Approximate Release Date: October 1, 1992
Developer: Realtime Associates
Publisher: American Softworks
If Sküljagger: Revolt of the Westicans had a flavor, that flavor would be water.
I say that because Sküljagger is a weird game to write about. I played it for around an hour in preparation for this blog post, and I can’t think of another game that made less of an impression on me. Playing it provided the lasting stimulation of twiddling my thumbs or reading TMZ.
But there are some really baffling design decisions made here, and I think the reason none of them hurt the game is that they’re all on the periphery and can be completely ignored. When I rewatched the video I recorded to make sure there weren’t any errors, I was struck by how weird it was that the power-ups are various flavors of bubblegum yet Sküljagger is a pirate-themed game. I don’t associate pirates with bubblegum. Also, the power-ups are completely worthless as far as I can tell.
There are also gems that act like rings in Sonic the Hedgehog, where if you get hit you lose your gems but if you don’t have any you die. The gems don’t fly out of you or anything when you get hit, so I don’t know why I would want to collect multiple gems of the same color if I’m just going to lose all of them. I also don’t understand why there are three different colors of gems in Sküljagger. Red gives you a projectile attack when you swing your sword, but what do blue and green do? Blue doesn’t even have an on-screen counter!
UPDATE: Reader Dempa pointed out in the comments that the number of red gems you have is the number of projectiles that can be on the screen at once. Thanks for paying attention for me, Dempa!
Also, what’s up with the first boss? It’s quite low-effort.
So even with those and other problems, Sküljagger is still kinda fun to play because the jumping-and-swording parts are okay. You press the button and you jump. You press the button and you hack an enemy apart with your sword. It’s totally competent, just plain bordering on bland. The levels have a decent amount of verticality to them, which is nice and makes the game feel more open than it probably really is. And even though the graphics aren’t wowwing, I do like the enemy designs and how the backgrounds are lush and colorful. The music isn’t bad either!
As we get further into the life of the Super Nintendo, I suspect there will be more games like Sküljagger: Revolt of the Westicans and fewer like Race Drivin’. Once developers get more used to the new hardware and struggle less to make release dates, the games will fall into the familiar rut of mediocrity. If you already own this game, it’s worth throwing into your Super Nintendo and giving it a few minutes of your time, but probably not much more than that.
But hey, maybe you’ll find something here that I couldn’t.
Tomorrow: I really think there should be an s after batter in Super Batter Up. It just … looks and sounds weird without it.