Scaler PS2 Review

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under PS2, Retro Content, Retro Reviews

We have come to expect lesser quality from lower-priced titles as far as games are concerned, which isn’t surprising with the amount of cheap rubbish taking up valuable shelve space in stores. There are exceptions of course, full-priced turkeys are not unheard of and cheaper games don’t always have to be laughable and devoid of any fun. Take Scaler for instance, it’s a title that falls into the latter category as a cheap and cheerful title that is well worth a look.

Your scaly avatar is originally of human descendant and this is detailed in the opening sequence, which sees Bobby Jenkins become the character we come to know as Scaler: a shiny blue lizard with many platforming tricks up his sleeve. The plot is entertaining enough and not too far removed from something the kids might see on Saturday morning cartoons.

Scaler does everything by the platforming book and follows the commandments like a man of the church would from a bible. Any gamer worth his salt will obviously know that this means jumping around like a mad man and collecting useful items to aid your usual animal on-screen persona. Those who like something a little different from the norm should therefore probably think again before even bothering to give the game a look.

The obligatory double jump feature speaks for itself in how simple and recycled that Scaler is compared to stable mates Jak and Ratchet, who have both brought good stuff to the genre. But who needs originality when a game is solid and comfortable enough in borrowing ideas from titles that came before it. Scaler himself is a fairly good character to control: with his long tongue, sharp claws, and climbing and sliding abilities, the little lizard can also transform into various forms.

Scaler as a game rarely surprises but these creature transformations have been worked nicely into the game. Some grant you flight and swimming abilities and others allow you to attack obstacles – that are otherwise impassable – with bombs. You’ll learn these as the game progresses and you earn your new vessels. These transformations are vital in some situations and impractical in others, so it’s all well and good that you can flit between Scaler and another form at the instance of a button press.

There’s plenty of collecting to be done in Scaler’s world, which includes everything from Klokkies to Lizard eggs. Klokkies are important pollen particles, which can be later, used to upgrade Scaler’s abilities. Lizard eggs on the other hand act as keys into later levels, meaning the more you collect will result in the more levels being enterable. Finally there’s he crystal gems, which do give you some incentive to explore the environments a little, but persistence doesn’t reward enough and only results in unlocking artwork. If you do manage to uncover the lot an alternate ending does come available though.

The games levels are pleasingly large and do genuinely feel alive and varied enough to dispel boredom setting in. There are times when you have to defeat a number of enemies in a small circular arena to move on and others when you are sliding along vines and avoiding all the obstacles on your roller coaster like path. Then there are obviously the transformations and plenty of jumping, climbing and clawing to be done throughout what is mostly a linear game.

Graphically Scaler is colourful (but thankfully not too bright) and the visual style is commendable enough. Sadly this PS2 version is never totally smooth though and suffers from a dippy frame-rate, it’s not hugely detracting to the experience, but it’s still noticeable enough for us to wish it wasn’t there. That aside the visuals are decent enough and far from the amateurish rubbish we have come to expect from budget titles.

Scaler is a platform title with plenty of character and often challenging gameplay. Whilst the little lizard can’t hold a candle to Jak and Ratchet, the game is still a respectable title, which successfully meshes plenty of formulaic platforming material from numerous games. For the asking price it’s a top quality title that is well worth a look from any self-respecting fan of the genre.

7/10

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