Developed by Deluxeware and published by Astraware, Golden Skull is a match the colours (in this case gems) puzzle game.
You play Saeed and you must recover a sacred Golden Skull from Mayan Ruins. To do this you must clear each level of gems, and collect 5 golden coins to progress to the next level, eventually making it to the Mayan temple and collecting the golden skull.
Each level is filled with various gems. To clear them you must match groups together by touching them. Clearing larger combos of gems will yield more points, and as they are cleared, more fall from the top of the screen. Once you have accumulated enough points, a golden coin will appear. Collect 5 of these and you will move on to the next level. Later levels see more variations of gems, so matching larger groups could get tougher. If you get to a point where none of the same gems are adjoining each other, the game is over and you’ll have to start all over again.
All this is wrapped up in a story about how you (Saeed) owe some money for gambling and so agree to help a professor friend to uncover a lost golden skull, and ultimately pay back your debts. As you travel through each level you are joined by a guide who takes you from place to place (level to level).
While this story starts off interesting enough in the introduction, it doesn’t really go anywhere. In between levels your guide spouts the same thing time after time, with out any plot development. Some dangers on your journey with some bad guys would have added to this, but in the end the story is rushed to conclusion. Ultimately you have to wonder why the story was added at all.
This brings me onto my major complaint about the game, and that is there isn’t really any challenge. There are four difficulty settings: Baby, Real, Master and Top guy. On the first three settings I made it to the end in one play through with out ever getting stuck, but even on the hardest setting there was little or no threat that I was going to lose. In fact at one point I was randomly tapping the screen, like I was on auto pilot. Unfortunately, for me this makes for a broken experience. There is little or no reason (save high scores) to keep going, let alone repeat the experience once complete.
The game features some good presentation with brightly coloured graphics all with a Mayan theme. The game screen is easy on the eye with clearly defined gems and the story is nicely illustrated in a hand drawn style, although some animation in these scenes would have been nice. The menu system is also clear and simple to navigate. However this is pretty much wasted on the gameplay.
Presentation & Graphics: 6
The game looks nice enough, all fits with the Mayan theme, and features some good illustrated artwork. But it’s all very static! The story element is a good idea, but it doesn’t lead anywhere exciting and is ultimately just a way of sugar coating the game into something its not.
Golden skull features minimal sound effects, with no music, instead allowing you to play your own, but without the clinks of the gems as you clear them (my preferred choice!).
If you like randomly tapping the screen then you may like this game, for anyone looking for any kind of puzzle challenge. This Mayan ruin isn’t worth a look.
Game life: 1
If you can get to the end without falling asleep, then you’ve got the most this game has to offer.
Game rating: 3
This game is a wasted opportunity, the opening intro is as good as it gets. The gameplay is severely lacking, er….well GAMEPLAY, especially in this already saturated market of matching puzzlers.
Golden Skull is available for $2.99 here