Saturday, March 19, 2016

Review #312: Under the Skin

 What the...
 I've made it abundantly clear that I absolutely dislike most forms of modern Japanese multimedia, due to their undying focus and need of fanservice, and their over reliance and overuse of the same plot points and dialogues, there's only so many 'THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP' storylines I can take, while the main characters talks about protecting this girl, or his friends or 'those precious to him', or how he needs to get stronger, or how the bad guy is unforgiveable... Which makes the fact that my favorite videogame director is Japanese all the more hilarious, but y'see, Suda 51 is not like most Japanese developers. He dares to be different. He doesn't confine himself to standards, he doesn't restrict himself to cliches unless it's to put a twist on them. Under the Skin is a quirky Japanese game that's fairly unique, which makes it right up my alley.

 This is a very arcadey game, the kind I like, very easy to pick up and play, fast gameplay and based around scoring points. You play as an Alien(Called 'UFO' by the game), actually, you can pick from about 11 aliens, all of them equipped with the same abilities(Although their 'special pranks' differs between each other), but most importantly, with a Scan Gun. Y'see, aliens are pranksters by nature, but they are fragile and scare humans into attacking them, that's when the Scan Gun comes into play, with it you can disguise yourself as a human and play pranks on them! Pranking the humans makes them drop coins, the objects you must collect. Pranks come in very different flavors, from basic guns(Yeah, the pranks can get hardcore), to fireworks, bad singing, farting or tornadoes and... I don't know why some of these are called pranks. Regardless, pranks, even the deadly looking ones, only incapacitate humans for a while, and they also anger them, which makes them chase you. As a human, you can only take two hits before reverting to your Alien self, and taking hits without a disguise makes you drop coins. But it's alright, because you can scan humans even while disguised, and by walking below an UFO you can disguise again.
 When you first boot up the game, only 'Story Mode' is available, comprised of 8 different stages. Your goal on each mission varies, from gathering 500 coins while avoiding another alien, gathering more coins than the other alien or co-operating with another alien to collect 500 coins. Each mission has a time limit of 10 minutes, which means that you can finish the game in under 60 minutes. I played the game on Normal and got an A on my first playthrough, which unlocked the three other modes: Trial, in which you must collect as many coins as you can under a set amount of time, VS, which lets you compete against another alien(CPU or Player) on any of the 8 Story Mode stages and Co-Op, which lets you cooperate with another alien to collect 1000 coins on said stages. Beating the game also unlocks your Master as a playable character, and beating the game again as the new character unlocks the 11th alien. Basically, you can see and get everything the game has to offer in under 2 hours.

 I give Under the Skin props for having an original idea, but it's far from a hidden gem. While the game's box boasts about '40 different pranks', the game itself gets old pretty fast. I think it has to do with how slow the game can be, while the gameplay is relatively fast-paced, the amount of coins you must gather is rather high, and considering you are competing against another alien, it can turn into a power struggle, which makes 'matches', or 'stages', go by relatively slowly. It also doesn't help that there's only 8 stages in all.
 Under the Skin is what it is, a quirky Japanese game that's fun for about as long as it lasts, which is about 2 hours. The extra multiplayer modes might get you some extra mileage out of it, although the split-screen felt a bit too cramped for my taste.
 5.5 out of 10

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