Explosionade

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Mommy's Best Games for PC and Xbox 360, originally released in 2010.
The third title from Mommy’s Best Games has been released on the Xbox Live Indie Games channel, and it’s called Explosionade (that’s right, when life gives you explosions…). You may remember Mommy’s Best Games as the developer of the award-winning Weapon of Choice, and Shoot 1UP. While these are all 2D action games at their core, each of these releases fits into a different sub-genre. Weapon of Choice is a side-scrolling shooter, and Shoot 1UP is a shmup. Before we get any further, and you start to wonder why we’re as giddy as a schoolboy with a sock drawer full of dirty magazines, you may wish to learn more about our secret and terrible Hidden Agenda. Or don’t. You can’t stop the apocalypse anyway…


Explosionade falls into the 2D mech combat sub-genre along with a handful of other outstanding titles, such as Cybernator, Metal Warriors, and the Bangai-O series. In these games, the player takes control of a huge mech that is represented onscreen by a relatively small sprite, but which has huge amounts of firepower. Navigation tends to be a bit slow and deliberate, with a focus on pressing forward, defending your position, and choking your enemies with mouthfuls of bullets, missiles, bombs, and whatever else you have stashed away in your arsenal. And, in Explosionade, you can actually double the firepower with some same-screen 2P co-op.

Taking a cue from those games, the mech in Explosionade has a low movement speed, a jetpack-assisted jump, a shield, a machine gun, and an unlimited supply of grenades. That’s right, unlimited grenades. Actually, the grenades are called Meganades because they’re a bit oversized, as are the explosions that they leave behind.

Grenades are tossed in an arc, and you can adjust their launch trajectory as needed. By default the right trigger controls the lobbing of grenades (although you can change all of the button functions in the Options menu), and there are 2 types of grenades: ones that bounce, and ones that stick. By tapping the trigger, you’ll launch a sticky grenade, which will stick to any solid surface, and explode shortly thereafter. By holding the trigger, you’ll instead launch a grenade that bounces around the environment until its timer runs down… or until it hits an enemy.

This dual-function control scheme keeps you from having to manage 2 types of grenades in your inventory, and lets you switch between them on the fly. You only have 3 grenades at your disposal, but because of strange and unfathomable futuristic technology, these grenades auto-replenish. So, you can unleash your full stock, and shortly thereafter, you’ll see them being added back to your grenade meter.


There’s also an over-the-top powerup called the Meganade Cascade that allows you to unleash an unlimited number of grenades. To get this powerup, you need to collect the gold bricks that are spread throughout the environment. Yes, there are gold bricks in the sewers, which requires no more explanation than the gold coins floating through space in Hypership Out of Control. Grabbing gold increases your score, and restores a bit of health to your mech (this also makes perfect sense). After you grab 10 piles of gold, the Meganade Cascade begins, and you get 30 seconds to go grenade-crazy, unleashing massive destruction on enemies and the environment. Plus, every time you grab another stack of gold, you get a few more seconds added to the clock. The effect even crosses over from one level to the next, so you can keep your explodey rampage going for quite a while.


As you might imagine, grenades blow up a lot of stuff. You’ll be demolishing your way through 40 challenge room-style levels blowing holes in the floors, walls, and ceilings (concrete explodes; metal does not), usually with the sole purpose of getting to the other side so that you can blow up even more stuff. Of course, you’ll also be delivering flaming death upon the heads of your enemies, including several varieties of flying critters, hovering sentries, walking soldiers, and mounted turrets. Given that your grenades are pulled down by gravity, they’re easier to use against the ground-based Horronym Soldiers than they are for enemies above you (who seem to enjoy the taste of machine gun bullets just fine, thank you very much). But boss fights tend to pit you against flying creatures, so you’ll need to keep your jet pack ready, and master the use of your shield.


