Back in 1987, Dinamic Software released a game entitled Game Over. This pretty much informed you what you were in for even before you took off the cellophane. If you think that Dark Souls is hard, that’s nothing compared to what we had to put up with in the eighties, when games would mock you for not being good enough even before you’d taken them off the shelf at Boots. Some people really miss those days, and the success of Cuphead recently is testament to that. You know who else misses those kind of games? Anim.Ace, that’s who, and that’s why they’ve published Skeleton Boomerang.
The game is your classic run-and-gun, Metroidvania style game. It features you fighting against an array of skeletons, using your trusty boomerang. Looking exactly like a 16-bit title from the early days of the SNES, the title bears unashamedly retro influences, and is clearly designed for old gits like me who remember the days of broken controllers and rage quitting.
There’s some excellent chiptune music throughout, crafted by the exceptional +tek. It’s available for a name your price fee on the artist’s Bandcamp page too, so I recommend checking that out too: it’s one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a game for a long time. The fact that it’s coming from a small indie title is an even more excellent thing.
This isn’t quite up there as one of the hardest games ever, but it’s certainly tough as nails, with bosses that can take dozens of attempts to master. There’s a lot of tricky timing and memory needed to get through the short, but relentless levels. You’ll also find a lot of replay value in collecting bonus items throughout, with a lot of areas unreachable until you get boomerang upgrades later in the game.
Generally, the toughness doesn’t feel like it’s anybody else’s fault: you feel like you could beat the game with a few more attempts most of the time, but there are sections where it feels a bit like the game is robbing you of lives. There are a few parts of the game where enemies come at you as soon as you enter a screen, meaning that if you weren’t expecting them, there’s no time to react. Fortunately, you have an infinite number of lives, so your progress is limited only by your level of patience.
I would question the variety of enemies in the game too, with some levels feeling a little repetitive as certain particular skeletons repeat. There’s usually enough differences to keep you entertained, but I would have liked the enemies themselves to be a bit more thematic. For example, an actual snowman skeleton would have been a nicer touch than the same skeleton as before carrying a snowball.
Repetition and difficulty aside though, this is a decent game and it’s been a lot of fun. I generally try to sink at least a few hours into an indie title, but this one reached double figures before I even started writing the review, that’s always a good sign of addictiveness. It’s a low-priced title on Steam, so if you like retro gaming, then this is a pretty good choice.
Skeleton Boomerang (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
An entertaining and nicely constructed love letter to the Metroidvania games of old. If you’re the kind of person that got excited for the SNES mini then this is one to watch.