Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like video game mascot characters are getting lamer as the years go on. Maybe all the cool animals have been taken already, or programmers are giving them less attention than they did in the 1990s, but whatever the case, the current crop of platforming action stars leave me with an empty feeling.
A good example of this is Scaler, a game that allows you to take control of a blue lizard thing that, you guessed it, has a lot of attitude. Before he was turned into that lizard creature, Scaler (AKA Bobby Jenkins) was a teenage rebel. But he wasn’t the type to shoplift or bully other kids, oh no, he went on hunger strikes and lived in a tree for environmental reasons.
The game picks up right after the bad guys capture Bobby Jenkins. They intend to torture him and get the information stuffed away in the teenage boys head. But things go awry and the machine used for torture ends up turning our hero into a large lizard thing, or Scaler. Unfortunately, this accident also sends Scaler into another universe … or a “multiverse” as the instruction manual calls it.
Once in this new world, Scaler confronts another large creature who seems to have a plan to get them out of there, but it involves beating a lot of bosses and collecting a lot of green lizard eggs. After you get your mission directive the story ends and it’s up to you to find those green eggs and get you, and your new pal Leon, out of this alternate universe and back into human shape.
Scaler is made up of a number of good size areas for you to explore, generally containing one or two green eggs. The missions are pretty simple for the most part, nothing more than collect all of the items and explore the area for hidden treasure. As you travel around you will find a bunch of floating yellow dots that can be used to buy character upgrades, such as more life, a stronger attack, and camouflage.
Scaler’s gimmick is that he can morph into other creatures … but only one creature per area. To perform such a feat, Scaler must take out a set amount of that kind of creature before obtaining the skill. Once he can morph it opens up entirely new sections of the world for you to explore, ultimately leading you to more green eggs. The creatures you turn into have special powers, but are also limited in a number of ways. When you’re a Bakudan you can throw bombs at your enemies, but you’re also slow with terrible jumping abilities. The Doozum allows you to fly about, but is hard to get used to and not especially effective at attacking foes. Of the five forms all of them are useful, but you’ll never prefer being one of those characters over your regular Scaler form.
Scaler’s moves aren’t especially inspired, as they involve you punching enemies and using your tongue to pick up items and stun oncoming foes. Even though you can upgrade your character, your moves pretty much remain the same the whole game through. This can lead to some tedious game play, much of which you’ll grow tired of fairly quickly.
Page 1 of 2