Title: Sky Racket
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Double Dash Studios
Publisher: Double Dash Studios
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: https://www.skyracket.com/https://www.skyracket.com/
Release Date: Out Now
If Pong had a baby with a shmup and then sent that baby to a tennis camp, the result would be Sky Racket, the world’s first shmup breaker. Sky Racket is precisely that, a shoot-em-up mixed with a block breaker. Think Alleyway; only everything is out to kill you.
Presented in a gorgeous 16-bit style, players take control of either Racket Girl or Racket Boy and attempt to take down a rather cute evil villain.
If you’ve played any other shmup before you’d probably have a good idea about what to expect, however, unlike other shooters, there are no bullets here, at least not from the playable characters. In order to inflict damage, our heroes must hit projectiles back at the enemy while trying to avoid everything else on the screen.
You Cannot Be Serious
Like a typical bullet hell game, there are times the screen is filled with quite a number of bullets at once, the trouble is, not all of them can be volleyed back. Any pink bullets must be avoided as one touch of these, or any of the onscreen enemies will reduce the three heart health bar.
Following on from last years’ PC release Sky Racket has now made its way to the Nintendo Switch, hence this review, and it feels at home on the portable console thanks to the fantastic pick-up and play gameplay on offer. It’s perfect for playing on the bus (when we are allowed back outside) thanks to short levels and simplicity.
In fact, other than movement, only 3 buttons are required to make it through the game: one to hit the ball back, one to spin, and one to make use of helpful buddies. Hitting the ball (as I’m calling the returnable bullets) is pretty self-explanatory, you need to hit it back to damage the enemies as the playable characters cannot fire any projectiles themselves.
Spinning allows the characters to move across the screen faster, which is invaluable as they move fairly slowly and are pretty large. Spinning makes dodging incoming dangers that much easier, and one boss, in particular, cannot really be beaten without it. More on those later.
As you progress through Sky Racket, a number of buddies become available. These offer various helpful boosts that make things easier, such as a shield or a barrage of bullets. Thankfully, any of these can be accessed from the hub world, and every player will have their own favorites. For later levels, the shield is a godsend.
Enemies in the game are pretty fun and downright crazy. Well, as long as you find sandwich cats and traffic cone wearing mice crazy. Top these off with blocks to smash means there are plenty of things to destroy with your trusty tennis racket.
Killing things will result in an explosion of collectible stars that will increase high scores, not to mention the ever-increasing combo counter ever-present on the screen until you get hit thanks to an act of stupidity. Maybe that’s just me.
The levels are broken up into five different worlds and, as expected, an end of world boss awaits. The bosses in Sky Racket are mostly awesome. They are fun and offer up much more of a challenge when compared to the normal levels. Plus, how can a giant banana not look awesome? See above.
This does, however, bring me to my first major problem with the game, its difficulty. I found the normal levels to be pretty easy, and I flew through them without an issue and didn’t even die, not once. I was quite disappointed with this and found myself wanting more of a challenge.
Bosses are a whole different ball game. Some of these killed me a lot, especially the stupid Pong themed boss. I spent most of my playtime fighting him and hate him very much. My reward for killing him, a world made up of boss fights, extremely hard boss fights.
There’s always the option to reduce the difficulty, but that’s no fun.
The five worlds on offer are fun and varied, and each one looks lovely in the 16-bit style and the way the background zips by strangely reminded me of Sonic the Hedgehog in his heyday. As I’ve said, the enemies are great and different gimmicks along the way are fun. One world has mushroom spores that make everything incredibly trippy (and made me feel sick) should they be touched. Another sees a giant mech following the player that must be protected from incoming projectiles.
Unfortunately, Sky Racket is a short game, too short and that was a disappointment for me, I wanted more. This is a sign that I enjoyed the game as it kept me wanting. Thankfully, some players will have the desire to come back and keep playing as each level has a set of optional goals to complete.
These goals range from hitting a number of things to completing the level without being hit. Doing all of these will unlock an optional boss battle, at least that’s what I’ve heard, I’m not doing it. Not because I can’t, I just don’t want to. Couple these with the quest for high scores, and at least there are reasons to keep playing.
Shmup and Take My Money
Other than these few issues, I didn’t encounter many more. The rate at which you can swing the racket isn’t as fast as the rate you can push the button; however, this just adds a layer of strategy as you can’t just spam the button to get through.
I didn’t have any issue with a slowdown, and the levels loaded relatively quickly, which isn’t always the case on the Switch. I know that the graphics aren’t exactly the same as a AAA title, but they look great, the controls feel smooth, and the whole package is set to a wonderful retro soundtrack.
As long as you’re aware of the shortness, I would happily recommend the game to anyone. It’s fun to play solo or in the co-op mode and could be ideal for short burst play.
Let us know in the comments your thoughts of Sky Racket, have you played it yet or are you waiting for a sale?
Verdict: Sky Racket is a short but fun game presented in an excellent looking package. The difficulty can be a bit all over the place, but fans of the shmup should find something fun with a game that’s just a bit different.
- Looks and sounds great
- Controls well
- Good enemies
- Too short
- Too easy in places