‘Scarygirl’ a tame platformer

“Scarygirl” has more adorably creepy charm than the last few Tim Burton movies combined. Unfortunately, run-of-the-mill gameplay reveals that deep down this gothed-out game is just like all the rest.

“Scarygirl” is actually the second 2-D platforming game based off of the titular tentacle-armed star of a graphic novel by Australian artist Nathan Jurevicious. The first game was a web-based and free-to-play affair that told the story of a monstrous-looking girl who was raised by an intelligent and friendly octopus named Blister. The girl eventually sets out on a journey to discover the meaning behind a cryptic dream featuring a man with a very large head.

There’s no denying that “Scarygirl” is overflowing with quirkiness, but the story takes a backseat to the gameplay, leaving the oddball characters feeling like little more than creepily cute cardboard cutouts.

The bizarre characters and story contrast sharply with this game’s traditional 2-D platforming gameplay. It feels like “Donkey Kong Country” with more emphasis on combat. You’ll steer Scarygirl to the right side of the screen while avoiding deadly hedgehogs, owlsnakes, pitfalls and other unfortunate ends. Holding down the jump button will cause Scarygirl to swing her tentacle arm around like a helicopter rotor and allow you to glide short distances to platforms that would normally be out of reach. The helicopter ability can unfortunately be used to fly right over the heads of many of the game’s enemies--ignoring them completely. Though it feels like cheating, you’ll find yourself doing it on reaction after the umpteenth wave of minions make their appearance.

So, why would you want to avoid combat in “Scarygirl?” After all, she can whip out long combos, juggle an airborne enemy by repeatedly swatting them back up in the air, literally squeeze the life out of them or simply hurl them like projectiles. Well, on paper these sound great. However, the loose controls make precise movement and quick reactions difficult. Dodging groups of enemies and aiming projectiles at precise targets is often frustrating due to controls that make you feel like you need to raise your voice and speak very slowly to get them to do what you want. You’ll survive several encounters solely because Scarygirl can take a generous amount of hits before she dies.

“Scarygirl” also allows a second player on the same console to jump in and play as a mystical bunny guru who has different attacks and abilities than Scarygirl. Unlike “Rayman Origins,” another 2-D platformer which allows multiple players, this game only allows two players at once. With that said, it’s still a great feature.

Even though “Scarygirl” is of decent length and has plenty of hard-to-reach collectibles to keep the completionists busy, it has little to offer in terms of replay value. In fact, other than the quirky art style, there’s really nothing to set this 2-D platformer apart from all the rest. Compared to the fantastic platformers like “Rayman Origins” and “Outland” from 2011, “Scarygirl” is just another ho-hum addition to an already crowded genre.

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