Sky Gamblers: Afterburner comes from developer Atypical Games to Nintendo Switch. It is a ground-up re-imagining of the iOS game, Sky Gamblers Infinite, which was critically lauded for being a technically amazing feat for getting it to run on the mobile platform.
The visual bar had been set high for Sky Gamblers on the Switch and I’m glad to report it looks beautiful when running at 720p in handheld mode. This is why I’m also sad to report that when docked there are just too many glitches and slowdown issues that detract from the action.
The basis of the game is a standard dogfighting sim in the vein of Top Gun. It starts off with a paper-thin storyline, a training exercise that goes horribly wrong. As you hunt down supposedly unarmed drones it is rumoured that the second in command of the fleet has committed treason. It turns out to be true! He has betrayed everyone by filling the drones with live ammo. The basic story has started and leads us head-on into the high flying action sections.
What happens thereafter I won’t go into in much detail. Every beat this story has to offer, over the fifteen missions, is predictable and cliched so you will guess what’s coming next before it happens. The voice-over is enjoyable but, as you can guess, it is equally as cheesy as the cliched story being told. Towards the end of the fifteen campaign missions I just didn’t have the drive to continue because of my aforementioned issues.
I was hoping Sky Gamblers: Afterburner would be a great game as throughout my youth I have spent a lot of time playing both traditional and arcade flight-sims. The game itself is actually fun to play which is the important part but it does have it’s fair share of issues. Not being able to invert controls or make any substantial changes within the game while on missions was just a tad frustrating. You have four different views to choose from but only one of them is any use to be honest and that’s the cockpit view. You can actually track the enemies you are chasing but in all the other views it’s really difficult. In these views it’s even a challenge to maintain speed at height. The load times aren’t particularly good either, not as egregious as Bloodborne when it first came out but more comparable to Lara Croft go on the Vita.
Sky Gamblers: Afterburner starts off well, albeit the paper-thin storyline, but soon outstays its welcome. There are only fifteen missions but unfortunately with very little going this becomes an extremely shallow experience with little to keep you interested. The game very quickly became repetitive and overall is purely mediocre. With a little more love and development time it could have been a lot more fun. Potentially through updates the story can be tweaked and improved as this is the biggest portion of the game. There is a multiplayer mode to add a new element but at the time of reviewing no one seemed to be playing it. With the slew of average mobile games appearing on the Switch this situation keeps occurring. Port, upscale and resell resulting in extremely shallow and content light titles.
Beard Score: 5/10
Nintendo Switch Essentials:
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 07/02/2019
No. of Players: 1-14
Category: Arcade Flight Sim
Publisher: Atypical Games
Download link: eShop