DARKENED SKYE / Simon and Schuster / Gamecube
Hmm ... stealthy Skittles propaganda? Though it's not mentioned explicitly on the packaging anywhere, this game apparently recieved a hefty sum of production funds from the Skittles candy people. You're in a fairly generic fantasy world where the goal is to recover 5 magical Skittles before some evil buttlord does, and the health pickups look suspiciously like red Skittles as well.

The gameplay is in the lineage of Tomb Raider, but despite the Skittles money it appears to still be a shoestring production, so the gameplay is even clunkier. You play as this sheepherder chick who primarily weilds a staff, but can also pick up a handful of other weapons like magical mines and arrows. The combat is clunky and graceless ... you press L to swing the staff once, or hold up while pressing it to turn into some whirling dervish of death for a few seconds. The enemies generally give no fucks about your hits though, and just charge at you mindlessly stopping only to take big hacks with their own weapons. With no "defend" option of any sort, you just sort of awkwardly dance back and forth trying to time your hits without taking a return hit. Actually, it doesn't even really matter if you get hit all that much since every enemy poops out red Skittles when you kill them.

Still, I guess the gameplay would be passable (in an extremely basic and low expectations sort of way) if the camera wasn't kind of a mess. Ostensibly you can rotate it freely using the C-stick. I think totally free rotation ended up being too much of a challenge for the dev team, however, so it's more like the illusion of free rotation, but you have to snap to certain angles or the camera will start drifting around unhelpfully instead. It's kind of hard to describe, but it's annoying as shit. If you don't place the camera at an "acceptable" angle, it starts drifting like there's something wrong with your C-stick basically.

The graphics are also pretty low-budget, looking more like a Dreamcast production than Gamecube caliber, and the music is forgettable "ye olde ren-feste" stuff that's just sort of off in the background quietly. All that's left is the story and dialogue ... I've seen some old reviews trumpeting this as the one redeeming factor due to the "sense of humor." Well, if you like sub-Disney snark (mostly from the requisite small flying sidekick) and Cheeto Nerd spaz humor, I guess. It's one of those games that seems to think that by acting self-aware of its cliched writing and corporate whoresmanship and cracking bad snarky jokes about it throughout, somehow that makes it all less shit somehow. It really doesn't.
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