Version Reviewed: v1.0
Graphics / Sound [rating:4/5]
Game Controls [rating:4.5/5]
User Interface [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:3/5]
When I was a kid I lived on an island, ao get off the island and visit the rest of the world you had to take a ferry ride. This ferry ride was about an hour long and to kill time they had arcade cabinets ranging from Mortal Kombat to Turtles in Time. To this day I believe this was one of the sources of my love affair with video games. One of those arcade cabinets was 1942 by Capcom. The famous top down world war based military shooter got remade last year on XBLA and PSN networks last summer and sold fairly well, but this review not for that game. Richard Wilson, an ex-Rare developer, has created a fairly faithful homage to that game in Skysmash 1918.
Skysmash is a top down shooter in it's purist form. Top down shooters have chosen a few varying control schemes to try and deal with the fact that your finger is in the way of your plane and having to fire constantly. Here you captain a plane from an overhead view by moving your finger around the screen, and double tapping to activate a variety of secondary effects that are picked up by destroying the enemies on screen. SkySmash decided to go with this simple control scheme and it that works really well here. I'm glad Richard didn't try to do something gimmicky with the accelemerator as some devs have tried to do.
The core gameplay is a straight forward romp through a single player campaign of countless enemies trying to take you out. At the end of each level there are large bosses that try their best to throw as much as they can at you at once. Most shooters really live or die by the boss fights, and Skysmash really holds up well here.
The graphics have a polish and professionalism to them that really add to the overall user experience. From the enemies, to the end level bosses, the explosions and the power ups, everything looks crisp. The simple UI is responsive and is functional. It won't win any design awards, but it does what it needs to.
The entire package is well put together, it's tight, the polish is there but the extra features I like to see in apps to push it to that next level are just not there. Once the user has completed the game, there just isn't any reason to pick it back up. Sure there is improving your score, your firing percentage, etc but overall, I just didn't see much of a reason to pick it back up.
I would have love to seen some online leaderboards, maybe some twitter/facebook integration, alternate gameplay modes. I guess the power of the app store is that these can always be added as updates later, and with the success this game has seen in some territories I hope the dev decides to continue to support and expand the game.
Overall, it's a well polished top down shooter that is a perfect homage to the classic Capcom shooter 1942 but falls short in bringing me back for continued play. In the end though, the game priced right at $0.99. When I was kid I dropped way more then 99 cents into 1942, so in my opinion kids these days have it easy to get unlimited gameplay from these classic gametypes for a mere dollar. Oh well, I won't turn this review into the rant of an aging 80s child.