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December 5, 2004
Under The Skin - Review
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That's a lot of money flying.
Capcom's Production Studio 4 really needs to be applauded of late. Not only are they responsible for the highly respectable Viewtiful Joe but they are coming up with some wonderfully originally titles for gamers. Fortunately these aren't restricted to the Japanese market but are also making their way to America and Europe. Under the Skin is one such title, and a title which certainly plays as whacky as it looks. Of course the storyline is just as crazy.

When residents of Planet Trick turn three they must head towards a different galactic star for ‘trick training.' These underlings are not allowed to return home until they've reached mischief maturity and have achieved victory over their cunning rivals who happen to occupy the same planet they’ve chosen to inhabit. In Under the Skin, players take on the role of Cosmi who is an impish alien embarking on the road to adulthood. If growing up wasn’t hard enough, Cosmi has taken upon himself to choose the farthest and most dangerous planet to wreak havoc onto its barbaric creatures, Earth. Can our resident alien pass through his training on Earth unscathed and return home to a hero’s welcome?

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Some more funky graphics.
Gameplay in Under The Skin sees players taking the identities of different players you encounter through CoCo Town in order to sneak past unsuspecting people and/or perform pranks on them. Gamers can scan and absorb the DNA of anyone in the game work and then take their forms. While in these forms your aim you earn the ability to perform five pranks to cause as much disruption as possible in order to collect coins dropped by other people within the level. When you use up these five pranks it's time to change appearance. Cause too much mayhem, however, and it's likely to get you in trouble. In order to win the game, simply collect as many coins as possible. Sound easy? It may be, but some of the things you can do such as turning humans into bowling pins to knock them over with large bowling balls, leaving a trail of farts behind you or warping around the levels are tremendous fun.

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C'mon guys, which game is this?
Unfortunately Under The Skin isn't quite as exciting as it should be. The novelty wears off pretty quick with the coin collecting becoming tiresome. The movement of you character is slow... you just wish there was a run button, or something to speed up the gameplay. I'm not sure if this is due to the PAL version of the game, or a design flaw, but it should have been sped up a little bit. Another issue I have with the game is the prank system, which seems totally random. Perhaps if the developers had looked at a more standard combo/prank type system the game may have more of a strategic element rather then the randomness which it has ended up with. Sadly, you'll also pretty much see the entire game within the first level or so. There's little else to challenge/excite you after that cutting the games longevity down immeasurably.

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Causing Mayhem.
Graphics in this game use cel-shading to pretty good effect. It's not quite up there with the best of them, that accolade still holds with Jet Set Radio on Dreamcast in my opinion, however it's more then functional. The colours are bright, the animation, while not great, is adequate. One of the great additions to this game is the "Resident Evil land". Yes, you heard right, the developers have based an entire level around Raccoon City. Unfortunately the game could have done with a bit more work in the camera department. It's pretty average.

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WTF... Cosmi???
Sound is pretty impressive in this title. The speech is humorous and the one-liners impressive. The music is also pretty zany and suits the entire game perfectly. Unfortunately it runs a little thin pretty quickly and you may become disappointed within a short amount of time.

If you like crazy Japanese games then this game will probably keep you interested for some time. My main complaint is that this game, for $79.95, isn't good value for money. You would be much, MUCH better off purchasing Capcom's recent classic Viewtiful Joe which is available for around only $50 if you shop around. Under The Skin is a bit of a miss, but remember you can win a copy by clicking here.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSNot the best use of cel-shading ever, but adequate for this game.
SOUNDWhile good voices and whacky music ensue, it becomes repetitive.
GAMEPLAYUnder The Skin is a fun title, but lacks depth of gameplay.
VALUEIt's fun in bursts, but sustained entertainment isn't quite there.
OVERALLUnder The Skin certainly isn't as exciting as Capcom's Viewtiful Joe, but you know what, it's quite entertaining in a weird kind of way. Recommended for fans of the zany world…

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