Sky Force Anniversary Review
If you have been listening to the podcast then you know that my first love is a great rythm based game, but my second love is a fantastic shmup (or shoot-em-up) vertial scroller. The first time I played 1942 as a kid in the arcade I was hooked and since then there have been amazing games such as Ikaruga that have stolen hours upon hours of my time. When I saw Sky Force Anniversary pop up in the eShop a few weeks ago I was immediatelly intrigued, especially seeing it was only $10. As I started scrolling through the description and realizing that this classic from 2004 had been remastered back in 2014 to critical acclaim, I knew I had to pick it up.
Sky Force has a few core gameplay elements beyond the normal shmup get to the end of the level and get the biggest chain possible. Through each level (9 in total) you are tasked with 4 tasks:
- Kill 75% of enemies
- Kill 100% of enemies
- Rescue all Humans
- Stay Untouched
Completing each of these earn you a medal that you will need to progress to future levels and also getting a 100% on a level will unlock a harder difficulty to earn even more medals. In total each level has 4 different difficulties that increase enemies health and bullets. I found myself going back to each level over and over again attempting to get as many medals as I could. Seeing that each level is only a few minutes and vary vastly between each other it was a real joy and never got old.
In addition to all of this you are tasked with collecting as many stars as possible while completing a level, that are dropped from exploded enemies and destructibles in the level. These stars are the in game currency that are used to upgrade your ship with better weapons, new abilities such as sucking up stars, advanced weapons, and better shields. Collecting stars never felt like a chore or a grind since they naturally fall from ships as you complete levels. As you progress through the game your ship upgrades along the way and this helps you complete the new levels and also return to older levels at harder difficulties.
Everything about the ships movements, upgrades, and progression is spot on. It truely feels like a fine tuned game that has had years of polish... I mean it is technically 14 years old at this point, but it is really solid.
Graphics and Sound
Some people don't expect much out of a shmup, but Sky Force doesn't disappoint in both graphics and sound. Attention to detail is excellent as the landscapes that you fly over are crafted with love. All of the graphics in the game really pop from the ship and enemy design down to the lovely water and waterfall effects that flow throughout the game. I am honestly impressed with the amount of love that went into this game. I also want to point out that the menu system in this game is very nice too with a cool slanted look to it. Everything is well designed and spot on.
Since you often play the same level over and over again music and sound effects are very important in a game like this and again Sky Force doesn't let you down here. The soundtrack is relatively simple with a techno beat and the sound effects for bullets and explosions are what you would expect, but all sound good and I never minded playing for hours on end.
What can I say I simply loved Sky Force and you can quote me on this, it is the perfect shmup for the Nintendo Switch. Everything about this game is flawless and is an absolute must buy for anyone that even remotely enjoys a shmup. In fact even if you don't like shmups you should still buy this game because it is just that good.
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This game was reviewed by James Montemagno who purchased it from the Nintendo eShop at full price and was played to completion (and then some).
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