Lizards just aren't funny. They just aren't funny to look at, unlike ducks, and even if they had the capability to talk, I'm pretty much sure that they wouldn't be able to deliver a punchline properly. I'm racking my brains here, but I honestly can't think of a funny lizard character in a game – I can't even think of a good lizard joke... actually, I lie, there is one, but I wouldn't be allowed to write it here (Look up 'monkey and lizard joke' in your favourite search engine if you want to read it). Besides, it's only got a lizard in it, and said lizard does nothing funny in the joke at all. Does that mean that it's a bad idea to try to make a lizard funny? Well, enter Scaler, the hero of the piece in this 3D platformer from Take Two, a lizard-loving (but not in a physical way) boy that is accidentally turned into a lizard himself and then finds himself trying to save his universe. According to the official blurb he's 'Sneaky, elusive, witty and hysterical'... I'm not so sure about that, but Scaler is a decent game anyway, and released at a budget price point to boot.
Like almost every other 3D platformer released, Scaler is a bright and cartoony affair and has plenty of detail around the objects and scenery that adorn the levels, although misses the mass of background detail that appears in the likes of Ratchet & Clank or the Jak & Daxter series. Like those better examples of the genre, Scaler has an almost infinite draw distance, but also suffers with not being able to see much in front of the character when moving towards the camera, and the usual 3D platform jumping problems (i.e. It's tricky to judge jumps between platforms because of the lack of depth perception, and the camera moving while in mid-jump, causing the character to change direction in flight and miss the platform). Luckily, platform jumps in the game are quite easy, and not a regular occurrence. Most of the game requires you to navigate the levels, and take out lots of little enemies (as well as the occasional big one) with your claw or tongue attack on the way to finding the eggs scattered around the levels. As well as navigating platforms, Scaler can ride along vines (which wind through the level like a rollercoaster), and even climb along some walls and ceilings. Some levels will allow you to transform Scaler into other creatures that have special abilities, such as flying or dropping bombs, and will generally require you to do so at some point to get to one of the eggs on that level.
As well as the aforementioned graphical style, the game also shares a similar sort of soundtrack as other 3D platformers - original and somewhat funky, but ultimately forgettable. The same also applies for the sound effects – nothing wrong with them, but they're not really any more than you'd expect. The voice acting for the characters is pretty good though, suitably comic and delivered with plenty of enthusiasm – certainly enough to get you interested in the characters – which is a shame, because there are some rather gaping holes in the plot development through the game. The first cut scene explains how Scaler came into being, but fails to explain any of the back plot, or indeed who the hell anyone else is, or why you should guide Scaler to do what he's supposed to do. It's a disappointment, as there was certainly the underpinnings of a decent, fun (if slightly contrived) plot there.
Scaler is a fairly easy game – if our blue-skinned hero happens to die he'll just reappear back a very short way with only a little to redo. However, the difficulty can occasionally go off the scale when you'd least expect it – you might beat one of the big bosses quite easily, but a simple (but required) mid-level encounter with a small group of creatures may cause you to consider lobbing the DVD out of the window. The difficulty is generally okay for younger kids, but you are going to have to get your gaming face on occasionally to help out your children.
Overall, Scaler is a good game, but isn't on a par with any of the titles in either the Jak or Ratchet and Clank series. If you are looking for a budget priced platformer I would suggest that you take a look at the titles in these series that have been reduced to the budget price points. However, if you've played these already then Scaler is almost certainly the next best thing.