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Skullduggery! Hands-On Impressions

During last week’s Game Developers Conference, Next 2014, I got the chance to play the incredibly fun and engaging new mobile title, Skullduggery! Skullduggery! is an entertaining new game that deftly mixes the mechanics of classic adventure platform games with those of Angry Birds. The game has a nostalgic throwback style. Even as a touch-screen mobile title, it is very simple to pick-up and play.

The story follows Doug Skullery, a former auditor for the US Internal Revenue Service. He dreamed of taking a dream vacation and traveling the world after spending the years of his life slaving away at a desk. Unfortunately, Skullery dies when he is impaled by a narwhal during a trip off the coast of Greenland. However, in his afterlife, Skullery is recruited by the Infernal Revenue Service. Skullery’s new job is to collect unpaid taxes from the proverbial “deadbeats” of the afterlife.

The game uses fling-based physics. The character is essentially Doug Skullery, a disembodied undead skull. He can be launched at any point by sliding a finger across the screen. The fling-based physics work very well. I was highly entertained by how a game with fling-based physics  resembles a classic 8-bit NES or arcade platform title. The levels all have unique challenges. There are hidden rooms, treasures and items that can be obtained, so the game offers a decent incentive to replay certain stages. Enemies present various degrees of difficulty and challenges for Skullery to defeat. Some levels offer a stronger challenge, similar to Super Mario Bros. levels where Mario is basically in a race against the screen. Skullery must collect coins, and if he is hit by an enemy he will start spilling and dropping coins out– like Sonic and his rings in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

Duggery 1

The game has a fun, unique art style with excellent character designs for the undead skull critters and zombies. It contains alternate unlockable skull designs. This way, Skullery’s look may be changed during the game.

The developers at ClutchPlay Games clearly have a lot of love and respect for classic platform adventure games, and that comes through very well through the gameplay. In fact, during the convention experience, ClutchPlay Games offered a Nintendo-esque “instruction booklet” for the game. In the digital age, instruction booklets for video games are essentially a non-issue. I miss the enjoyment of getting to read about a game through the instruction booklet. Before the Internet, instruction booklets provided one of the best ways to learn more about the characters and worlds of video games.

The version I played at GDC Next was the single-player version, but the game features a local multiplayer component for friends. Skullduggery is currently available for iOS and Android devices at the Google Play Store, the Apple App Store and the

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