In the once peaceful land of Cubold Kingdom, life is flipped upside down when the king’s court magician gets well and truly dumped by the princess. In a fit of rage, he unleashes death and destruction on the pixelated world, bringing forth a host of ferocious monsters. Unbeknownst to the magician, however, he has also awakened Skellboy’s skeletal hero, Skippy.
Blessed with the ability to swap out his own body parts for nifty perks, Skippy sets out on an adventure to save Cubold Kingdom. Skellboy is your typical action RPG, giving you access to a range of weaponry and skills accessed simply by exploring the overworld and various dungeons hidden around the Kingdom. You’ll face countless enemies on your travels, along with boss fights that will test your skills and patience.
The game’s main draw is the ability to swap out Skippy’s body parts for new ones. You can mix-and-match to hilarious results, all while boosting Skippy’s abilities along the way. So you can totally rock a pink princess dress while donning the head of a zombie, if you wish. You’ll also come across a variety of new weapons like axes and giant pencils, along with permanent boosts to your health.
Skellboy's strongest aspect is undoubtedly its impressive visuals. Combining 3D environments with 2D, pixelated assets, its overall aesthetic is very much reminiscent of the recent Link's Awakening remake, with objects blurring as they go further into the distance. Colours really pop from the screen too, and there’s really nice visual distinction between the various environments. The music is also pretty great, boasting catchy chiptunes that do admittedly get a bit repetitive after a while.
The gameplay itself, unfortunately, doesn’t stand up to the impressive visuals. Skippy moves far too slowly, and everything you do – whether it’s attacking or jumping – just feels like it could do with being given a good jolt of speed. It’s a sluggish game at the best of times, and sadly this is only exacerbated by the poor technical performance. The framerate consistently chugs along, but there are multiple occasions where it seems like the game just gives up and freezes for a good few seconds before picking itself up again.
With an imaginative world and equally imaginative premise, Skellboy is an admirable attempt to provide an alternative to your average Zelda title. If you can get past the sluggish gameplay and cringe-worthy technical performance, there’s plenty here to get to grips with, and you’re guaranteed at least a few laughs thanks to the hilarious writing and dialogue.