Somebody whoever was successful was Thom Hopper, creator of well-received titles like Console Saga and Out of Mind, but even he created more obscure games like Super Skull Smash GO! which did not quite break through to more mainstream acceptance. So I was surprised to see a sequel to the latter announced out of nowhere and was keen to try it out to see what I’d missed out on the very first time around. The game is a very traditional 2D platformer at its core. You control a little pink pixel man who jumps, bounces, and dodges his way through levels collecting coins and trampling on enemies in order to stop the Evil King who has started terrorizing the land.
Super Skull Smash play slightly differently to a regular platformer
The twist here’s in the title – each level has skeletons which you can jump on the heads of to knock off their skull and after that pick it up, with the aim is to find any of those and smash them against a central sanctuary in each area in order to move onto the next one. The nature of this makes Super Skull Smash play slightly differently to a regular platformer, as you will frequently be running through hazards that you have already conquered to go back and collect another skull. This brings with it a feeling of complacency – you will think you know exactly what you are doing only to screw up on something simple, requiring you to do the level again.
It’s a difficult game but it’s not unfair
Make no mistake, this is a difficult game, and one that may be hugely frustrating at times, but it is never unfair. The level design starts out fairly simple as you’ll just be running along and occasionally jumping over obstacles, but as the game progresses it introduces a variety of new ideas to keep things feeling fresh. Amongst these are very different enemy types – you will start out with simple heavy zombies, but eventually, you will be bouncing on the heads of ghosts and avoiding vampires that like to jump around erratically. Different themes and tricks are introduced too, so, for instance, one set of levels has you avoiding rising lava, while another has you move between moving mine carts which can be especially tricky. There are also a handful of puzzle levels launched in that award extra heart containers. These involve moving springs and platforms around onto switches so that you can reach a higher ledge where the prize is located, which again serves to increase variety. More challenging is the bosses, which usually require you to dodge attack patterns while catching projectiles to throw them at them.