Review: Sky Force Anniversary (PS Vita)

Also on: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Steam

I always get a kick out of a good arcade shoot-em-up. There’s something about mowing down aircrafts with legions of bullets that always grants the instant gratification the arcade era is known for. I’m glad that modern gaming generations have acknowledged that, since there are still plenty of arcade-like shooting games being made to this day. Well, even if not every one of them can reach the heights of their ancestors…In this case, we’ve got Sky Force Anniversary, a game in a series that I’ve only heard of recently. It just so happens that the series celebrated 10 years of longevity.

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Graphics 

The visuals in Sky Force Anniversary are fairly stellar. They are designed in 3D, but have the feel and style of a 2D game. Backgrounds are thoroughly detailed and the action is flashy and pops with the assistance of enemy explosions – just the way arcade-shooting games should have it! If anything, the scenery is prone to being rather repetitive. Multiple stages use the same environments, so of course that could be a problem.

Audio

The music is okay. Sky Force Anniversary has sort of a chiptune soundtrack going for it. It can even be catchy at times; however the variety is lacking. As for sound effects…….Eh. They’re serviceable. There’s nothing more I could really elaborate on.

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Gameplay

If you weren’t able to tell from the screenshots or have not played many games in this genre, Sky Force Anniversary essentially plays similarly to games like Capcom’s 1942. The stage automatically scrolls vertically as waves of enemies stylistically fly around and sometimes shoot at the player. Things get taken a little further with enemies that vary in the sizes of their health bars, as well as machines on land that will take even more damage to defeat. As weapon upgrades are collected and more significant upgrades purchased from the shop are utilized, however, the player can have an easier time taking down these enemies as he or she dodges the bullets in sight.

As with many games of its kind, Sky Force Anniversary is enjoyable. It could only be fun to avoid and shoot in this type of gameplay. The unfortunate thing is that the satisfactions can grind to a halt when the Game Over text appears. No, you don’t restart from the very beginning! What Sky Force does is arguably just as repetitive, though. You see, the player is tasked with getting medals as he or she is out in the air killing stuff. There are four types of medals: Killing 70% of enemy forces, 100%, rescuing all the humans that need to be saved, and avoiding getting hit at all. That sounds fine and well for the over-achievers, but progressing to the next level requires the player to earn some of those medals first. It’s not so bad at first, but it piles up. And it turns the game into “Play the same level a few times to move on”. The upgrades from the store add to this since enemies are prone to easily taking out the player in later stages.

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Verdict

There’s a good game to be had here, but it’s buried under unnecessary upgrade-and-medal collecting. I’d much rather just play Sky Force Anniversary the whole way through without having to worry about doing all of that stuff. Since that can’t be done, I could only recommend this game to so many people. If you don’t mind having to play a level repeatedly to get stuff, then maybe you could be more forgiving of this game. I’m just not really a fan of doing that.

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