The shield – represented by a glowing sphere of electricity that surrounds your mech – serves multiple purposes. For one, obviously, it protects you from enemy fire. Secondly, hitting an enemy with a shield causes a bit of damage to the enemy. And thirdly, the shield has an advanced technique whereby you can jump in the air, fall to the ground, and engage the shield to send yourself bouncing in the air. The shield bounce technique allows you to get much higher than you could by simply using your jump/jetpack combo. You can use this to reach higher areas, soar over enemies, or even fly straight into the face of a huge Berzerker boss. It will eventually overheat, however, which keeps the game from becoming Pinball Quest on acid… with robots… and grenades… (um, OK, we may have just thought of a great game idea here).


You have the option of moving and firing via Weapon of Choice-style dual analogue control, or you can use the face buttons for a more traditional approach. You even have a Contra III-style position lock feature that allows you to stand in place and shoot in any direction.

There’s another button on the controller that performs an interesting function, namely the ZOOM button. By default, the screen will be close up on your mech, allowing you to see the general vicinity and all of the enemies that are in range. However, by tapping the right bumper, you can zoom out and see the entire level. This doesn’t have the same impact as it does in the huge Platformance: Castle Pain environment, but it does allow you to see the whole area at once, and the game is still very playable at that zoom level. The addition of this button places the game in the sub-sub-genre of static-screen action games without forcing the developer to lower the resolution or size of the environment.


You can actually play the entire game zoomed out if you wish, but often you’ll find that it’s best to zoom in and out as the level demands. It’s a great way to get the lay of the land at the beginning of the level before you charge ahead and heat things up. Zooming out is also quite useful when dealing with one particular enemy type that has the ability to roll quickly across the floors, walls, and ceilings, and which closely resembles the rolled up Rolpher enemies in Rygar. You’re going to want to know where these baddies are at all times, since they can roll into your play area with very little notice, and shooting them only pushes them back in the other direction (actually, there is a way to kill them, but we’ll let you figure that one out on your own).

Not every enemy just runs blindly toward you, however. Horronym soldiers especially will move around, take up firing positions, and attempt to avoid your grenades while fighting back with machine guns and grenades of their own. They’re small but deadly, and also quite squishable (try it). Mounted turrets come in shotgun and missile varieties, and the missiles can be shot out of the air while they’re seeking your position. There are also a couple of varieties of floating mines that can be triggered to detonate in chain reactions, and there’s a floating sentry enemy that will seek you out when activated, attempting to kamikaze your face off.


Blowing up enemies and getting out of the level are your primary goals, and you’ll be rewarded with points at the end of each level based on your completion time and number of enemies killed. There are also 15 in-game achievements that reward you for different types of kills, completing the game, and even doing some fun things with the shield. Oh, and there are a few trademark (literally) MBG pies tucked away, yielding big points, and full health restoration. (Hey, a mech that runs on pie… are you writing this stuff down?)

The pilot of the mech is something of an underachiever, and he’s actually been left behind to guard the base while the rest of the military goes off to attack the Horronym Fortress. It seems like someone always has to stay behind to watch the base… Transformers, G.I. Joe, X-Men… there was always someone who didn’t get to go out and get in the fight. Here, that person is Lieutenant Terry Atticus, and you’ll learn more about the screw-up pilot as you play through the game, usually as he argues with his vein-poppingly angry superior officer. And hey, you might even manage to make a difference after all. There are a couple of different endings depending on your actions.



2D CRED
Mommy's Best Games is responsible for a number of innovative 2D action titles.

Weapon of Choice is a high-octane 2D side-scrolling action game where you take one of 7 operatives – each with his or her own unique weapon of choice – into battle against hordes of monstrous alien beasts and huge boss creatures, all of whom are bent on destroying you and everything else on Earth. The game is a completely over-the-top tribute to all of the things you loved about the 2D shooters of old, with numerous modern gameplay enhancements, including Death Brushing, where time slows down when the player is inches from death; the Spider Pack, which allows you to walk up walls and across ceilings, leaving your hands free for blasting aliens in their tender spots; and the Vengeance Missile, which lets you to launch a 400 kiloton rocket at whatever is left on the screen after your last death.


