Twitter Is Losing It Over The New King Kong Game

There are a lot of big games coming out in October: Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Forza Motorsport, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Alan Wake 2, Cities: Skylines 2… and many more. Things are so busy that it would be easy for smaller releases to fly under the radar. Most people, myself included, didn’t even know that there was a new King Kong game releasing this month, and maybe it would have been better if it stayed that way.


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A clip went viral on Twitter earlier today, containing a cutscene from Skull Island: Rise of Kong. In it, we see the titular ape fighting what looks like some sort of purple dinosaur, but most egregiously, it showcases popping textures, badly rendered graphics, and a static picture of the beast being fought. Understandably, people are ruthlessly making fun of it in the replies, with many believing it may even be worse than Daedalic Entertainment’s The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum, which was infamously panned across the board earlier this year. Many have also criticised it for having graphics you’d see in a PS2 game.

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I want to try to be generous. Despite the game not being out yet, there is inexplicably already a video on YouTube with three and a half hours of gameplay. I am tempted to say that the art style looks kind of cel-shaded, like Borderlands, almost, except I know that Borderlands is painstakingly hand-painted and inked while Skull Island: Rise of Kong has clearly repeated textures and is worse in every possible way. It is, unfortunately, as ugly as gamers say.

Rise of Kong bills itself as a third-person action-adventure where you watch Kong develop into his fully-powered final form. You fight “primal beasts”, “traverse the mysterious island”, and “uncover lore and secrets”. That seems to be all the game is, really – you are a big gorilla-monster who beats things up and jumps around a forest. From the gameplay walkthrough I linked above, most of the game seems to be punching things, climbing vines, smashing rocks, and shouting. Combat looks incredibly boring. There is little story to speak of. I don’t know why this game exists.

I keep returning to The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Both games have a surprising amount in common. Both use licensed IP, though Skull Island does this in a very roundabout way: King Kong of Skull Island is owned by DeVito artworks, is based on a rewrite of the original 1932 novelisation of the King Kong movie, and is published by license through the estate of Kong’s original creator. Gollum was criticised for its bad mechanics and visuals, and if a single person ends up playing Skull Island, I’m sure it’ll get the same reception. I don’t think anyone will, though, because the game is more or less shovelware. IP-driven shovelware, but shovelware nonetheless. It’s yet another attempt to sell a mediocre game on the strength of a name brand, despite the product itself having next to no substance.

In Gollum’s case, Daedalic Entertainment was at the very least a legit studio with a history of making middling to good games, most of which were point-and-click. Compare this to Skull Island developer IguanaBee, which has mostly worked with corporate clients, including Hasbro, Cartoon Network, Wacom, LG, and most importantly, GameMill. This game was published by GameMill, a publisher known mostly for games like Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2, Big Buck Hunter Arcade, NERF Legends, and Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues. The majority of these games have poor reviews, because they’re blatant cash grabs.

So, fine, it’s bullshit made to earn money. But I have to ask how? In what world would this game have been profitable? Who would have paid $40 to own this game on PS5 or Xbox? In an era where studios are shuttering left, right, and centre, who is churning out bad games, charging this high price for them, and not ending up shut down within months? I have no way of knowing, but I’m mad about it. It seems extraordinarily brazen to be releasing games of this calibre when the industry is so precarious, but capitalism reigns, I suppose. Publishers will release blatantly bad games, gamers will complain about it, and nothing will change.

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