Posted by Female Gamers on Jan 19, 2010
Under the Skin – Review

Under the Skin – Review

Post Rating

I’d been looking forward to having a look at this title since I heard the premise of the game being discussed on a TV gaming show a while back. The idea that you can play the aliens and for a change get to scare and chase the humans sounded like a fresh idea and the fact it was wrapped up in a cartoon like package made it seem even more promising. Under The Skin is brought to us by the same kind folks who made Viewtiful Joe and when you first start the game up you do get the same feeling from the graphics, bright, cheery, fun and unusual.

The aim of the game is to guide Cosmi through various levels in order for him to return home a hero to Planet Mischief where the ‘kids’ are banished at age 3 to go to Earth and practice their trickery on poor humans. Cosmi is a little blue alien who looks like Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch) and a Pikmins lovechild. Very cute and extremely versatile. Cosmi is instructed by his superior known as Master Itazura who is a very odd Japanese alien that talks by way of a hand puppet, yes.. i did just say that. Its all very odd and has an environment reminiscent of Jet Set Radio. Cosmi is informed that he can simply capture humans and take on their characteristics so that he can go about his business of playing pranks on them whilst being able to evade them with the change in appearance. Basically the aim is to obtain as many gold coins as possible in each level whilst completing the other goals. This is obtained by playing pranks on the humans which then gifts you gold coins. It all sounds very dull but its actually quite amusing and fun especially due to the level designs and the humor inherent in the game.

As I mentioned previously, the graphics are absorbing and unusual. The intro scene looks just like a cartoon that you’d see on any children’s hour on TV. There are numerous amusing touches thrown in however for the seasoned gamer. One of the best of the diverse levels is the ability to visit Raccoon city, yes the same Raccoon city where Resident Evil is set. In this particular level you have to defeat Nemesis and have the opportunity to capture and thus take on the characteristics of most of the main Resi Evil characters. Brilliant fun and very amusing that there are zombies trying to get you in this level. Some of the other levels are great fun also such as the take off of Dracula where you can play a Priest and have to avoid Death. The levels have been thoughtfully created and the characters are adapted to suit the level you’re playing. The backgrounds are bright and interesting but you won’t get much time to take it all in because you’ll be too busy evading angry humans shouting ‘alien!’.

The pranks that you play are textbook practical jokes, oversized boxing glove, tacks on the floor, lightning bolts, emitting awful gaseous odours and more. Each human has different magic tricks and jokes you can steal and you need to learn which ones are going to work best for you in which situation, such as making sure you pick a priest to exorcise Death in Pranksylvania. These skills aren’t difficult to master and the controls are fine for what you’re doing. There’s no confusion and no menu heavy control system here, its pretty much pick up and play although I do recommend doing the tutorial first and then entering the Dojo for a little practice. There is also the addition of a feature in each of the levels known as Panic Time which basically is a period of time where you’re put in even more danger by various items in the scene. Its fun and its interesting and it can get a little crazy trying to avoid insane crowds as well as panic time items. The sounds in the game fit the style of it perfectly. Its all very upbeat and fun and it adds to the overall enjoyment of the game. Some of the best sound effects are from Master Itazura and of course the panicked humans. These made me chuckle out loud at times and really added to my enjoyment.

There are a few problems with the game however which is a real pity because the originality of it could have made this a classic. The game is too short overall. Yes there are quite a few levels to work your way through and they are all different from each other adding a little variety to the game, however, ultimately you’re pretty much doing the same thing for each level albeit under different guises. The other problem I have with the game is that some of it can be a little frustrating. It’s not hard as such, more repetitive when you fail the tasks the first time. It does offer a VS mode as well as story mode though and this can be fun in itself. Playing through story mode unlocks characters and bonuses in the rest of the game so this adds a little to the longevity of it.

The female gamer here can enjoy this game on the same level as any male gamer. There’s no choice of playing a female alien in story mode, but you can unlock female aliens to play in VS mode. Also because you’re jumping in and out of humans all the time and taking on their characteristics it really doesn’t matter much. It’s definitely a game which can appeal to all ages and both sexes.

Overall this is an unusual, engaging game which could have been absolutely outstanding. If there had been a little more variety in the game play, some more depth to the game overall and more longevity then I would have been very tempted to give this game a 9 primarily because of its original concept and fantastic graphics. As it stands however it loses valuable points because of the flaws I’ve mentioned above. If this title comes down in price its definitely worth checking out as I feel more experienced gamers might not be that impressed with it overall which is a real shame as it is a little gem of a game.

Review by Tracy

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