by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Flying onto the big screen
Shooty Skies is a game that has been available on mobile devices for a couple of years, so with the relatively surprising news that it was coming to PC, I was rather interested how the game would fare. Having already played Shooty Skies on mobile device, I was already aware of what I was in for with the newly released Steam version...fast paced action in a colourful environment with a range of wacky characters. What I didn’t know, was how this was going to translate to the larger screen of a PC.
For those unfamiliar with the mobile versions, Shooty Skies plays out like the 1980’s Arcade game 1942 whereby you control an airplane (with an array of cute characters) and shoot at whatever target comes your way, scoring points for each kill. Moving up and down the screen, and left and right across it, you dodge enemy attacks and shoot at any foes. As you move around, the screen scrolls down and enemies appear from all angles. Like any game from the arcade era, gamers gain the use of power-ups as they progress through the continuous levels, whilst the intensity picks up the further you journey.
The main difference from the mobile version is, of course, the switch from the narrow view of the mobile screen to the widescreen of the PC. This has its advantages and disadvantages over the narrower mobile screen. Firstly, the wider version means that there is more room to move around, enabling your little pilot to avoid enemies and their projectiles. The wider screen also means that things can be happening on each side of the screen at once, meaning that you almost need two sets of eyes in order to see what is happening at any time.
Shooty Skies gives gamers the choice of four beginning intensity levels. Each starts off at a reasonably slow pace, but as you progress and destroy the bosses for each level, the intensity picks up. After a few bosses have been defeated, the enemies give you little time to relax as they begin attacking all at once. Luckily, along with the range of power-ups – including some weird and wonderful missiles - you can be accompanied through short periods of the battle by a range of wingmen. Some wingmen are more effective than others though, with Party Bear only giving you a boost to your score and not helping at all with combat. On the other hand, Hyper Raybot fires a powerful laser that destroys most enemies in a single hit.
An overload of cuteness
Visually, Shooty Skies is vibrant and colourful and has the cube look associated with the mobile version. There are over 200 cute characters to unlock (via mystery box or purchase of the in-game currency) and each plays within their own setting. Each setting has its own look, from the green forests of Shooty Cat’s homeland to the dark spooky setting of the Halloween-style characters. Martian landscapes, Old West settings and watery locales are just some of the many background settings that can be unlocked, each with a handful of playable pilots as well as an array of enemy characters set on downing your plane. The lay-out is quite clear, with the score and coins clearly displayed and for the early part of the game, the levels are quite open and dodging enemies and their projectile is reasonably easy. But when the pace gets frantic, it is often difficult to determine friendly fire (especially from Batwing) from those of enemies. I also found that some of the settings made it easier to play, due to the colours, whilst other settings made picking up enemy projectiles that much harder, especially when the intensity has picked up on the higher levels.
The game makes use of some wonderful retro audio. As enemies scroll down the screen, the sound effects have a Space Invaders or Galaga sound to them. Rockets whoosh around the screen and destroyed enemies explode into a fiery burst. The development team has also made the PC version of Shooty Skies rather accessible, by allowing control via mouse, keyboard or gamepad. Each works equally well, and will depend on the user preference.
Play in short bursts
Shooty Skies isn’t the sort of game that you’ll play for hours on end, but it will suffice to get you through a lunch break at work. The daily challenges are fun and will get you coming back each day, whilst the main game is a throwback to classic arcade top-down shooters such as Space Invaders, Galaga, and the previously mentioned 1942. With a host of collectibles and simple addictive gameplay, Shooty Skies will have gamers playing ‘just one more turn’ as they try and top their best score. And with loads of colour and fun, upbeat audio, there is no reason why Shooty Skies shouldn’t be in your Steam Library. Especially when it’s free.
Simple, fun gameplay. Cute and colourful visuals.
Not a heap of variation in gameplay