New King Kong Game Is Very, Very Bad

Hey, good news! It’s been a long time, but we finally got a new King Kong video game. Bad news, Skull Island: Rise of Kong appears an ugly mess of a thing and it might be the worst game of 2023. Yes, even worse than Gollum.

Announced in July, Skull Island: Rise of Kong is the first King Kong video game in nearly 20 years. The last game featuring the loveable big ape who sometimes fights Godzilla was 2005’s *deep breath* Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie. That game was developed by Ubisoft and while not perfect, was a really interesting mix of first-person combat and third-person action. It had players switching between Kong and a human throughout the adventure, while experimenting with no HUD. Skull Island: Rise of Kong, on the other hand, is just a bland beat-’em-up with bad cutscenes, nasty visuals, and not much else.

Skull Island: Rise of Kong, out now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, was flying mostly under the radar following its Summer reveal. That changed on October 16 when users on Twitter began posting clips of the game, and the internet quickly began dunking on it.

In the clip above, posted by user RickDaSquirrel, we see a cutscene that appears to include a badly cut-out static jpeg standing in for a memory from Kong’s past. After remembering that picture, Kong awkwardly leaps into action, and then beats the ground as smoothly as a broken animatronic on some long-forgotten abandoned Disney ride.

Another clip from that same user, who was playing the game on Switch, shows awful performance problems during a small fight against some crabs.

YouTuber MKIceAndFire has uploaded a video showcasing the first hours of the game, and it only makes Skull Island look worse.

Combat looks boring as you fight the same basic enemies in similar-looking environments while music endlessly loops behind the action. At one point, Kong’s mom—who is looking for baby Kong in a playable flashback—leaps to the ground and a cutscene interrupts her landing, causing the impact sound to frantically repeat over and over again during the entire scene.

After Kong’s parents die, the young ape runs away during a storm and looks down at a puddle. This scene is meant to be sad. However, because the tech behind the game isn’t great, Kong’s reflection is a blurry, pixelated mess that lingers for far too long.

A screenshot of Skull Island shows a bad reflection of Kong.

So yeah, needless to say, this isn’t a great game. It’s possible that the later parts of Skull Island: Rise of Kong get better, but I’m not looking to spend $40 to find out.

Online the chatter has turned from dunking on the game to suggesting that this might be the worst game of 2023, beating Gollum. And I might be inclined to agree, especially because the actual worst game of 2023—that crappy Last of Us clone exclusive to the Switch—was removed from the eShop earlier this year.

So congratulations Skull Island: Rise of Kong, the internet now thinks you are either the worst or the second-worst game of 2023. Your trophy is in the mail.


Awful King Kong Game Was Made In A Year By Overworked Devs

Skull Island: Rise of Kong was released earlier this week and was quickly derided as one of the worst games of 2023. What happened? Well, a new report claims it was made by a small team of developers on a tight budget in just one year, putting the studio in a situation where making something good, both quickly and cheaply, would be nearly impossible.

Announced earlier this summer, Skull Island: Rise of Kong is the first King Kong video game in nearly two decades. The last game featuring the famous giant ape was 2005’s Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie which was developed by Ubisoft. Since then, folks have been waiting for another King Kong game, and on October 17, we finally got one. But sadly, Skull Island: Rise of Kong is a bland beat-’em-up with awful cutscenes, nasty visuals, and not much else. So what happened? Why is this game so bad? Well, it appears you can blame Skull Island’s publisher.

In a new report from The Verge, developers from IguanaBee—a small indie studio based in Santiago, Chile— spoke anonymously with the outlet and explained that Skull Island’s publisher, Game Mill, gave the team only one year to develop the game from scratch.

“The development process of this game was started in June of [2022] and it was aimed to end on June 2nd [of] this year. So one-year development process,” said one dev behind the King Kong game.

Kotaku has reached out to Game Mill about the report.

Game Mill / IGN

According to other developers at the indie studio, Game Mill—a U.S. publisher of many not-so-great video games—frequently uses smaller teams of developers to create licensed video games in similarly short amounts of time. Devs at IguanaBee claimed that Game Mill wouldn’t provide teams with “all the information” about the project, leading to frustration and forcing teams to “improvise with the limited information” they had.

Other complaints suggest Game Mill wasn’t willing to provide enough money for IgaunaBee to maintain a large, skilled staff of developers. Sources tell The Verge that for most of Skull Island’s development, only around two to 20 people were working on it. As you might expect, at least one developer reported that crunch happened, and it was bad.

“The crunch was really set in motion in February,” said the anonymous developer. “I was on automatic pilot by the end of February because all hope was lost.”

According to The Verge, even though developing the game was tough and the money wasn’t great, some folks on the team still take pride in what they were able to ship in such a short time under such difficult circumstances, with one former dev sharing on social media that they were still “proud” of IguanaBee’s King Kong game.


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