There’s something deeply nostalgic about top down scrolling shooter games. You could say the genre was born from a fabled forefather; Space Invaders. In the last four decades, there have been some truly outstanding titles, and some that are best left untouched. Thankfully however, Sky Force Anniversary is the former.
For those unaware, Sky Force started life as a mobile game and its first major release came on iOS in 2009. However, this is the first game in the series to come to Xbox.
Starting out you are given a basic, but moderately powerful, ship to blast your way through enemies with. But what becomes immediately apparent is the difficulty level. Sky Force has given a strong nod to the old school. There are no lives. One death, and you’re back to the title screen. Unforgiving is an understatement. But don’t let that deter you, this is where the true nature of the game starts to unveil itself.
With every kill, you are rewarded with stars to collect. This forms the in-game currency for upgrades. Once you have played through a level a few times, you’ll soon build up enough stars to add more weapons and improved armor.
Out of the nine stages in Sky Force, you have an abundance of medals to collect at the end of each mission. Without meeting the required quota, you will not be able to progress to the next. It’s entirely possible to finish the first stage and not have achieved enough to move to the next. And this is where Sky Force unleashes its ability to suck you in. A true feeling that you want to better yourself and acquire those medals as it compels you to keep playing.
The mechanics feel solid – it’s tightly tuned with no sloppy or erratic movements.
As you battle your way through each stage, you’ll also encounter humans to save. This can prove to be testing as you hover your ship over them whilst avoiding an array of enemy fire. At the end of each stage, you’ll face off in a boss battle. And this is one area where the game lets itself down slightly. You’ll notice that certain bosses have just been recycled from a previous stage and doubled in number. You already know how to beat them, which leaves you purely taking time to avoid their fire as you chip away at their defenses.
Graphically, Sky Force Anniversary is crisp and beautiful to look at. Its soundtrack is equally appealing, with a retro feel modernised for the current era. But there are instances where you can’t help but be reminded of its mobile gaming roots.
It’s never going to be an easy task to translate a game designed for mobiles to the big screen. Mobile titles are designed for quick, effective fun to pass the time, whilst our home consoles are there to provide a longer, more engaging experience. Sky Force Anniversary has, however, managed to achieve an excellent conversion to Xbox One.
You could easily lose hours – trying to improve, collect more medals to progress and upgrade your weapons. Despite only having nine stages, it’s not a title you will run through in an hour. It demands more of you, tests your skill level, judgment and reactions. And in turn, rewards you with an excellent, fun experience with quality upgrades that will keep you coming back for more. Again, and again.
Sky Force Anniversary is available from the Store from 9 December (pre-order available now) priced £7.99.
Renowned mobile shooter makes assured debut on Xbox One.
Infinite Dreams have managed to achieve a fantastic conversion from mobile to home console. With only minor flaws against its bosses, you can’t help but feel the need to better yourself and move further through Sky Force Anniversary right until the end.