Solve your problems with firepower through branching paths, multiple endings, and newly-added difficulty levels that challenge you to play the game at high speed with no Death Brushing.



Shoot 1UP is a shmup that centers entirely around the ability to gain 1UPs.

1UPs have been a part of our gaming culture for decades now, and we all know how they work… get enough points, or grab an onscreen icon, and your little “extra life” reservoir starts to fill up with extra chances to beat the game once you’ve been killed.

Shoot 1UP asks the question… why wait to die to use your 1UPs?


That’s right, each time you earn a 1UP – which happens pretty frequently – it will instantly be put into the action. After just a few minutes of playing, you’ll have a small squadron of ships on the screen. Play a bit longer, and you may find yourself with up to 30 ships at once, maneuvering in unison and firing a wide stream of bad-guy pellets in multiple directions. 2 player co-op and “ghost ship” powerups can double the action, giving you 60 friendly ships onscreen at once.


Once again, the Mommy’s Best Games pedigree shows through with colorful environments, numerous alien baddies, enormous bosses, and innovative action-packed 2D gameplay. MBG was grown from the soil of classic 2D action, and has grown into a beautiful flower, with tentacles… and eye stalks… and a hunger for tender newborns and chewy toddlers.



Defying all logic and reason, Mommy’s Best Games somehow took an over-the-top FPS and smashed it into an equally over-the-top 2D shooter. Serious Sam: Double D is an 18-level romp through time, featuring weapons and enemies that will be familiar to fans of the series, plus new original creations such as the Chimputee and Vuvuzelator, as well as gigundus boss encounters.

But rather than being content with the standard Serious Sam formula, MBG decided to mix in one of their own devious creations: the Gun Stacker. The Gun Stacker lets you carry – and use – multiple guns simultaneously. Wondering whether it would be better to equip the shotgun or Tommy gun? Why not use them both at once and dish out some pain to enemies near and far? You can eventually stack up to six guns, including heavy weapons such as grenade launchers, rocket launchers, lasers, and flamethrowers.


Wondering how you’re going to dodge hordes of enemies in only two dimensions? Pull out your Jump Pad and soar through the air. The Jump Pad acts as your own portable trampoline. Use it to dodge enemies, navigate the environment, uncover the game’s many hidden secrets, or even turn it against your enemies to send them flying into the air while you shotgun their soft parts. The game has all of the action and humor you’ve come to expect from the Serious Sam series… minus the third dimension.



Somewhere along the line, Mommy’s Best Games decided that there just wasn’t enough action in Serious Sam: Double D, and so they popped the hood, cranked the explosionator into the red zone, and unleashed Serious Sam: Double D XXL. Now, instead of fighting mutants and headless kamikazes on his own, Sam can team up with his new gun-loving pal for some solid 2-player co-op. The game is now fully voiced with John J. Dick, the voice of Sam “Serious” Stone, reprising his role as the enigmatic hero of the future.

Everyone enjoys the Serious Sam stable of weaponry, including shotguns, Tommy guns, rocket launchers, and lasers. But why settle for incredible firepower when you can have unreasonable firepower? A shop system allows players to purchase dozens of weapon upgrades, but rather than offering something as simple as increased firepower, these upgrades completely change Sam’s abilities. Turn your grenade launcher into a flesh-eating beetle dispenser, trip your enemies with hot slices of butter, and toss throwing stars from your machine gun Machinobi style!


The total disregard for restraint doesn’t end there, with several new challenges and entirely new levels. Sam can take to the skies on the back of a flying dinosaur and launch heat-seeking missiles at Bio Mechanoids, and he can hang 10 as he races through Ancient Egyptian pyramids on a rocket-propelled snowboard. He even gets to face off against new enemies such as the armored Gnaar and flying fire breathing kittens. Oh yes, gather ye catnip while ye may and prepare to eat bees, you belching furball!

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