Skip Kong is an endless runner of sorts, with simple controls and a pretty basic gameplay loop. Developed by Finale, you control a female gorilla insistent on collecting her favorite food! That, of course, would be bananas. As you bounce from wall to wall, you'll need to avoid obstacles by tapping the screen. The end goal is get as high as possible before dying and collect the sweet yellow fruits. Toted in the description as an “endless time-killer that will captivate every last bit of your free time”, Skip Kong makes a lot of big promises, but does it deliver on them?
If you've played an endless game before (Flappy Bird, Temple Run, etc), you'll have a pretty decent idea of the gameplay loop before you even play. For those who have managed to somehow avoid games in the “endless” genre before, the game has a small tutorial to teach you the ropes. Like I said earlier, height is the overall objective of the game, and scaling the vine-covered walls in Skip Kong is quite basic. Each jump will send you towards the other wall, and you can choose the height of your jump. While you don't get a ton of precision, the ability to change your jump height is the main advantage you have. By tapping the screen, Lady Kong will hop quickly to the opposite end. By pressing and holding the screen, you'll gain a bit of verticality on your leap.
The game's pixel art style is nice to look at, but the level remains the same (at least I never changed for me). That means, although the background is of high quality, you'll be starting at the same thing for the entire time. The animation is neat as well, with some flowing waterfalls and the idle breathing of your ape on screen. My highest score is 428 points, and on my way to earning that high score, I only encountered spikes. Bested only in the cliché category by red barrels, I found the repetition of hopping over spikes to wear a bit thin after a while.
As you scale the level, you'll frequently run into jetpacks. These jetpacks boost you quite a distance up the level, avoiding all obstacles. Your jetpack can be upgraded to fly you further by spending units in the store. You accrue units with a 1-1 ratio on your score. Meaning, if you score 40 points in a round, you'll gain 40 points to use. I found most of my early attempts ended around 100 points, so even beginner players shouldn't have too big of an issue collecting enough units to purchase upgrades. Of course, these units can be purchase with real cash, allowing you to skip the work required. There's two skins to unlock, upgrades for your jetpack, a score multiplier you can activate, and bananas that serve as a single use live saver.
If you want to unlock the two additional skins and upgrade your jetpack a bit, you won't end up spending more than $5 USD. You can watch a 30 second advertisement for a quick 40 units, but it actually takes longer this way. Without even paying attention or avoiding obstacles, you can quickly gain 40 units in under 15 seconds. Daily gifts can be redeemed to get some life-saving bananas, which can also be bought for 200 units in the shop. In a completely baffling move, Finale actually charges you more for buying larger sums of units. 30,000 units is $1, but for some reason the 60,000 option is $3. That's a 50% increase in price for the same amount of units, for those following along at home.
The game looks good visually and by simply adding a “daily challenge” or even a small list of overarching challenges, Skip Kong would be infinitely better. Additionally, new backgrounds (or at the very least, a palette swap) would also help relieve some of the monotony. Finally, I strongly recommend the developers go back and change their pricing on the premium currency. Buying larger sums of premium currency should save the player money, not charge them more.
All things told, Skip Kong won't “captivate every last bit of your free time” like it says in its pitch. However, it will entertain you for a few hours, and isn't a bad time-killer to revisit when you need a quick gaming fix. Hopefully, Finale will continue to update the game and pay attention to fan feedback. The game is free to play, so I recommend you try out Skip Kong, even if it's purely to check out the animation and the art style. It's a game that (with some work) could turn out to be greatly rewarding and entertaining; it just needs a bit more time in the oven.
Reviewed by Matt
Watch Skip Kong Trailer