Darkened Skye for Nintendo GameCube
Developed by Boston Animation

My most recent move in this intrepid chess-match we call the Hot Potato Toss, I beset Illusion Master with Batman: Dark Tomorrow, which I correctly predicted would inflict some serious misery on my colleague. And I knew the Master would be certain to respond to my kick to his gaming shins with a suitable form of revenge. But the target of its wrath was most unexpected – it was my mind.

I had never heard of Darkened Skye, nor had I noticed it in stores. This immediately gave me an uneasy feeling. Anonymous games are often total crap, but just as often, the heavily hyped games also end up sucking, so it kind of balances out. So I went in with a cautiously guarded open mind.

The game starts out as a very typical fantasy-based third-person adventure, a la the Tomb Raider series. You get a fairly lengthy cutscene at the beginning, introducing our heroine – Skye, of course – and getting the obligatory backstory out of the way. She's bored with her life as a "dwentil" herder, wants some excitement, blah blah blah, her dwentil runs away, she chases it – and then the weirdness begins.

During the incredibly exciting dwentil chase, Skye finds on an orange jewel on the ground. On closer inspection, we see the jewel is small, round, and it has a large white letter "S" on it.

Wait a minute … IS THAT A FUCKING SKITTLE??? No, it can't be … can it?

A couple minutes later, Skye finds a creature floating in her path. The creature introduces himself as Draak, thereby also introducing the next utterly baffling aspect of the game – Draak sounds like a shitty stand-up comic, with painful jokes in full effect.

As the game finally gets going, it reveals itself to be pretty standard fare. Creatures attack, and you beat them up with your staff. (For once, I'll allow the reader to make his or her own "beating with a staff" joke here.) Combat can be annoying, since there is no targeting function, so you have to just swing wildly and hope you hit something, much like my raging drunk and blind grandmother.

As you go, you encounter other creatures and things along the way, and the cutscenes continue to get stranger and stranger. Basically, Draak is a stand-up comic, and Skye is the proverbial straight man. Eventually, you meet a typical "wise old woman" character, to whom you show the jewel. She responds with something like "Why that, young missy, is a SKITTLES!!!"

Uhhhh … what?

After that, the game just becomes a complete fog. You run around, picking up Skittles and fighting. The Skittles – and that's apparently both the singular and plural form of the word – are missing, and you have to find them to reunite the Warriors of the Rainbow, so they can defeat the evil Necroth or something like that.

The Skittles are used to create magical spells that Skye can cast, and that's basically their only function. There's more basic fighting, and puzzle-solving, and platform jumping. It's territory done many many times before, in many many games. You learn more spells as you pick up Skittles, and that's about it.

I can't figure this game out at all. The Skittles tie-in is just plain bizarre. What marketing wizard hatched this plan? And how did they sell it? And then, how did they end up actually making a fairly decent game out of it? In the age where any movie-licensed videogame is generally to be avoided like the plague, how the hell did they license a freaking CANDY and make a reasonably entertaining game out of it?

Most of the entertainment comes from the game's humor, mostly sarcastic, and some of it surprisingly self-aware. At some points, Skye even interacts directly with the player. The voice acting is impeccable, just adding to the bafflement factor. There is some seriousness to be found, but for the most part, the game is almost a parody of these kind of games. It's like playing a videogame version of The Princess Bride.

I have to hand it to the developers. They got this completely off-the-wall license, and then had to come up with some way to shoehorn it into a game. Somewhere along the line, they must have decided that a "serious" game just wasn't going to work with the Skittles theme. So off they went into parody.

Definitely one of the most unique and peculiar videogame experiences I've ever had. I'm just grateful my nefarious colleague chose this for me to review instead of Dial F for FABULOUS!: A Christopher Lowell Murder Mystery. That game is fucking AWFUL.

Review by Mario Speedwagon