Independent game developer, Flying Penguin, has partnered up with those cute, cuddly, and somewhat creepy critters called Skelanimals in a new rhythm based game for the iOS platform. Priced at a decent $2.99, here in the USA, this game isn’t cheap enough for an impulse by, but if you’ve got kids like I wish I did, it’s not a break the bank, pull grandpa’s gold tooth and sell it at a pawnshop kind of commitment, and you know you’re kids will want this accessory to add to their insane collection of creepy critters. The gameplay, the graphics and music, along with it’s overall feel, make this game worth the three bucks. Anybody else feel like a short list? No? Oh well, I’ll just talk to myself then.
So, first lets conduct a survey here. Show of hands and/or paws, who among us remembers Parapa the Rappa from the glory days of PSX? Just me? Again, oh well. IF you DID remember it, you’d remember the game play was pretty basic. You’d face off against other MC’s in a rhythm based challenge. You’d have to rock the mic by punching out command in time. This game sort of reminds me of Parapa. No, rival MC’s, but you do face off against the very judgmental “Judgement Line”. Basically, the skinny of the game is, all the Skelanimals are rolling around in there graves, and you have to free them by completing each stage in turn. One Skelanimal per song. The judgement line goes top left to right, then bottom right to left across your screen. As it sweeps past, you tap, slide, or hold on the buttons at just the right time. This slight twist to the usual spectrum of rhythm games is refreshing, but took a little getting used to. Once you get the hang of it, of which that should take no longer than playing through the tutorial, you should be able to accomplish playing the normal setting without much trouble. There is a No-Fault mode, party mode, wherein you don’t lose life points of your life bar for missing notes. If you’d feel better doing that first, I’d suggest it. As previously stated, if you complete a level with enough points and/or don’t lose all your life points, not sure which it is there if not both, you will be rewarded with a dancing, and still kinda creepy Skelanimal and it’s corresponding bio. There are ten in all, so at least you won’t have a whole lot of work ahead of you.
The graphics in this game are pretty basic, but as a review online once said about a different game all together; “Mamma said do one thing, and do it well”. That being said, even though these graphics may not live up to the PS3 title Little Big Planet, that’s alright. I don’t need to be able to count the stitches in the dancing undead puppy on my screen, thank you, but no. The graphics here may be basic, but they are solid and have a charm to them that makes the game visually appealing to my own set of sensibilities. The rhythm mechanics are decently rendered, and the dancing Skelanimals are better done than you’re average flash game artwork can often be. The backgrounds are cute, and should probably be released on their website as wallpapers as an alternative for that ugly “bubbles” default homescreen you now get in iOS4. Just a thought guys. Anyway, lets move on to the music. The ten songs in this game are all dance songs, none of which I have ever heard of, but I’m satisfied with most of them. They are good enough to wanna suffer through a level to claim my prize. Save one, the first and sort of theme song for the game. That one is great. It’s called, “keep the party alive” and it’s really catchy. It sets the tone for the rest of the game in my opinion.
Lastly the overall feel of the game is good. It’s lightweight, casual, and not particularly frustrating. The music, graphics, and theme of the game mesh together well. Unlike some of the screen shots of seen of Slash Hero, or whatever it’s called. In case you’re curious, though I can’t blame you if you’re not (cause I’m not), but Slash-fill-in-the-blank is a game of all Slash music done to a guitar hero-esque sort of mechanics, and it kinda looks like it will suck. Digressing aside, I like the look and feel of this game. I don’t have much to complain about, and would think this game would really do extremely well as a universal App for the both the iPhone/IPT and the iPad. I actually think this game would be better on the iPad because it would allow you to use more of your fingers to navigate the judgement line.
My own version of the judgement line has passed over this game, and given it a good rating of 7 out of 10. The music selection is good, but only ten songs long? Eek. The graphics are good and solid, and the Skelanimals are huggable and cute, and you guessed it, just a little creepy. All of this together, matched with a good price, makes me want to recomend this game to others. I will, however, state this much as being my final thoughts on the matter. Please make this game a little more like Tap Tap Revenge where you can download some extra music for a decent price or for free. Extending this game play would be a good move, and also adding in some winnable items for your collection of virtual Skelanimals might be a good way to go. Oh, and before I forget the MySpace and iTunes quick launch buttons were a good solid idea here. Being able to search out the bands I like, on either platform, was a great way to encourage me to discover new music that I might not have otherwise ever heard of before. So, kudos to you guys, and remember to add some additional music options in the next release and i’ll be happy.
Game rated a 7 – based on a ten point scale.