Sky Force Anniversary never pretends to be anything its not. This retro-inspired vertical shoot em up is a throwback to the old arcade shooters and does a great job of rekindling nostalgia whilst giving the genre a much needed visual update. Although some of the levels are a little repetitive and there’s only 8 levels to boot, the variety of enemies and ability to upgrade the plane with different powers is enough to keep the momentum going through to the conclusive level.
The graphics in Sky Force Anniversary are nicely rendered
Much like the old arcade games, Sky Force has barely any story. It never detracts from the experience though and if anything, helps give it the retro feeling its striving for with the focus squarely on the gameplay. The controls are imple; one button is held down to shoot and the analog stick is used to move around the screen whilst waves of enemies fly across the screen. The aim of the game is solely to traverse the levels, shooting and destroy everything to get to the end boss and finish the level. The more enemies are destroyed, the more stars are dropped which in turn can be used to upgrade the ship between levels. The upgrades themselves are certainly useful and affect level progression significantly. Health increases, weapon damage, special moves and more boast an impressive range of customisation and it can be incredibly rewarding to go back and blitz through early levels with ease when they were initially causing a lot of problems to begin with. It really helps with the notion that your ship is becoming more powerful and Sky Force does a great job of emphasising this.
There’s a good variety of enemies and power ups to stave off tedium
Although the control scheme and gameplay during levels remains simple enough, there’s some clever design choices here to break up the monotony. One level in particular disables the ability to shoot leaving you to rely solely on manoeuvring the plane away from gunfire through the level. On top of this, there are also specific objectives to complete in each level. These ranges from destroying all enemies through to avoiding being hit for the whole level. A full set of 4 medals unlocks a harder difficulty for that level with more powerful enemies and more medals. Most of the later levels in the game have a medal requirement before you can play them too so you may well find yourself grinding the early levels to obtain enough stars to continue. Whilst this might sound like a tedious grind, the medals and special cards you can collect combined with the upgrades accumulated from dropped enemy stars do enough to stave off any tedium.
There’s some nicely designed bosses to end the levels
Sky Force Anniversary is simply a really fun retro shoot em up. The vertical shooter boasts a gorgeous visual aesthetic and the clever use of upgrades and other collectables do a good job of alleviating any tedium that could have built up from the repetitive gameplay. Although there’s only 8 levels to complete, Sky Force does include three different difficulty levels for each one with their own set of objectives to complete for more medals. As a throwback to the forgotten era of top down vertical shooters, Sky Force is a great homage. Its incredibly good fun and the upgrades and level design go a long way to helping achieve this, even if the game is lacking in variety at times. Its unlikely you’ll find such a good looking vertical shooter that nails the old school feel of gameplay quite as well as Sky Force Anniversary and for this reason its hard not to love what the game has achieved here.