I’ve been playing sky force on mobile for hours and was bubbly at the chance to play it on Switch. The console variation offers a widescreen view with different takes on gameplay that are all around better for the player and keep you coming back for another round. Let’s get right into this top-down shooter.
You’re started off with a shell of a plane that you can upgrade between runs, this is my absolute favourite part of this game. Collect stars and use them to add new weapons or improve your current weapons. There are 8 total options to upgrade that will make completing missions easier. The game forces you to play the same levels repeatedly but in a good way, allow me to explain. There are different difficulties that each have the same missions:
- Destroy 70% of enemies
- Destroy 100% of enemies
- Rescue all pilots
- Complete level untouched
It’s impossible to keep track of a certain percentage of enemies so just do your best to kill them all. Ships, autocannons, vehicles, HUGE boss planes, and tanks are some examples of enemies. They don’t get boring like most shmup enemies, this is done well with changing environments.
I would describe the graphics as 2.5D as there is a depth to the level design. You can see the trees and mountains towering over the landscapes, ground enemies attacking below flying enemies, the game does a great job of making the background interesting. Stage 03 has an explosion that hurls debris toward the foreground and shows that this isn’t a flat, boring, 2D game. They don’t skimp out on details. Look closely at the water you’ll see reflections of the sun and clouds, look further and you’ll see rocks and formations under water. Everything looks great. They don’t just copy and paste the background at all. There are walkways attached to the mountains, dirt trails on the ground, tire treads on said dirt trails. Many small details to admire in this game.
Rescuing pilots is simply hovering over a pilot until a circular bar is filled. The game scales the difficulty of completing the bar with each level in interesting ways, forcing you to weigh the consequences on the fly. Should I stay here for an extra second to fill the bar, or should I avoid the bullet stream and come back around? Will I have enough screen time if I wait?
Completing a level untouched is usually the last medal I get, sometimes paired with destroying 100% of enemies. This may be the more difficult medal to complete as you progress. I’ve lost track of smaller enemies blue bullets in the midst of explosions, just to get hit once and kill my run. Try not to rage quit as you can still collect stars and other collectables.
Once you complete these four objectives the game will allow you to do them again but on a higher difficulty. Each time you complete an objective it will add to your count of medals. Consecutive levels require higher amounts of medals in order to play them. You can try to complete missions immediately on higher levels once unlocked but you’re likely to fail. The game gives you the chance to play them but will encourage you to move on to a different level and collect starts to upgrade your weapons. Below are the available upgrades for your ship:
- Main Cannon
- Wing Cannons
- Energy Shield
- Mega Bomb
Upgrading your main cannon is smart because your ship will begin each level with boosted damage. Magnet is very helpful to draw in stars, health and upgrades etc. Missiles are a personal favourite of mine because they’ve saved my butt so many times. They are homing missiles that will change their target if the one it’s aimed for is destroyed.
Certain enemies will be glowing which indicates if destroyed, they will drop a weapon upgrade that will increase your main cannon speed/damage. Even if you’re not looking to obtain the 70% or 100% medal, it’s smart to at least shoot the glowing enemies. They’re easy to point out in a crowd of normie enemies and will make each medal that much easier to obtain.
The game may seem a bit slow paced but just wait until you play on the third tier of difficulty per level. Enemies shoot more bullets, have more health, decision making must be quicker, and overall the game is more fun. You can’t just mozy on through the stages you’ve beaten ten times by now, all the details you overlooked will now come to light. There are more clouds in the sky for enemies to emerge from, you can no longer sustain enemy fire with multiple hits, more decisions must be calculated prior to beginning a run. Am I solely going to collect the pilots? Should I just try to survive the level to make a plan of attack? Maybe you go to previous levels and grind for some stars. The game looks great and has multiple layers of fun this unfold the further you progress, kind of impressive for a shoot’em up.
Not only is this a great pick-up-and-play game as most shmups are, the replayability is also very high. I wish there were more medals to obtain per level though, and some variation would make the game better in that sense. I love this game and I would recommend it to others. Thanks for reading!
Beard Score: 8/10
Platform Nintendo Switch
Release Date Nov 08, 2018
No. of Players 2 players simultaneous
Category Arcade, Action, Other
Publisher Infinite Dreams Inc.
Developer Infinite Dreams / Crunching Koalas