I’m a sucker for any sort of arcade shooter. I grew up on them and have since fallen in love with their challenge, graphics and required skills. Yet, finding a good shmup on the iPad has been difficult…and in many cases, expensive. Thankfully Sky Force 2014 has filled the void…temporarily at least.
You can, of course, find many of the all-time best shooters on the iPad already but they come at a price. Classics like Dodonpachi and Deathsmiles (both from Cave) clock in at $12 per game. On one hand, that’s the full game. No IAPs or extra downloads. Full game, 12 bucks. On the other hand, the experience on the iPad for these games is less than spectacular. They’re playable but bullet hell games just need fine controls, something your finger doesn’t offer.
Sky Force 2014
Sky Force 2014, a sequel of a 2004 game (which was news to me) finds a nice balance between arcade challenge and gameplay. Sky Force isn’t a bullet hell game like the Cave games but rather a more “traditional” shooter along the lines of Star Force or Soldier Blade. However, that doesn’t mean Sky Force lacks difficulty. It’s still a challenge playing with your fingers but at least in Sky Force I feel that problem can be overcome whereas with Dodonpachi it’s just about impossible to the point where you don’t even try.
The first Sky Force game was released in 2004 with a sequel in 2006, neither of which I have played before. From what I found on YouTube, both games look pretty solid with everything you’d expect in the genre. I saw Sky Force 2014 listed in the App Store with a price tag of “Free” so I couldn’t not try it out.
Best on the tablet
On my iPhone 4 the game barely played. I don’t blame the game, I blame the phone. Of course, any shooter on the phone is going to be trouble even with a new phone. It’s hard to dodge bullets when your thumb takes up half the screen. But put Sky Force on your tablet and you’re all set.
The graphics are gorgeous in that quasi-3D style that just makes me smile. I don’t need 16-bit graphics to make me happy but I don’t need full on 3D either. I’m always bummed when I read about a good game or see a title only to find out it’s a 3D FPS-style game. I know I’m odd man out in this way but hey, I like what I like.
Controls in Sky Force aren’t bad either. Your ship keeps up with your finger well and you have the option of direct control or offset control. Direct control puts the ship right under your finger whereas offset controls put the ship slightly above your finger. I prefer offset because it lets me see the hitbox on the plane better than trying to dodge bullets with my fat finger.
The mechanics of Sky Force are what you would expect. You move around shooting and collecting stars. You then use those stars to upgrade your ship. Within each level there are also people that you need to rescue and doing so will earn you more points and unlocks.
If I have any complaints about Sky Force it’s the slight of hand they’ve used to try and get you to pay for things. Your plane starts out with the most basic of weapons and upgrades can cost you a lot of stars. You get stars naturally while playing but they come slowly…more slowly than you want so you’re always tempted to lay down some cash to get some weapons that do some damage. I’ve managed to get to the third stage without any purchasing but I sense the Wall of Difficulty is right around the corner.
Overall, Sky Force 2014 is a great shooter that should satisfy any shmup fan. It’s not Espgaluda or Star Soldier but considering other (cheap) offerings on the iPad, Sky Force is worth having…and it’s probably worth a couple bucks of in-app purchases too. If nothing else, I’ll put a few bucks in the pot with the hopes the developers make a Sky Force sequel. We’ve all had enough candy matching for one decade, lets bring back some real fun.
Sky Force 2014