Monkey See Monkey Do
Gather around little children and let me tell you a story. It is a story about an evil power hungry creature named Klogg (aka Kloggmonkey) who has machinations for world domination. It is a story about a planet full ofSkullmonkeys who carry out Klogg's every command. It is also a story about an unwitting hero named Klaymen who is thrust into the path of Klogg's diabolical scheme. But it is mostly a story about farting, bouncing on your butt, and the 1970s!?! Let the faint of heart beware for there are many bizarre creatures and places on Idznak.
Skullmonkeys is a story about an unknowing hero named Klaymen, a cross between Gumby, Earthworm Jim, and Duckman, who must plow through a planet of Skullmonkeys in search of Klogg's Evil Engine Number Nine. He must destroy this Engine or else his home world (the Neverhood) is toast. The odds are stacked against him, but he has his ever ready and deadly butt-bounce, which will render the enemy helpless. Klaymen receives aid along his arduous journey in the form of Halos, Super Willies, Phart Heads, Glidey Birds, Green Bullets, Phoenix hands, hamsters and the all-powerful Universal Enema. Who says you don't need friends?
If you haven't figured it out by now, Skullmonkeys is not your typical platform type game. The graphics for this game follow the trend of bucking the norm. The whole game is done totally in Claymation, just like Gumby!!! This graphical presentation makes for interesting and really wacky possibilities. Klaymen, the Skullmonkeys, and the background and foreground have a three-dimensional feel to them. It really seems as if you are moving through a world of Skullmonkeys. Everything just seems more real, or is that surreal?
All the levels are all superbly done, with lots of things to jump on and fall off of, but I must say that my favorite level had to be the 1970s. Going through this level was like tripping out on some serious acid. This level came complete with beaded curtains in the background, huge lava lamps in the foreground, a whole bunch of furry (emu hair?) shag carpeting and swirly psychedelic records to jump on. Oi, that was one whacked out level!!
The excellent graphics is further enhanced by the kick-ass soundtrack. Each level has its own particular music style. The first levels had a Donkey Kong type, "Me Tarzan,You Jane," Jungle Boogie, drum beat. Later levels explore Latin rhythms, Polka, and even some tunes that have never before been heard outside of Dr. Demento. However, the 1970s level came with its own very laid-back guitar groove reminiscent of easier days and lots of pot. (Ed note: Those days are gone?) Also, be sure to listen to the Bonus Level song because it will leave you in stitches. Don't crank this game up too loud, or your neighbors will think that you are running a monkey smuggling operation in your house what with all the inane screeching and whooping by the Skullmonkeys. Aside from the racket made by the Skullmonkeys, there is an unbelievable amount of flatulence going on. I'll be damned if it don't sound like my Aunt Tilly after sucking down a can of baked beans. I'll bet it smells really bad, too. The soundtrack by itself makes playing this game worthwhile, but wait there's more to come...
Playing Skullmonkeys is a wacky experience to say the least. Going through level by level, you get an idea of how twisted and whacked out the creators were. The various minions of Klogg are representative of this vision of madness. Sure there are the "normal" enemies such as the Clay Keepers, Loud Mouths, and Mental Monkeys. However, there are also El Barfos, which try to get you by blowing chunks on you, and bosses like the Shriney Guard which hock lugeys at you. Then there are the truly depraved bosses such as Joe-Head-Joe(a dismembered human head attached to Skullmonkey body). Ay Madre de Dios! But fear not, Klaymen has equally bizarre weapons to counter the enemy. There's the basic green bullets, the Phoenix Hand(a sort of homing bird missile thingy), the Hamster Shield(the SPCA won't like this one), and of course the screen clearing Universal Enema(don't ask).Skullmonkeys is pretty straight forward once you get past the weirdness of it all.
You go through each level butt-bouncing monkeys and picking up weapons, power-ups, and special objects(3 Swirly Q to get to a bonus level, 3 1970s to get to the 1970 level). After certain levels, you face the boss and get to watch an FMV straight out of Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted. Each level gets progressively harder, with more menacing enemies and more chances to use your hand eye coordination. What's great about Skullmonkeysis that you get to choose your own destiny, that is after each level there are decision points and alternate pathways to get to the next level. In the first level, each item is preceded by a sign that explains what it is and how to use it. These signs are helpful and saves the time of looking things up in the instruction manual.
After playing for a couple hours, you begin to lose touch with the real world and start to slip away into Idznak. This is a testament to the profound impact the game has on your perception of reality. Translation: You will bust out crazy mad after prolonged exposure. Extremely well-crafted Claymation graphics combined with an at times hilarious if not perverse soundtrack make Skullmonkeys something everyone should try. Come on, inhale, it won't kill ya. Really.