Switch version tested
Review code provided
Super Skelemania comes to consoles after a successful outing on steam, bringing with it a single sitting Metroidvania experience that is superb for on the go handheld gaming but can it stand out in a sub-genre that has more clones than Emperor Palpatine? Let’s find out.
Created by Ben Allen, ported by Grimorio of Games and published by Hidden Trap, Super Skelemania makes no bones about its inspiration. From start to finish, classic tropes are in full swing, from exploration that requires plenty of backtracking, enhanced abilities that must be found to open and traverse certain areas to map rooms and boss battles, this is indeed a love letter to a classic genre. With little introduction, you begin by seeing your skeleton protagonist plummet to a planet surface, after awakening you set off into an industrial themed complex with no guidance other than a few hints towards button input. In some games, this lack of direction might be jarring but with the level design on hand, this complex just invites you to explore, as you progress you will find doorways that lead to various locations from jungles, creepy pits and bleak swamp like chambers.
Exploring each of these lands will reward you with health upgrades, maps of each respective location and a range of abilities. Starting off you can jump and attack by swinging your skull at enemies but later you will be able to sprint, backflip, glide, bowl your head and ground pound. Having these abilities really comes together nicely as you begin charging through areas and combining them on the fly to take down enemies, leap and glide across gaps and barge through walls almost making the Skelemania feel like a parkour title.
Although no form of storytelling is on offer the task is explained a little further into the game, find five gongs spread throughout these lands, ring them all then fight a big boss to escape (no it doesn’t have an eyepatch and smoke cigars). That’s it. Although I spent a couple of hours exploring during my first playthrough, when I replayed the game I was able to whip through it in just over twenty minutes. This was down to two key factors, the level design remains the same on each reply and the enemies really aren’t that threatening, the map doesn’t highlight rooms you have been too so remembering area shapes and formations kept me on track for a speedy second run. The two boss battles on offer do require a bit of precision but the basic monsters scattered around can usually just be jumped over or avoided altogether. This speed run mechanic did have a slight appeal but could have been greatly increased with procedurally generated levels.
Presentation is clean and crisp, playing in both hand-held and docked mode, Skelemania is very polished in its retro style. Controls are basic as you would expect from an old-school platformer and thankfully very responsive making running around with a full set of abilities that much more fun. Sound design is catchy, each area has its own theme that suits the colour tones respectively.
Super Skelemania is a great little throwback title to fans of the Metroidvania style that nails its gameplay for a bargain price. Fantastic for on the go gameplay due to its speed run formula but the lack of depth may feel a bit too barebones for some especially with heavy competition on the stores. Although I had a lot of fun, I would like to see a bit more variation and challenge which I feel could have been achieved with more varied level designs, specifically procedurally generated ones. Hopefully, this is just a test of the water for something bigger on the horizon as I would certainly be eager to return to the world of Skelemania as it did what a lot of bigger more expensive games failed to do, left me wanting more!
TBG Score: 7/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam
Release Date: 06/06/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action Platformer
Developer: Ben Allen
Publisher: Hidden Trap
Download link: eShop