I don't know why - and being loath to stare a gift-horse in the kisser, I don't particularly care - but lately there seems to be something of a backlash against the current frenzy of first-person 3-D action shooters: Abuse from Crack Dot Com, Hunter Hunted from Sierra On-line, and now SkullCracker, from the most unlikely of sources, Cyberflix. In the dark and cartoonish SkullCracker, you take the role of a freelance crime-fighting street brawler, prowling a lethal hand-drawn cartoon city that is immediately reminiscent of something from Cool World or maybe Heavy Traffic.
You're out to stop (or at least hinder) the ongoing citywide war between rival gangs of supernatural bikers and various assorted JDs - comprised, incidentally, of werewolves, mutant rats, leather-jacketed monstrosities, and all manner of freakish thugs, high and ultra-violent on Goop (which might be enhanced ice cream, and might be PCP - the point is never really addressed, and you have too many things to fight to worry about that now). In the most pragmatic arcade-game terms, your immediate job is to take to the streets and alleys, punching, kicking, and headbutting the living daylights out of anything on two or more legs. Along the way, you'll find objects to pick up, switches to activate, and a grimy urban environment to interact with. Jump on top of mailboxes and trash cans (or kick them out of your way), stomp into-the-screen down darkened alleys that hold time bonuses and power-ups, or simply plow left-to-right with the expected combinations of jump/kick and punch moves. This may sound terribly boring, and concept-wise, it is; but part of the fun of SkullCracker is the sheer dark cartoonery of the backgrounds. Beyond that, nothing even remotely new is going on here. Those with a predilection for 50's-style monsters and 90's-style urban grit may have a few nights' worth of spasmodic scroller-combat awaiting them, but most of SkullCracker is a fairly mild-recipe monster mash.