Spotlight: Skellboy

Spotlight: Skellboy

Skellboy is a quirky adventure game developed by Umaiki Games and published by Fabraz. While it’s far from a phenomenal experience, certain aspects of it still manage to stand out, giving players glimpses of the game that it could be.

In Skellboy, you play as the reanimated skeleton of an ancient hero named Skippy, with your mission being to save the Cubold Kingdom from all of the evil spirits and monsters that have taken it over. Being set in the Cubold Kingdom, Skellboy has a unique three-dimensional perspective that’s not quite “2.5D” but not quite fully three dimensional either, in a way, similar to the first two Paper Mario games.

Being more of an action-adventure, Skippy’s main move set consists of jumping on platforms and swinging weapons. A number of different weapons can be found just lying around the kingdom all with some different strengths and weaknesses, such as some being slower but more powerful, although these characteristics don’t really become any more complex later on. Swinging weapons never feels all that satisfying, and makes fighting enemies more of a chore than something to look forward to.

Being a skeleton, Skippy also has the ability to switch out his body parts with those of fallen enemies or with certain items. Different body parts give Skippy different abilities, such as head parts giving Skippy additional attacks, torso parts increasing defensive capabilities, and feet parts giving Skippy passive abilities to help deal with specific situations  (such as knockback reduction). While swapping body parts is an interesting mechanic, it’s something that a number of other games have done better in the past and happens to be Skellboy‘s greatest shortcoming

When still becoming accustomed to Skellboy, you may die a few times due to having to face too many enemies at once while still learning, luckily there are auto-save points spread around the kingdom and most are close enough that you don’t have to backtrack much. When I encountered what I had assumed was the first boss, I died after not being sure how to defeat it. Turns out all I had to do was manage to jump on it once and then it ran away. The actual first boss is much more difficult and took a number of tries to defeat, but once I understood attack patterns it was no problem. At one point, this boss even glitched out and became a visually garbled mess, although it didn’t affect the battle itself otherwise. While the fight itself had no problems initially, the aforementioned gameplay and Skippy’s movement are what kept me from playing much further after it, and it looked like my experience wouldn’t improve much in the future.

One of the first things I thought stood out the most in Skellboy was the soundtrack. It seems reminiscent of the chiptune soundtracks found in retro and retro-inspired games. Unfortunately, I found it to have a rather repetitive and uninspired nature which became more apparent the more I played. Eventually, I found the music to match with the gameplay, being relatively simple but unsatisfying, which is a shame since it started out so well.

Overall, Skellboy seems like a rather mediocre experience, containing all the features it needs to be a better game, but not being able to fully execute them in a way that creates a satisfying gameplay loop. It’s always unfortunate when a game has the right recipe for success but still fails to deliver. That being said, I could see Skellboy being a fun game for young children who might be less aware of its flaws. However, for those of us who have more experience playing a large variety of games, there are plenty of other similar games we’d likely enjoy more.

Skellboy is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop. A Steam release is planned for later this year.

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