Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sky Kid

Ahh, Sky Kid! Namco's obscure offering to the side-scrolling shooter world. Konami gave us Gradius, Taito gave us Darius, Irem gave us R-Type, and Namco gives us Sky Kid.

First of all, you absolutely CAN NOT compare Sky Kid to any of those side-scroller figureheads. Namco is known for their simple, addictive, quarter-eating arcade-style games, and that's exactly what they've given us here.

In Sky Kid for the NES, you play as the "Baron" (there's also a 2-player co-op mode where the second player is "Max") flying a cute little red bi-plane with your scarf blowing in the wind as you fly over enemy territory. The object of the game, at its core, is to survive to the end of the level However, you are bombarded by enemy planes, tanks, anti-aircraft fire, and later on, boats and hot air balloons. On top of that, halfway through the level, there is a bomb awaiting you on the ground. You are to swoop in & pick up the bomb, then drop it on the enemy base (which, interestingly, seems to bear the Nazi eagle symbol.) Hitting the base right smack in the middle awards you the most points, but hitting it at all gives you a slight bonus.

A unique mechanic of this game is that, although you are sent
spiraling to the ground with one hit, you have an opportunity to save yourself. Mashing the B-button repeatedly will pull your biplane out of the dive and back into the action! However, if you're carrying a bomb when hit, you drop it & cannot attack the enemy base.

Also, you can perform loop-the-loops to dodge enemy fire and, in many cases, end up behind the enemy fighter, giving you a clear shot.

At the end of the level, you must land your plane on a runway. Doing so completes the level, with the game throwing a message at you to the effect of "nice landing!" So, to reiterate, the only real object of the game is to get to the end and land your plane. However, any arcade veteran will tell you that it's not about getting to the end of the level, but the points you score on the way.

Sky Kid may seem a little odd at first, given its cute style & upbeat, militaristic overtones, but it's crazy addictive & even more fun to play with a friend. There's not much depth to the gameplay, but there's plenty of fun to be had trying to outmaneuver the opposing planes, timing the bomb just right so you hit the base dead-on, pulling out of a potential crash and making a spectacular comeback, etc. The game is pure fun, and I urge you to pick up a (dirt cheap) copy & invite a friend over for some "Baron & Max"-style Nazi ass-kicking!

5 out of 5 stars!

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