Skelattack (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 05.09.2020

Review for Skelattack on Nintendo Switch

Everyone loves Cuphead. Who could not be endeared by its eclectic charm and reliance on 1920s style animation meets intense run-and-gun action? What if a developer sought to capture that stroke of genius into the confines of a "metroidvania?" That is not exactly what Skelattack actually, is despite what it appears to be...

From the way Skelattack begins, something feels wrong. The story starts with some unusually long and unfunny dialogue between Skully and his bat buddy. Imagine a dime-store knock-off of Banjo and Kazooie, you'd get Yooka and Laylee - Skully and Imber manage to be less interesting than that. They drone on and on about the underworld, without ever giving the player any reason to care. It feels like stepping into a mediocre cartoon series mid-season, only to realize that the cartoon was only half-real to begin with; as it was the result of a half-remembered dream while passing out while playing Cuphead.

Skelattack is as bare bones of a platformer as can be. If this was a simple running and jumping-only deal, it might have been able to get by. Sadly, Skelattack is more than just platforming, and it demands that users get acquainted with some of the worst combat mechanics in a 2D game since Albert & Otto. Much of the issues come from the fact that Skully's attacks are woefully ineffective against his fleshy enemies, and encounters degenerate into a game of keep-away. Skully can get one or two cuts in, and then the wimpy pile of bones will have to skedaddle away while the very slow wind-up of a Simon Belmont wannabe follows through. The encounters are very tedious and artificially lengthen what is already a very short game.

The combat's balance is horribly conceived. Skully's attack is much too slow for how weak it is. The designers were possibly influenced by much older Castlevania instalments where the attack of the whip had a bit of a wind-up, and the protagonist had to frequently dodge incoming attacks. Combat in those older NES titles were more nuanced than Skelattack, since the whip-cracks were much more damaging than Skully's dull scimitar. What Skelattack needs is to be much faster-paced, where the sword can strike as fast as the player can mash the buttons. Not that failure matters much, since Skelattack is extremely generous with checkpoints, so progress is rarely lost.

Screenshot for Skelattack on Nintendo Switch

There is a lot of wall-jumping in Skelattack, which suggests this might have been influenced by Mega Man X, or possibly Super Meat Boy. The controls for the wall-jumping are unorthodox, but can be adjusted to. It is frustrating that there is no option to toggle different styles. Even late into the game, having an auto-jumping mechanism that is triggered by pressing the opposing directional button never felt natural. It almost seems presumptuous of the designers to demands users to let go of their muscle memory for wall-jumping from every other game to have it.

Skelattack is the kind of platformer where there is very little room for error, and the hero is always surrounded by threats and obstacles while traversing. This means tons of spikes and unfairly placed mobs that are eager to grind the hero into soup. This is the kind of design that seems like a developer crafted the path first by playing normally, and then added tons of threats around the route to create the illusion of level design. The lack of professionalism goes beyond sloppy combat and obnoxious level design; the art and aesthetics are lacking too. Upon first glance, Skelattack looks like it might try to emulate some of the personality of Cuphead. After a thorough lens cleaning, it turns out Skelattack is actually inspired by 2000s era Newgrounds.com flash games.

Characters animate very robotically, and use that awfully uncanny limb-system when moving about. It looks cheap, and makes the combat worse than it already is. Worst of all, this flat cartoony style fails to gel with the atmosphere and tone of the game's setting. There is no depth or style to anything and most designs look like cheap Google stock images that were brought to life in Adobe After Effects. The most effort was put into the animation of Skully, since he has the most unique frames, and relies the least on cheap limb animation. Skelattack is not recommended for platformer fans at all. The best qualities are the music, which while inoffensive, was otherwise serviceable. The experience is a smooth running game that is hampered by poor game design and weak art direction.

Screenshot for Skelattack on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

There is as much substance to Skelattack as there is meat on Skully. This is the barest of effort to put into a platformer's design. The over reliance on frustrating-to-control wall-jumping, and terrible combat that takes forever is what kills the experience. What is tragic is that Skelattack runs very smoothly, and is devoid of bugs or glitches. The developer was clearly competent on the construction of its product, but the concept that holds everything together is such a weak foundation. Most of this can be cheesed thanks to the generous i-frames, and how every level's start has a checkpoint. This makes so much of Skelattack redundant and pointless.

Developer

Ukuza

Publisher

Konami

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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