This reviewer’s not ashamed to admit that he’s been out with some very scary girls in his time. We’ll spare you the details but if the dark corners of the Internet, where some ladies obsessions with the Twilight saga are given hideous form, teach you nothing else then realise that there’s more than enough nutty females out there to go around.
But there’s never been anything quite like the scary girl in TikGames and Square Enix’s Scarygirl for PSN and XBLA. After all, how many women have you met with a tentacle for one arm and a bone stump on the other? Actually don’t answer any of that because we’d rather not hear about your sordid love life. Oh, and before the feminists beat a path to our door to try and string us up, yes we’re well aware that there are plenty of nutty men out there too…
Based on the obscure graphic novels by Nathan Jurevicius, the titular Scarygirl in question here is an orphan who was washed up on the beach many years ago. Now she lives in relative contentment in a tree house built for her by her friendly octopus friend Blister, and is guided by the mystic rabbit Bunniguru. Woken late one night from a weird dream, she sets out to discover the identify of a strange man who seems to occupy her sleeping visions.
It doesn’t matter if you’re unfamiliar with Scarygirl before playing, as the game does a lovely job of presenting the background in a storyboard fashion. Despite the fact that it feels like it’s been produced by someone who was completely tripping balls, everything is done with an irrepressible bright and colourful style that makes it nice to look at. With a range of fantastical creatures and locations to look at, despite some ragged edges, there’s some very stylistic eye candy going on here.
Which is just as well really, since there’s not actually much to the gameplay. Taking the form of a side scrolling platformer, the player must guide Scarygirl from left to right, beating up any monsters who dare to get in her way. There are light and heavy attacks to be used, along with using her tentacle to grab and throw enemies, or even use them to batter their colleagues.
Scattered around the levels are various sized gems which can be used to purchase additional weapons such as anchors or fans, each with different attributes, or upgrades for her abilities for jumping and using her tentacle in a rotary motion to hover. After attacking enough enemies and building up her rage meter, Scarygirl can enter Scary mode (naturally) allowing her more powerful attacks for a very short period of time.
That’s pretty much all there is to the game. Some very basic platforming, mixed with some very basic combat along a very linear path. The game does try and add some elements of exploration to proceedings by having branching paths, but the fact that you can backtrack through a level to these points and take the alternative route for a few extra goodies means there’s no real reason to replay a level once you’re finished.
There’s not much challenge either and it’s possible to leisurely stroll through everything the game has to offer in a very short space of time. The end result is a game that feels like it’s very much aimed at the younger audience. It doesn’t necessarily do anything wrong, it’s a relatively fun distraction to occupy the brain for a while, but it does feels very light and a completely throwaway experience that suffers from style over substance. Depending on your age that may suit you down to the ground, but anyone over the age of thirteen is unlikely to find the gameplay providing them with any lasting sense of fun.
Which means the real sticking point here might be the games price. Currently sitting at 1200 Microsoft Points / $14.99 it doesn’t feel like it offers enough value to warrant the price of admission. If you’re looking for something quick and easy to park the children in front of and stop them climbing the walls during a rainy afternoon, then this could be it. Otherwise it’s the case that there might be something else out there that will hold your attention, as well as warranting your money, a lot more.