Skeleton Warriors


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 6

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

"Skeleton Warriors" is a lot like those games that came out during the early 16-bit days. Sure, it looks better, but it barely does anything different in the gameplay department that couldn't have been done on any of the previous generations consoles. Then, when it does make an attempt to use the new hardware, it's obvious that the developers were more focused on the technology then the way the game plays.

That doesn't of course mean that this is a bad game, it's just not Earth shattering in any way. At its heart, "Skeleton Warriors" is a very simple hack & slash platformer. Controlling Prince Lightstar (that name is worse than Lonestar from the Mel Brook's classic movie "Spaceballs") players walk to the right, tearing apart various enemies who get in their way. Lightstar has the ability to swing his sword in various directions and shoot a small beam when he has the proper power-up. He can also jump on enemy's heads and cause damage like any real video game hero should.

Breaking up the generic sections of the game are 3-D space bike levels. These fail miserably. These automatically forward scrolling stages have the players shooting lasers and very accurate homing missiles at the various enemies swirling about on ground level. Player can adjust their altitude and move left to right, but that's it. You only move along the speed the developers decided was perfect. Not only are the controls touchy, they just aren't fun. Thankfully, you won't spend much time here. The majority of the game takes place in the standard 2-D viewpoint.

Things start off easy and simple with the only problem being some very hard to see adversaries obscured by the backgrounds. Power-ups and health are available from nearly every decimated enemy. In fact, you have to grab these. If not, the enemy skeleton will reform and you'll have to start all over. Later stages prove to be brutal, with unrelenting attackers that seem to have all the advantages (including the ability to fire off screen). With persistence, you can make it through, but it won't be an easy 20 levels.

Graphics are impressive in the 2-D levels, a unique mixture of both polygons and pre-rendered backdrops. Character sprites are done with style and flawless animation. It can get crowded very quickly, but the Saturn handles it with almost no trouble. Things go awry when the game goes completely 3-D. Likely due to a lack of hardware power and the fact that this was an early release, pixels are huge while the drab colors give everything a monotone look. Polygons seem to disappear, warp, and then reappear in front of your eyes. It's ugly, but really not enough to detract from the beauty of the scrolling stages.

Tommy Tallirico provides a fantastic soundtrack for this title, which not only adds atmosphere, but also really gives the game a unique sound. Orchestrated for the most part with a little bit choir work, it's amazing to think this guy never worked in major motion pictures. Sound effects are decent, especially the crumbling skeletons. Other than that, everything is pretty much standard fare.

This is really a treat for those who enjoyed the platformers on the classic consoles and nothing more. You can imagine that this is how they would have looked if the hardware could have handled it. Why they chose to implement the shooting levels is a bit odd, but there are only a few of these to suffer through. If you can just enjoy "Skeleton Warriors" for what it is, you'll have a good time.


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Last updated: Saturday, December 04, 2004 08:59 AM