Skabooki delivers charming voodoo puzzler with personality

Posted: August 3, 2009 in Puzzle

One of the trends in the iTunes store is releasing half finished games, which to the dismay of many will likely only continue. That is why it’s a nice surprise when you come across a game that really feels complete and delivers solid, entertaining fun. Skabooki is that game and is easily one I hope receives the recognition it deserves. It’s simply an excellent puzzle game with a load of charm and personality, not to mention a ton of levels and intriguing story.

The creative storyline centers on a witch doctor and his daughter, spirits from the other side, and a voodoo doll. The witch doctor has created this voodoo doll by the name of Skabooki that takes the brunt of any pain his daughter feels. Of course, this creates an imbalance on the other side where the spirits have vowed to keep it away from the daughter. Comprised of 12 chapters, the story gradually unfolds during the course of the game in the form of segments unlocked as more levels are completed, which also creates a bit of suspense with a rather interesting story mysterious in tone.

Visually, the game has a peculiar look because each puzzle consists of colored blocks with an animated Skabooki at the top and an exit at the bottom of the screen. The objective is to help Skabooki reach that exit by clearing blocks of the same color. The catch of course is that Skabooki cannot be moved directly, and instead relies on various elements within the game to get him where he needs to go. Soundtrackwise, this game has rich musical tracks that exude a sort of lighthearted, yet morbid happiness. The tracks are memorable and catchy enough that I don’t find them repetitive at all.

The game has 100 levels and three levels of difficulty: Zombie, Shaman, and Witch Doctor (think easy, medium and hard sort of). Zombie provides an extended time limit; Shaman provides as many lives; and Witch Doctor allows for double the points. Obviously, determining which suits you is important, but you can change modes through the game at any level.

The rules are simple: touch matching sets of 3 or more blocks to clear them to help Skabooki reach the exit. Clearing all the blocks isn’t the primary objective although it is technically possible to do so while getting Skabooki to the exit. A timer in the form of a melting candle is in play, and you risk losing lives if the timer expires or if Skabooki meets his demise. There are special blocks that can be used to move him along.

Arrow Blocks—move Skabooki in a specific, one-way direction
Ice Blocks—slide Skabooki along until he reaches the end of the ice blocks; can be used with Arrow blocks to generate momentum
Prismatic Blocks—change through colors of the rainbow
Indestructible Blocks—cannot be removed
Clear Blocks—can cause the demise of Skabooki and difficult to see

Certain power-ups are available to help Skabooki and increase your score.

Candles—provide additional time
Teleporters—enable Skabooki to travel to different locations

In a game about black magic and voodoo dolls, you knew magic potions would be there somewhere. A magic potion bottle gradually fills up as matches are made with a full bottle acting as a score multiplier. Bonus points are also provided for clearing the screen (not necessary but it is possible) and for completing the puzzle with half the time still remaining. While starting with 3 lives, an additional life is earned at every 10,000 points.

Skabooki also has an achievement system consisting of 28 awards with names such as Super Big Mojo, Super Curser, Tastemaker, and The Cleaner among others. These are awarded for such things as clearing blocks, meeting time requirements and completing certain puzzles. In addition, there is a Cast a Spell feature, and these are codes that the developer will release at a later date on its Facebook page.

The gameplay is challenging, and difficulty ramps up gradually. Everything I’ve described so far is well integrated creating a game of logic and strategic thinking. Each puzzle requires a bit of thinking ahead, and in some cases, involves clearing and positioning blocks while Skabooki is in motion. He can be sliding along the ice, and require blocks cleared before he reaches the area if he’s to have any hope of exiting. Quick action, dexterity and timing are as important as the planning. In many cases, clearing blocks just because you can is the wrong strategy, often creating more problems than it solves. And, don’t be surprised if you find yourself re-doing levels over and over again. Throughout, Skabooki is animated enough that you’ll know he’s either cold or waiting impatiently for your next move.

Skabooki is complete game and extremely well done when it comes to content, visuals and the overall presentation. While a logic puzzler at heart, the game’s tone created by the story and the animation really make it enjoyable. The personality and charm make this game a winner and has enough character to set itself apart from similar games.

Albie Meter: 5 Stars (charming puzzler that delivers a unique experience that comes highly recommended; full entertainment value with a ton of content and replayability)

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