Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sky Skater

When I was a boy, I believed a lot of things that I found out later to be untrue. I believed that pro wrestling was real, the Easter Bunny existed, and somewhere out there was a fairy with a big bag of fifty pence coins and a love of decayed, rotten teeth.

To my dismay, I discovered that these beliefs were based on a lie (at least there's still Santa and Jesus.) However, no matter how old I got, no matter how much of the world I saw, there was always one statement that by and large rang true - girls suck at playing video games.

Now, I don't want to generalise, because obviously not all girls suck at video games. But a lot of them do. I always thought this was because girls' hands were just too dainty and fragile to really get to grips with a joystick, but perhaps it had more to do with the sort of games marketed at girls. While boys can enjoy firing large guns with chainsaws strapped to them or making two scantily-clad women catfight, girls have been left with the options of either training an electronic dachshund to beg or learning that the key to happiness is dressing like a preteen streetwalker.

My point is that this week's game, Sky Skater, comes to us from a website called Sadly, the site is of the firm belief that all girls want to do is make salad and dress up Katie Holmes, so it seems that another generation of girls is doomed to a life of mediocrity when it comes to fun games.

Anyway, now that I've painted myself as some sort of sexist pig, I'll get on with the review. Sky Skater has you playing the role of Claire, who is floating through the air, skating across platforms suspended in the sky. It's basically one of those games that have you bouncing from one platform to the next, trying not to hit the top or fall to the bottom. Since it's primarily a game for girls, it's all bright colours and cutesy music, which surprisingly did not make me want to drill several large holes into my temples.

Running along the top of the screen is an electrical current, which I think we can agree should be avoided at all costs. Sky skating is the sport too extreme for mortal men (but perfectly fine for small girls.) As you guide Claire down through the never ending sky, you'll come across a variety of different platforms, all with their own characteristics. But don't expect any help trying to figure out what each one does; as the instructions highlighted in the next picture state:

Well, gee, thanks.

The controls are simple - too simple, really. I found my left hand gravitating to the A and S keys often while playing, even though the left and right cursor keys are the only buttons one uses. Which is a shame, as that little up button, which has seen so much action in its day, would have been really nice when I kept falling to my doom.

Considering the blood curdling scream that emanated from Claire's lips as she fell thousands of feet to the hard yellow earth below, "She fell down..." is something of an understatement. This is my biggest bone of contention: that seemingly innocuous jumps are too far for our heroine.

She can skate through the sky, but she can't make a three feet drop. Nor can she jump, apparently. I'm no sky skater, but at least I can push myself off the ground if I have to. Before Claire decided to jump out of a plane at 30,000 feet and skate across floating platforms she may have wanted to think about what she was going to do when one was just slightly out of reach.

What really sucks is that as the game progresses, the platforms move faster but you don't. I don't think Claire understands the severity of the situation. Electrical shocks above her, a bottomless abyss below - this girl needs to get a friggin' move on!

Obviously there are worse games, and I've played them, but Sky Skater is missing those few little tweaks that could erase almost all of my frustration. Still, every cloud has a silver lining. Any girl who manages to consistently score three figures while playing will be helping to break down barriers and dispel myths. They will prove once and for all that some girls do indeed kick ass at gaming, and will be immediately transported to the breeding centre.

I mean E3.

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