We are currently in the midst of a 3D platformer revival, and Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is the latest game to throw its hat into the ring. Developed by Right Nice Games, Skylar & Plux manages to capture much of what made 3D platformers so popular during the PS1/N64 era while trimming some of the fat that current players no longer find appealing. Skylar & Plux's linear platforming is a breath of fresh air. So fresh, in fact, that my biggest complaint with the game is that it isn't longer. It took me just over three hours to beat the game, while I gladly would have played for double or triple that amount of time.
While the game's length may have been my number one problem with the game, it certainly wasn't my only one. Coming in at a close second was the game's story. Basically, all you need to know is that Skylar and Plux need to find three relic-like items before some bad guy gets them. Each item is in a different part of the map, and that's where the gameplay fits in. Unfortunately, all the game's jokes fall flat, the characters are completely two-dimensional, and there's barely any story to dive into. It seems that the game was written with children in mind, and while this isn't a bad thing in it of itself, I still wish that there was something for gamers over the age of 12 to grab onto when it comes to the story.
Story elements aside, Skylar & Plux is a game accessible to gamers of all ages. It's clear that the game takes elements from a wide range of classic 3D platformers like Ratchet and Clank and Spyro. Better yet, Skylar & Plux takes only the good parts of those classic games and doesn't bring along some of the mechanics and features that have been phased out over the past couple generations.
For example, Skylar & Plux realizes that in a linear platformer, it's best not to include endless collectibles that are required to advance the story. If you so choose, you can free some of the captive natives of Clover Island, and you are rewarded with extra health for doing this. There are also hundreds of crystals scattered around the map, but these are used mostly for healing yourself and rescuing the captives. Of course, they're also addicting to collect, much like the bolts in Ratchet and Clank. While a lack of collectibles may be a detriment to more open 3D platformers, it works perfectly in Skylar & Plux and helps make the game even more accessible than it already is. Unfortunately, this also means that Skylar & Plux has very little replay value. After I beat the game, I simply didn't care about going back to free the captives that I missed. This lack of replay value is especially disappointing considering the game's length.
As for the platforming itself, Skylar & Plux feels tight and fair. I rarely ever found myself frustrated with the way the game controlled, and perhaps more importantly, the game's camera never felt like a nuisance. There are very few things in this world worse than a bad camera in a platformer, but Skylar & Plux thankfully doesn't have this problem. It also helps that the levels themselves are designed with platforming in mind first and foremost.
However, this isn't to say that platforming is the only thing you'll be doing in Skylar & Plux, nor is it the only thing to do that's worthwhile. There's also a healthy dose of puzzles injected into the game. These are basic and relatively easy, but still well made nonetheless. The best way I can describe it is if you can imagine a pretty simple dungeon from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Sure, the dungeon is easy, but that doesn't mean it's not fun to work through or that you don't still get a sense of satisfaction from completing it. All in all, the puzzles help break up the gameplay a bit and add variety to the game so that it's not 100% just fighting a few different enemy types (the game definitely could have used more variety in this department) and doing some light platforming.
It also helps that throughout the game, a few gadgets are introduced. Well, only three to be exact, but they set up a few interesting puzzle scenarios. For example, there's a gadget that can reverse time in a certain area, restoring ruins to their original state and allowing you to reach new areas in that level. Again, it's all pretty easy, but enjoyably novel in its own way.
Like I said in the beginning, it's hard not to feel incredibly disappointed by how short Skylar & Plux is. If you purchase games based on hours of gameplay per dollar spent, then it may seem as though Skylar & Plux is a waste of time and money. However, there are so many enjoyable aspects of the game that it's hard for me not to recommend it to anybody in search of a 3D platformer. Skylar & Plux lays some solid groundwork for a sequel that I hope will succeed in the few areas where this game failed.
Fans of the 3D platforming genre should definitely pick up Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island. Heck, even gamers who aren't obsessed with the genre should give it a shot. Skylar & Plux is accessible to a whole range of gamers, and while the game's biggest shortcoming is its length, there are still plenty of features that can make your playthrough worthwhile.
- Tight Platforming
- Good Level Design
- Fun Yet Simple Puzzles
- Controls Well
- Far Too Short
- Story Aimed At Kids