It’s so strange for a game to receive this suffix “anniversary” and not be like some sort of really old school videogame series. At first I thought it was just my ignorance about not knowing about this series but digging out I discovered that the original title in this series is as recent as a 2004 mobile release. Later this game went the FTP route and finally we got this game released on PS4, PS3 and VITA.
Those doesn’t sound like the best precents and certainly they’re not but I love my shoot ’em ups and playing them on the go is actually a guilty pleasure of mine so I decided to give this VITA version a try. Now here’s my review from it.
Sky Force Anniversary is a vertical scrolling shoot ’em up game in the same vein as capcom’s 1942. Unlike that classic however, Sky Force also spices up the formula by adding some rpg mechanics in the form of an upgrade system. Plenty of stars will appear when destroying the enemies and by picking those up you’ll later be able to spend them in different upgrades for your ship. Strengthening the main weapon, adding and improving secondary ones and also adding the ability to use power-ups as well.
The controls work like this. You move your ship with the stick and the X will make you shoot regularly. Then the square, triangle and circle are used to use the power-ups. A shield, a powerful laser and the bomb. Those will be dropped by the enemies (though they are rare) or you can just purchase them at the start of the stage.
Talking about stages, progression through them isn’t like on most shoot ’em ups either. To unlock each stage it’s not enough to just survive the previous one. Each stage has different objectives to fulfill like rescuing all civilians, destroying all enemies or avoiding getting hit once. Accomplishing any of those objectives will grant you some sort of badge. Each stage will have you collect a certain number of those badges as well as beating the last stage before you can play them.
The story in SFA, like in most games of this genre, isn’t important nor very thought out. It’s just some baddie with an army that wants to conquer the world by force and you trying to stop him with your ship. There’s really nothing more than that, cutscenes/dialogs aren’t even longer than a few seconds so it’s clear that the story plays a very secondary role under the gameplay.
As I’m moving to talk about the graphics I should remind you that all this time I’ve been talking about the VITA version of this game and so I should say that the graphics for this particular version are great. They’re colorful and really gorgeous I think and the most important is that the framerate holds up very well al throughout the game.
The sound department doesn’t fare bad either. For the music I personally would have preferred something more retro but this electronic choice is pretty catchy as it is and the sound effects are very satisfying as well.
Things I liked
- Nice looking: Graphics are pretty, they look sharp and the whole game performs pretty much flawlessly on the VITA. What’s not to like?
- Satisfying: The game can be pretty tough at times specially if you try to tackle some missions with an underpowered ship but the game controls are perfect and overall it’s fair so eventually you’ll be seeing those enemy ships crumbling down in explosions and it’ll feel great.
- Long: The game has 9 stages which already is a very good number for a game in this genre but because of the whole upgrading system and because the game will have you replaying those stages to accomplish the different objectives, the lifespan of this game is way longer than the average shoot ’em up.
Things I didn’t
- Grindy: Even though it certainly lengthens the game, sometimes you may find unfair that the game makes you repeat stages because your ship simply isn’t powerful enough for the later ones.
- Bosses: Huge creative bossfights is kind of a staple in this genre but the ones in SKA aren’t that special. They’re not bad per se, but they’re certainly not varied enough.
Who’d like this?
This is a very good shoot ’em up and because of the whole upgrading system, this is also a good bang for your buck. Very recommended to fans of the genre.
<This game is “crossbuy-able” across all three platforms PS4, PS3 and VITA>