They Call Me ... Skul & The Suit
Basically,and are comic books brought to the computer age. The games have been tacked on, I suppose, to broaden the market from strictly comic vendors to more mainstream venues. But friends, don't be misled by the flashy packaging. If you are looking for a quick video thrill, the games included in this package are not worth even the special introductory price of only ten bucks and change. Based very loosely on the comics they accompany, neither is much better than re-warmed late 80's console gamepacks.
They Call Me ... Skul is an overhead shooter, where you fly your purple-spandexed hero over Comicland, shooting little fireballs of varying colors and speeds at a bunch of clowns standing around on the tops of the buildings (motionless, I might add), waiting for you to torch them. Your only other obstacles in your flight are an unbelievable assortment of radio antennae. They must have had to extend the radio dial another inch to allow for all these stations! Anyway, once you've flown along for a few minutes, without warning, the level ends. No bosses, no fanfare. Just "Congratulations! Here's your points. Now on to Round Two!" The worst part is that Round Two is EXACTLY the same as Round One, except that a few more chumps have bought into the radio business, and the circus has lost a couple more freaks who like high places. Ten levels of that.
The Suit, also supposing some link with the comic of the same name, is a side-scrolling shooter, much like the old favorite Duck Hunt, only less fun. Of the two games in this package, this is slightly more entertaining. At least some of the opponents move around. You aim with the mouse as your view slides left to right along a city scene. Robots pop out from behind curtains and dumpsters, and occasionally you can blow up a garbage can for a different gun. That's about it, though. Like its partner, this one seems to have no distinct ending. You simply play until you die, and it lets you know how many levels you went. In all, a totally dissatisfying experience.
As I said before, Skul and The Suit are basically video comic books. In this aspect they do have some redeeming value. The comic interface is a simple point-and-click system, following a linear, page-by-page setup. Some of the pages contain hidden clues which you access by moving the cursor over active portions of the comic's pages. These lead to subscreens, giving you more details about the characters, or background information on the plot of the comic. I find this the most intriguing aspect of this program, and perhaps the only groundbreaking idea in the whole thing.
I'm no comic aficionado, so I won't comment on the story lines, but They Call Me ... Skul is written by Danny Fingeroth, of Spiderman fame, and the artwork in The Suit is done by Batman's Shawn McManus. The other good feature of these two is that the CD contains decent alternative music from six different bands, playable (except for the first track) on any CD player. There's also some great, creepy mood music, which coincides with certain special areas you can access from the comic pages.
Comic collectors: you might want to check it out, but wait a week or two. You'll feel better about yourself if you can get it on sale, and who knows, your local comic store could start giving these things away just to clear shelf space.