Don’t play with your food. It’s a phrase you’ve no doubt heard before. It’s also a phrase that’s completely ignored by Explosive Candy World. In the latest game from Eastasiasoft and Ratalaika Games to hit the Xbox Marketplace, you’ll be dealing with all manner of sweet treats as you make your way through eighty single-screen levels of precision platforming, split across four sugary realms.
And yes, that includes explosive candy.
In fact, that’s what you’ll be using to actually move around. There is no running or jumping in Explosive Candy World. Instead, you’ll need to use explosions to fling yourself through the air. You’ll need to carefully adjust the trajectory and strength of these to ensure you end up exactly where you need to be. Because if you don’t, you’ll fall victim to the many spike traps and bottomless pits littered across the levels.
Later on, these environmental hazards are combined with other elements such as switches, spinning platforms, breakable walls and bounce-pads to create some really well designed levels. Levels that actually put up a pretty decent challenge and require a fair amount of skill and precision (and patience) to conquer.
It’s a novel approach to platforming, and it actually works quite well. As it turns out, blowing yourself up is an extremely easy concept to pick-up. Actually mastering trajectory and power is another matter entirely though. There’s a learning curve here, and you should expect to die a fair amount.
Perhaps my only criticism of the gameplay is the inconsistent difficulty. Some levels are made unreasonably difficult by the unpredictable nature of explosions. It’s hard to avoid bottomless pits when your character decides to roll forward after an explosion. Meanwhile, touching switches or the sides of the screen will send your character tumbling through the air, and you’ll have no control over where they’ll land.
Expect to fall into plenty of spike traps and bottomless pits because of this. It’s annoying and it only gets worse as levels become longer and require more steps to complete. Luckily, the short levels, infinite lives and instant restarts make death relatively painless and ensure things never get too out of hand.
One of the most striking features of Explosive Candy World is how barebones it is. There is no story, dialogue or real tutorial. In fact, there isn’t even a title screen. It fits well with the game’s retro approach, but it ends up hurting it in the long run because there is really nothing to bring you back.
The game does award golden candy canes for completing levels within a certain number of explosions, but they do little, if anything, to encourage you to go back and replay through it. I feel even a relatively minor addition like a timer or leaderboard would have helped here. At least then, there might have been even a small element of replayability to the game.
Also fitting in with its retro approach is the game’s art direction – Explosive Candy World is replete with colourful pixel art and uplifting (see, extremely repetitive) chiptunes. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before though, and the presentation is pretty unremarkable.
With names like Eastasiasoft and Ratalaika Games attached to it, you won’t be surprised to learn that Explosive Candy World is a pretty easy completion in terms of Xbox achievements. In fact, you won’t even need to reach the third or fourth worlds for your 1000 Gamerscore – the final achievement unlocks upon finishing Stage 2-5.
On the whole, I found that while Explosive Candy World was a fairly enjoyable and challenging platformer, it was also a pretty unremarkable experience. Level design is solid, but the novelty of the concept quickly wears off, and does threaten to get quite annoying at times. There’s really nothing to encourage you to keep playing either. After putting it down, I had no desire to go back to it.
I get the impression that Explosive Candy World would have been better suited on the iOS App Store. Its short levels and its concept are perfect for casual, on-the-go gaming, and aiming your trajectory would have been easier to do with your finger than an thumbstick in any event.
If you’re looking for easy Gamerscore, it may be worth looking into this one. But for those looking for a great precision platformer, Explosive Candy World is just okay. There are much better options on the market.
Explosive Candy World can be downloaded from the Xbox Store