The Evil King is back! in the awesomely titled – Super Skull Smash Go! 2 Turbo (Street Fighter reference anyone) and is the sequel to 2013’s outing from Poppy Works. The first title even made an appearance on the ill-fated PlayStation Mobile project so it was nice to see it get a sequel. Super Skull Smash Go! 2 Turbo is currently available on Steam and is releasing on PlayStation 4 and PSVita this July. The PlayStation release is cross-buy so for those who own both machines you get access to two versions at no additional cost. Now the question is which format to try, for me it seemed like the perfect reason to boot up my PSVita for the first time in a very long time… well that was after a quick charge as the battery had totally drained followed by the ritual clearing of just enough space on that all precious proprietary memory card – thanks for that Sony.
The game gets going with that darn Evil King causing havoc once again. You must take control of our pink sprite based hero, who is cute but also only seems to be wearing pants and a bandanna – maybe he’s just on his way back from a toga party but I digress. Our hero returns to the haunted town in a bid to save the poor villagers. If you didn’t already know, The Evil King is literally the worst and in keeping with his name has concocted a new spell to unleash yet another skeleton army. Joined by hordes of zombies, ghosts and vampires their sole mission is to defile the local countryside and set a curse upon the townspeople. You help out the defenceless town-folk by hunting down every last skeleton each level has to offer before smashing their skulls into a sacred shrine. The mission is clear, purify the land and stop Evil King once and for all, sounds reasonable to me.
The games graphical style is a classic homage to the yesteryear of platformers, simple but crisp visuals took me back to my rose-tinted childhood days of playing on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The colour palette used is vibrant and bold giving the finished product a memorable but never stunning feel. For me, the design works well and the game handles exactly as it should offering crisp controls with a sensible layout.
Unlike its predecessor, you are not locked to a single screen of play which really opens up the world helping to build on the gameplay elements as you journey through eight unique lands in the Kingdom of Bones. Each level is accompanied by an overarching world map which binds it together, along the way you get the opportunity to explore a little – picking up extra missions, quick-fire puzzle bonus levels and even battle against giant robot skeleton bosses. I found the first boss extremely hard to beat, I won’t lie, taking a lot more than the standard 3 hits of a Mario game to beat it but after a few attempts it was easy to work out the pattern of attack. This set the standard for those that followed.
On each level, you can collect a set amount of coins, earn bonus hearts and find hidden secrets galore. Earning the extra hearts was a godsend as one hit deaths meant that everything needed to be on point, all the time, every time. I soon found myself heading back through a level to collect any jewels I had missed on my first attempt or to just better my time. It becomes fairly easy once the solution is known but the key is practice and hitting those perfectly timed jumps. Super Skull Smash isn’t overly long and can be completed in around 4 hours, the story is minimal and I didn’t feel that the game was dragging things out. It even has a Platinum trophy to collect, which some will see as a big plus point.
This sequel really takes the skull-smashing puzzle platformer in a new direction with TURBO action, TURBO puzzles and TURBO boss battles. For the price it is good, the experience is fun but never groundbreaking. Cross-buy on the PlayStation is a neat feature allowing you to decide how and where to play. So the villagers are relying on you – will you try this game and defeat the Evil King once and for all… or until another sequel is released.
Beard Score: 6/10
Genre: Action, Platformer
Publisher: Poppy Works
Format: Steam, PlayStation 4, PSVita