Thrilling candy, average game.
Do you remember those Skittles commercials
where in some mystical land a legendary creature searches for the end of the
rainbow? Suddenly, a shower of Skittles falls from the heavens, pelting the
innocent to a cruel but yummy death. I mean, who the hell is going to clean
up all them Skittles? Taste the ecological disaster!
Well, commercials aren’t the only tool in the Skittles marketing toolbox. Video
games apparently are the brave new world of advertising, set forth by such precedents
as Yo Noid!
on the NES and Cool Spot
on the Genesis.
In the world of Darkened Skye, the evil Lord Necroth has veiled the
land in darkness, quelling hope, freedom, and apparently anything that’s colorful.
It will take more than magic
missiles to fight this darkness.
A hero foretold in legend must reunite five ancient prisms in order to banish
Necroth and restore the rainbow. Who is this hero, or rather, heroine? It’s
Skye of Lynlora, a shapely Rainbow Brite with a sarcastic sense of self-awareness
and a host of magic spells at her whim.
Darkened Skye pulls several of the early Skittles commercials and strings
them together to create the different game environments. It tries to combine
action, adventure and puzzle-solving, but the sum of the parts comes off dated
and average. Really the game’s saving grace is a sardonic sense of colorful
So, how do the subversive Skittles fit into the mix? It’s actually kind of
clever, far more creative than the Red Bull ads littered about in WipeOut
XL or the LifeSaver Gummi’s you have to buy in Croc
2. Scattered about the levels are a bunch of magical colored orbs marked
with the letter “S.” You can simply pretend that the “S” stands for “sneaky”
or “surreptitious.” The “secret” ploy is thankfully “subtle” and understated.
[Please "stop," Johnny. – Ed.]
The “S” orbs work as ingredients in your book of magic spells. It’s a little
like the crystal ability system of Final
Fantasy IX, where you can pick and choose the traits for your character
by filling up crystal slots. Spells range from defensive shield boosts to vital
spells for problem solving and the perfunctory offensive blasts. For example,
the fire spell takes one yellow and two orange orbs. As you progress, more spells
are opened up.
Skye also has a few melee attacks at her disposal by means of her trusty staff.
There are simple combinations to vary the attacks, but it really doesn’t make
a difference. You’ll still get nailed with cheap shots or flooded by more enemies
than can be handled with melee moves alone. This is one of those action games
in which you find yourself Quick Saving every few moments and looking for ways
to “cheat” the enemy’s AI.
The third-person control is a bit loose, but the levels designed around platform
elements actually don’t come off so badly. The big problem is the weak usage
of melee attacks and the fact that the game likes to throw hard-to-avoid things
your way, whether it be swooping winged creatures or glowing green ooze. A shield
or a defensive maneuver would have helped.
it’s easier to send magic spells at the enemy before you are “detected.” Perhaps
the game should have gone for some Zelda style Z-targeting battles aided
with more weapons than your plain ol’ staff.
Things get worse as the game wears on. Instead of deeper and more advanced
enemy AI, they just toss more enemies that make the standard beeline at you.
It’s hard enough fighting just one enemy when you are simultaneously tackling
The adventure and puzzle elements are straightforward. There are only so many
collectible objects and situations to use them in, which make finding these
objects the greater task. Puzzle are matching patterns or picking up on some
word play clue.
What keeps this game going is its self-awareness. It touches upon many adventure
game idiosyncrasies and laughs at them by breaking the fourth wall, and is actually
pretty amusing. Skye essentially knows that she’s in a game and is just playing
along. She also keeps a journal you can reference for hints about what you are
supposed to do next. It’s filled with completely random thoughts, like how she
could sell off the bipedal aquatic inhabitants of Ogmire to some Marine
Unfortunately, despite the jokes at the expense of game clichés, the game can’t
help but be a cliché in and of itself in both the average gameplay and the traditional
helping of PC game bugs, including a nasty one that lets you fall through the
floor into a gaming void.
It seems that not only has “darkness” fallen over the land, but apparently
so has some thick fog. Indoor environments fare better, with lighting effects
and a fuller sense of structure. In all, the graphics have a very dated look.
At least character animations, aside from a stilted jump, are done well.
Aurally, Darkened Skye carries a high level of production value. Skye
is played by the actress who did the voice of Princess Jasmine from Disney’s
Aladdin, and she completely nails it, giving the character dry mutterings and
witty repartees. The other voices hit their mark, particularly a lizard man
that sounds like Don
Rather than mixing action, adventure and puzzle, a narrower focus with more
snide remarks and witty writing would have led to a better game. Darkened
Skye could have made a great graphic adventure. I’d rather have one thing
done perfectly than three things done with mediocrity…but you can do worse
than taste this rainbow.