Shooty Skies, hitting the sweet spot

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Another week, another endless blocky arcade game…only this time, it’s a winner.

But let me say, again, that I’m tired of the blocky/pixel/retro style. We’ve hit a tipping point and the first person to develop a similar game without the voxels will be rewarded well.

That being said, Shooty Skies hits a spot near and dear to my heart – arcade shoot ’em ups.

Shooty Skies

Shooty Skies

It’s a laptop cat that shoots floppy disks. So what?

I love a good shmup as much as I love a good root beer float. I’ve played more than I can remember, from Space Invaders to Ikaruga and beyond. I love them. I love their difficulty, I love their “stuff all over the screen” visuals and I love the high score chasing. It’s what games are about.

Shooty Skies is from the same people that made Crossy Road…I know, shocking. And the formula is the same as the latter. An endless game with random patterns. You’re rewarded with coins which can then be used to unlock adorable new characters that have no purpose outside of “collecting them all”. It’s kind of weird but it works.

As a shmup, however, Shooty Skies is even better. As I’ve said, I’ve played a lot and I’m always looking for the next good one…but on the phone it’s been a endless chore (pun intended). Shooters require good control and your finger just isn’t the best way to get that control. There have been a few in recent memory that have handled controls well, like Toy Box, but often it’s the one thing that gets me to stop playing a game.

Shooty Skies managed to find a balance. The touch controls are still less than optimal but the game isn’t exactly a bullet hell shooter either, so you don’t need those super-fine controls for dodging. In fact, I am very surprised that Shooty Skies is enjoyable on the phone, playing with your thumb. It works, it really does. Of course, playing in a tablet is a little better but the phone isn’t unplayable.

The reward system in Shooty Skies is spot on too…a very good risk-to-reward formula. But Shooty Skies does offer one thing Crossy Road and others lack: weapons.

Shooty Skies lets you unlock a small array of weapons using your in-game coins. However, unlocking a gun doesn’t get you unlimited play. Each unlock comes with a timer that counts down…2 hours seems to be the default. So you can play with it for 2 hours before it returns to a locked state.

I thought this use of coins was a nice chance than just spending your coins on characters, but I’ve found the benefit of the unlocked guns isn’t that great. I’m able to get just as far starting with my pea shooter as I am starting with super missiles. The power-ups you get while playing often cancel out presets, but you do get add-on buddies while you’re playing.

So the controls are pretty good and the rewards are fair, but I the thing I love most about Shooty Skies are all the baddies. There’s no rhyme nor reason for any of the things you’re shooting at…and the enemies all fire various goods at you. Flying cats shoot Lego bricks…a vending machine shoots cans of soda, and a toaster shoot Pop-Tarts at you. You know, just another day at the office. It reminded me a lot of Snops Attack on the Xbox 360…and any other weird Japanese shooter. I just love that I don’t have to have a story or even any logic behind what I’m shooting. It’s not about the theme anyway, it’s about your ability to dodge and shoot.

Shooty Skies is free, of course, but asks for your money if you want to unlock a character or get more coins. But regardless, this is one game I will not be able to delete. Ever. I come back to Crossy Road every now and then but I can’t not play a shmup, especially one this easy to pick and put down. Well done, Shooty Skies, well done.

Shooty Skies

8.0 Thumbs welcome
  • Presentation 7
  • Gameplay 8
  • Challenge 8
  • Longevity 9
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About Author

Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

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