On the outskirts of the galaxy, the mighty CRT has captured Skylar and equipped the feline protagonist with a mechanical arm, called ‘ARM’, that can talk. Skylar is our hero in the making, and first job is to save Clover Island.
The game begins with Skylar escaping from CRT’s secret lair, and crash-landing on Clover Island, after the brief introduction, you’re introduced to Plux who meet’s Skylar and before you know it, we have the latest platforming duo to hit the gaming world.
Starting off you’ll find movement slick and fluid, and a fairly familiar layout across the face buttons, A jumps, X attacks, Y Interacts, and A gives a spinning attack that double’s as a triple jump, while in the air you can also crash down to the ground dealing damage below by hitting the attack button whilst airborne.
Skylar’s arm is equipped with a grappling hook which can be used to swing on highlighted points, or pull platforms around, there’s no surprises here but maybe that’s a good thing because everything works as you expect and provides ample choice for movement and attack whilst traversing the stages.
Once your on Clover Island, you’ll come across the elder (who looks like a giant squishy ice-cream jellybean) after freeing them, you’re given more background on Clover Island and CRT’s invasion and sure enough there’s collectables in tow, picking up the orange gems will be required as an in-game currency to unlock the elder’s family Lo’a, who have been locked away, you’ll also get access to various upgrades and power-ups as you progress which gives a little more variation on game-play, and the jet-pack is a welcome addition but ultimately you’ll still be relying on the double and triple jumps for navigation as well as your trust ARM. Attacks seem to boil down to spin attack, and the diving attack from mid-air as I found myself using the spin more and more rather than the shorter range and more precise standard attack. There’s no punishment for spinning away, so it makes game-play just a tad repetitive as far too many enemies can be defeated by just spinning as you reach their vicinity.
Clover Island is quite a varied locale which ticks all the right boxes, tropical beach, volcanic caves, snowy mountain, arid desert, but once again it all feels just a little bit safe, each area is fairly well detailed, layout is enough to force you to get used to those triple jumps, and traversing each area feels direct and fluent. I often found myself replying on luck more than judgement for some jumps, and many where a simple choice of making the jump, or losing a heart so a little frustration sets in if you come across such a challenge.
Thankfully the difficulty isn’t too tough and a little perseverance get’s you through, that’s not to say you won’t fail occasionally, but there’s no real brain twisters meaning it’s more suitable for younger gamer’s than some platform adventure titles we could mention.
Sadly this does detract from the fun for older players who will no doubt breeze through much of the game, and while there’s some collectables, it’s not quite collect-a-thon status meaning Clover Island isn’t quite as fun to revisit time and time again.
In motion, Skylar & Plux play’s very well, it’s smooth and just feels a pleasure to navigate each area, however the effort that’s gone into this has taken something from the overall shine of the game, the cell-shaded cut-scenes are f a fantastic quality and characters really do stand out, but in general game-play, It looks much closer to an extravagant Nintendo 64 title, than something of the current generation.
Textures are somewhat hazy at times, and items in the foreground, often look somewhat fuzzy compared to sharper sections of your surroundings. While the colour palette works well and gives Clover Island a fun and welcoming aura, I’m just a little shocked that something as important as Skylar and Plux themselves just don’t offer enough visual fidelity to stand out in any way.
Even the animations are limited, and standing still watching Plux float next to you, and you can almost count the repetitive frames, as you pick out the pixelated edges and lack of definition.
Graphically it has to go down as a pretty poor showing, but thankfully things are a little better audibly.
Voice acting is of a high standard and each of the main character are well done, there’s plenty of communication and some welcome humour without too much repetition, sadly the same can’t be said about the background music, which while bright and chirpy enough for each area, it’s also quite repetitive to the point I turned down the backing music a little to better concentrate on dialogue, but it’s not going to upset the younger gamers who are quite clearly the target audience with clearly spoken dialogue and the chirpy music without too much atmospheric sound to distract.
It’s safe to say that Skylar & Plux is a children’s game, many sharing the same style might be much more suitable for older players, but those between 6 and 12 are going to find the most fun here.
Difficulty and longevity is geared more towards younger players, and while it’s not going to be the first game I’d recommend to a friend, It’s near the top of the list if they’re after a game for their children.
While the graphics are lacking, the overall design and approach from game-play, graphics, sound and even longevity are geared towards less experienced players.
Sadly there are a few small bugs, graphically you’ll notice pixels popping from textures if you observe the characters closely, and jumping on a fire at the start of the game saw Skylar suspended in mid-air unable to do anything without re-loading the checkpoint, however after about 4-5 minutes she mysteriously found her way back onto her feet and ready to roll.
Thankfully despite a few collision detection issues it’s a pretty sound performance only let down by the graphical clarity.