Along with zombies, ninjas, Nazis, and robots, alien invaders are one of the more perfect archetypal video game foils--they're aggressive, they're plentiful, and they're easy for everyone to want to hate. Under the Skin turns the tables on you, putting you in the role of an antagonistic alien named Cosmi who has arrived on Earth, not so much in search of world domination or to kill all humans, but just to really annoy everyone. It's an interesting idea to play the part of the invading alien, and there's a very colorful, bizarre visual style at work here, but the single-player game is short, the gameplay is simple, and the game just doesn't seem to go anywhere.
Destroy all humans? Nah, Cosmi just wants to get them all flustered.
Cosmi is from Planet Mischief. The rules on Planet Mischief dictate that, once a mischiefian turns three, he or she is packed up and sent off to another planet to prove that he or she can cause trouble, as a sort of a right of passage. Cosmi has bigger plans, though, and chooses to be sent to Earth for his prank-filled vision quest. It's well known throughout the universe that Earth is populated by the most cunningly vicious and barbaric creatures in the cosmos--humans. If Cosmi can cause enough trouble on Earth, not only will he have completed his right of passage, but he'll also return to Planet Mischief a hero.
So, as Cosmi, a short, blue, bigheaded alien with a squeaky voice and a pair of diapers, you head out into the world to irritate all the earthlings you can find. Your natural appearance makes it impossible for you to go about unnoticed, so you'll have to steal the identity of an actual human with your handy ray gun. Once you've sucked them up with your alien technology, you'll have to find one of the low-flying UFOs that are scattered throughout all the levels before you can transmogrify. When you're wearing the human disguise, the other people milling about the level won't give you any trouble--that is, until you start messing with them. For whatever reason, every person has five "prank slots," and assuming the form of a person you've zapped will also give you access to whatever they had in their prank slots. These pranks run from basic schoolyard stuff--tacks on the ground, some especially pungent flatulence--to some seriously over-the-top stuff like land-shark attacks, a stampede of elephants, and giant hamburgers that fall from the sky.
Pulling a prank on someone will cause him or her to spout out a handful of coins. Each level presents you with a time limit and some sort of coin-based objective, which usually involves hording as many as you possibly can. Anyone you pull a prank on will instantly become steaming mad, and will start chasing you and trying to give you the beating that you so richly deserve. Getting hit once will knock you down to your skivvies, Ghosts 'N Goblins style, which tends to get you some weird looks from other people on the street, but a second hit will cause you to lose a significant number of coins, and it will also cause you to revert to your natural alien appearance, which really freaks people out. The only way to get people you've pranked to leave you alone is to steal another person's appearance and head to one of those transmogrifying UFOs.