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Punky Skunk (PlayStation) artwork

Punky Skunk (PlayStation) review


"Because when I picture a badass, I think of a skunk on a pogo stick."



Some could argue that Punky Skunk was released at the wrong time, on the wrong console. I guess the logic in that is it could've had a better chance at success during the 16-bit days where animal mascots were a thing, instead of the PlayStation's reign where violent and gritty titles like Loaded, Tekken, and Twisted Metal ruled the day. The reasoning behind this is crazy, since it would require one to come to the conclusion that Punky Skunk is a solid game, a lost classic that met unwarranted injustice by the gaming masses of the period. Even if it had a release on the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo, I still believe it would have met with poor reception, because there's just waaayyy too many things wrong with the product, even for a game based around an animal mascot.

First off, the dev team failed the moment they decided to use a skunk as a protagonist. Of all the creatures to pick from the animal kingdom, you settled with a skunk? A punky one, no less. I mean, I know a hedgehog seemed a bit far-fetched at first, but it wasn't totally out of the question. A skunk, on the other hand, has always been associated with stank, so I'm sure no one wanted to play a hero who attacks enemies with a bad whiff. Also to ensure the game would sell as few copies as possible, Jaleco made one of the most unattractive PS1 covers, a Disney-esque drawing of Punky's head placed in front of a pink and orange swirl. You see it again at the back of the manual, on the disc, and at the title screen. It's almost like they wanted to go out of business.

What about the actual game? It's a sad, by-the-numbers, 2D platformer. You'll attack mice with your smell, jump on platforms with little effort, and reach a flag pole at the end of every level in such short and mundanely-designed layouts. The only positives I can make about the stages is that each one has a varied, unique look, from the snowy forests and cities with giant, pixilated fish, to pyramids and sky mazes. You've experienced or seen this style a million times already, and in better-executed titles. Even its gimmick of getting through most stages using specific power-ups get bland, since they're terrible or flat out boring. This mascot with an attitude loves extreme sports, proclaims the back of the case, so you'll questionably use a surfboard to slide clumsily through a toy land with bad pit and enemy placement, use skates with slippery handling to jump over spikes and small platforms, and slllowly pogo jump your way to the top of a huge forest. Because when I picture a badass, I think of a skunk on a pogo stick.

A different kind of pain will be bestowed upon your senses as the confrontation with a big, eye-patched wolf in space (you can't make this stuff up) comes ever closer. The game's got jokes... so many awful jokes. Every load screen offers the same image of Punky releasing a yellow cloud from behind, with the words "Chill out!" encased, and since this screen pops up after every brief stage, it will be ingrained into your mind. Each stage usually has a title, a spin on things, like Da Bomb or Tomb Wader, and even more horrific, when you pause the game, the word PAWS will appear, accompanied with two furry hands. I somehow missed this the first time, but I have an explanation for that: it was such a dreadful joke that my brain decided to erase the incident from memory. Shame it didn't do the same for the whole experience.

Rating: 3/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (April 01, 2012)

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