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     "Makes you want to drive to Neverhood, ring the bell, grab the first developer that comes to the door, and stomp his jimmy repeatedly while screaming "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING???" "

   Title: Skullmonkeys

   Format: Playstation

   Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

   The Hype: "Skullmonkeys is the Neverhoodís latest creation for Dreamworks and the Sony Playstation. It is a super fast paced, action packed, edge of your seat, jump-n-bump, super weapon, special effects filled, side scrolling claymationized platform game. And itís funny too!" - Skullmonkeys home page. Well, theyíre partially right. The graphics are great and itís fast paced. But I donít know that any jump-n-bump side scroller can be edge of your seat anymore.

      What This Monkey Thought...

   Graphics: Okay, letís start this review off on a positive note. The graphics, with out question, and fan-diddley-tastic! Claymation is one of those fabulous art forms that no matter what course other mediums take, it will stay that same kooky, fresh, and fun way to look at things. Whether you are a fan of the style or just like something different, visually Skullmonkeys is a wonderful break from the current grind on trying to make games either as realistic or as outrageous as possible. What you have here are clean characters with smooth and funny animations put onto wonderfully rendered backgrounds. I couldnít have imagined it better, right down to the "idle animations" (those for when youíre just standing around too long) which must be seen to be believed (and laughed at). The cut scenes should have also won awards for both the brilliantly smooth claymation and for the irreverent, funny, and just plain odd scripts. Definite 5 out of 5.

   Game Play: Well, unfortunately, with graphics out of the way things start going well down hill. First off, this is a side scroller- nothing new, revolutionary, or frankly, even original. You walk forward, make difficult jump combinations and as though nothing has improved since Mario Brothers you butt bounce on the baddies to kill them. And, though I know a lot of people still like these games, I canít pretend to be particularly impressed. Frankly, I didnít buy my Playstation just so I could get graphically enhanced rehashes of the games of yore. To make matters even worse, it isnít even done particularly well. The collision programming is piss poor, the levels are way-way-way too hard and worst of all, and there is a "foreground". Donít understand? Let me explain. Just like a lot of the games in the genre, Skullmonkeys experimented with putting items that exist in the fore ground between you and your character. In and of itself, that isnít particularly bad, except that here bad guys and difficult jumps all hide behind them! And, let me tell you, with a game that takes away all your power ups and makes you restart the level each time you die, being killed by crap you canít even see makes you want to drive to Neverhood, ring the bell, grab the first developer that comes to the door, and stomp his jimmy repeatedly while screaming "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING???" Finally, as if to add insult to injury, Skullmonkeys is one of those games that insists you have certain power ups to get past certain sections, but there so hard to find the odds are you wonít have it when you need it. No, there isnít anything good here in the game play category and that is always an instant killer for any game. 1 out of 5.

   Multiplayer & Replayability: Well, there is no multi-player to note and the only reason to possibly replay it is to know where stuff is ahead of time and to try and find the bonuses you couldnít have dreamt of knowing about the first time through. In other words, just like game play, replay-ability sucks rocks. 1 out of 5.

   Story/Dramatics: Aside from graphics, story is the only other place that this game shines. The cut scenes are wonderful and do a good job of keeping you involved in the plot. Unfortunately, however, the levels youíre doing really have nothing to do with the plot, but oh well. 4 out of 5.

   Instructions, Installation, and Real System Requirements: It runs fair on the Playstation and the instructions did a good enough job of answering my questions that I never through the game out the windowÖWhich, for all else that is wrong with this game, is a miracle. 3 out of 5.

   The Verdict:

Overall, itís pretty, kinda funny, and good if you want an excuse to ooh and ah at the screen. Otherwise, save your money for a game thatís actually fun to play.

   The Good: Graphics, cut scenes, and the fact that it has "Monkeys."

   The Bad: All, and boy do I mean all, aspects of game play. Ugh!

   The Overall Ugly: If you really want an eye pleaser version of Super Mario Bros., here you go. If you actually want a good game, look elsewhere. Preferably far far away from this game.

   What it's Worth: I donít know, price of a rental to ooh and ah but definitely not worth dropping coin to buy.

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