potion bomb beneath myself, I couldn’t land there again. As the levels progressed and I went to new worlds, new mechanics such as a leaf glider, portals that would transport me to a different part of the level, platforms that regenerated after being destroyed, switches, and more emerged. Like the best platformers, Splodey makes each level feel like a puzzle meant to be solved, even if it doesn’t feel much like games such as Limbo that get the puzzle-platformer moniker.

Each room presents a different set of challenges, and it’s up to players to find out how to use the unique controls to navigate and overcome those. At the same time, Splodey also feels speedrunner-friendly, which makes sense as a member of its three-person development team was also a speedrunner, and a $10,000 competition for the game is being held on Speedrun.com.

The level replay feature in Splodey.
Mad Mushroom

A replay of the player’s winning run-through of a level is shown to them after they finish, as is the time it took to complete it, giving players the tools they need to quickly learn where they can improve. While there are only a few hours of content on offer in the whole experience, Splodey still has immense replay value because of this. I can’t wait to see how players even more skilled than myself find ways to manipulate Splodey’s controls and mechanics to get even better level completion times.

I adore a great 2D platformer, and games like Celeste and Super Meat Boy are some of my favorites. Splodey looked at those games’ fantastic, puzzle-like level design and speedrunning-friendly nature and reinterpreted it into a game where players have to launch themselves rather than traditionally jump. There are tons of new indie platformers released every month, but Splodey is unique enough that it’s my top recommendation if you’re looking for a new platformer to try out this month.

Splodey is available now on PC. It’s $9.75 on Steam during its launch week; after that, it will cost $13.

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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