Sometimes, it’s the simplest of games that are the most addictive. David Scatliffe’s “Mouse No. Probably A Rat” was an example of this (see my last review). So is this arcade offering – Jack Brockley’s “Circum Skull”, which I noticed in the mid-week community links posted just before this review (stuck for games to review – again, if youknow of any games you’d like to see reviewed let me know). This is even simpler than MN.PAR, but still manages to be addictive goodness.
In the game, a skull is firing bullets in 360 degrees. You have to avoid said bullets, which like to twist and turn to make evasion difficult. And, well, that’s it. No firing at the skull, no levelling up. You just avoid bullets. The only difference in later gameplay is that you have to avoid more bullets. The “arena” is a fairly small square, the skull’s in the middle, and you’re hopefully wherever the bullets are not. Circum Skull’s gameplay reminded me a little of one of my previous releases (which I won’t name to avoid self-advertising), but better, because it’s more playable, more fun, and features the addiction-increaser, online highscores.
So, with the incredibly simple gameplay in mind, the graphics don’t have to accomplish much. Circum Skull is an entry into a competition with the theme “retro horror”, which fits – the skull, its bullets and your ship are all blocky, single-colour (well, white) sprites, on a solid black background. The menu follows in the gameplay’s monochrome footsteps. It’s very simple, and very fitting.
The sound is the weakest area. The game’s sound effects are simple and fitting (wonder if I’ll ever get bored of saying that), but it’s the music where the game stumbles. The few-seconds-long loop grates fairly quickly, and has a noticeable delay when looping. It doesn’t break the game, though you might get more enjoyment out of it if you turn your speakers off.
Games are short (if you survive longer than ten seconds you’re doing well), quick to restart, and addictive. I spent several minutes trying to get a score I felt would look good in a screenshot, 69 (I got up to 73 in that game), only to find when submitting it that someone had managed over 500. I blame that on the game’s only problem – corners are pretty much safe zones. Still, well worth the 1.5MB download.