By Marisa Alexander / August 21st, 2018
|Title||Super Skull Smash Go! 2 Turbo|
|Release Date||July 17th, 2018|
|Platform||PS4, PS Vita, PC|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone|
Apparently, skeletons are running amok even though it’s not October yet. Super Skull Smash Go! 2 Turbo is a puzzle platformer developed by TACS Games. It revolves around jumping on skeletons in order to proceed through levels. With the Evil King creating skeletons, zombies, and vampires, it’s up to the player to stop his evil plans. Can he hop on every skeleton head, purify them, and save the land?
Mechanically, the game is exceptionally simple. One must jump onto a skeleton’s skull, pick it up and then hurl it into a shrine to truly defeat it. It’s also possible to kick a skull on the ground. Otherwise, it plays like mostly any other standard platformer. While the game does take after classic platformers, the difference is that it isn’t about going from point A to point B. The player must purify every skeleton in the level to actually proceed. Enemies like zombies and vampires can’t be killed so they can be completely ignored unless you’re required to jump on them to reach a higher platform or hold a switch.
Every once awhile, the game will offer an optional puzzle level on the world map. These puzzles typically revolve around switches, boxes with platforms and springs, and normal boxes. Unlike the regular levels, the objective is to reach the heart piece found inside the level. Upon retrieving it, the level is completed and the player’s health is increased by half a heart. Completing these levels is very important as any source of damage takes away one full heart. Since the player starts with only one heart, priority should be given to these levels.
The game’s simplicity becomes readily apparent when the formula never diverges from what I described earlier. A lot of the time, the player traverses across the same types of obstacles with only very minor increases in difficulty. Sometimes the game introduces something new like rising lava and platforms guided by rails but it only amounts to waiting instead of anything actually challenging. In actuality, the main issue with the level design is the amount of backtracking that is required. Much of the time, you must traverse the exact same part of the level since the shrine is only in one spot in the level. This can amount to doing a platforming sequence five to seven times in order to complete the level, lending a very tedious quality.
The tedium is further compounded with the two primary collectibles in the game, coins and gems. Coins are effectively the main collectible in the level and are always along the main paths. These are harmless but they amount to nothing outside of 100% completion. Gems, on the other hand, house a different set of problems compared to the skeleton heads. They are typically off the beaten path and hidden in some capacity. Finding them is the easy part, the actual issue is that many of these gems require the player to take mandatory damage to even collect. If for any reason the player has only one heart remaining, or even two in the late portions of the game, then some of these gems are impossible to collect. Unfortunately, like the coins, they are only for 100% completion, so it’s best to skip both of these for an overall better experience.
Puzzle rooms also suffer from the game’s simplicity. Most of them amount to merely shifting what boxes go where, nothing that would actually test the player’s mental skills in any way. What’s really odd is the actual reward, the heart increase. Even if the player only has one half of a heart in their collection, it’s still treated as a full heart. This actually leads to an oddity in that the last heart piece in the game is entirely functionless, since there is nothing that deals half a heart of damage.
Overall, the game is very easy, with the beginning of the game only slightly challenging due to only having one heart. There are no health pick-ups so taking damage early on becomes very dangerous. This is most apparent with the game’s first boss, as the player can only have two units of health possible. The bosses in general however are very easy, leaving a lot to desire. There are only two boss types, the skeleton piloting a mech and Evil King himself. The former requires catching its bombs and throwing it back at the body. For Evil King, it is simply a matter of picking up skeleton heads and throwing them at him. There really is no excitement in these battles, since they amount to waiting to even deal damage to begin with.
As for presentation, the game is exceptionally lackluster. To give it credit, it does look like an NES game with a color palette and sprite style similar to the original Dragon Quest on NES. The only exceptions are Evil King and the skeleton mech, due to their large size. The music too also has a similar twang to the international versions of Zelda II: The Adventures of Link. As such, the game is rather accurate to the style of retro games from the 1980s.
Despite that, the presentation doesn’t give the game much personality. Most apparent with the player character, as it is impossible to gleam what he even is. In both endings, the game properly refers to him as the mysterious man but there is nothing to gleam personality wise. Same with the environments and backgrounds, where they are exceptionally monotone. That said, the music is passable though strangely quiet, as I had to increase the volume on my TV significantly to even hear it, since the game doesn’t have an options menu at all.
Overall, Super Skull Smash Go! 2 Turbo was a relatively dull experience. The game, even when 100%ing it, is only about one hour and a half long. For the asking price of $9.99, it’s best to wait for a significant price drop on Steam or PSN. The game is a platformer but not truly a puzzle platformer as advertised to be. Not a bad game, but it could’ve been expanded on more interesting puzzle elements and ideas. Hopefully, TACS Games can learn from this and improve any future titles they develop.
Review copy provided by the publisher
PCPoppy WorksPS VitaPS4Puzzle PlatformerSteamSuper Skull Smash GO! 2 TurboTACS Games