AppMonday: Shooty Skies

A couple of the people responsible for the addictive endless Frogger game that is “Crossy Road” are taking another arcade classic and making it endlessly addictive once more.

If you grew up in the 80s to late-90s, there’s a good chance you’ll have visited a video game arcade more than once. For many of us, these were a weekly requirement, as video game consoles and systems were pretty new, and while they allowed us to bring interactive entertainment home, the arcades were where the properly new and better looking games were.

Throughout this time, there was a style of game that helped push out some of the more legendary games of our time: scrolling shooters.

If you’ve played Galaga or Space Invaders, you’ve seen the basic template for the arcade shooter, though the scrolling shooter made the screen in front of you constantly scroll, usually backwards to give the feeling that you were flying towards it, shooting your way into the heart of the enemy.

When this journalist was young, “Raiden” was one of these games, providing a vertical scrolling shooter world where you could fly around your screen while the world around you was constantly changing, as you flew into the heart of enemy territory to take on the enemy.

The first Raiden popped up in 1990, and there have been numerous releases based on the franchise over the years, but when 3D gaming started popping up and games began to get more complicated, the style began to disappear.

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“Shooty Skies” is a recreation of that idea, and it’s an app built by a couple of the developers in charge of mobile hits “Crossy Road” and “Pac-man 256”, a few Aussies working under the developer title of Mighty Games.

The game play is pretty simple and consists of you flying around a little three-dimensional blocky graphic character in a little fighter constantly firing of a barrage of ammunition at the bad guys, which in Shooty Skies are constantly trying to shoot you out of the sky — just like in other vertical scrolling shooters.

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There’s no real story here, and you’ll be thrust into a world where computers, arcade machines, and random tech-related icons are trying to shoot you from the sky, so your only way out is to shoot them back, dragging your finger across the screen left, right, up, and down as your plane and character fires their own crazy tech-related obstacles at you, which you need to avoid otherwise you’ll blow up.

Take your finger off the screen for a bit of time and you’ll charge up an even bigger weapon which will fire the moment you put your finger down, giving you a bit of explosive firepower if you’re tempted to face danger while the bad guys are doing their worst and throwing everything they have at you.

As you play, you’ll rack up points playing the endless game mechanic, and really, there is no end to the game. As you push on, you’ll find boss sections with larger bosses that take more of a beating requiring you to dodge even larger obstacles, but no matter what you do, the game doesn’t really appear to end, giving you hours of play provided you’re good enough to dodge everything and not get blown up.

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Shooty Skies does provide a few ways to help survive the fight, with more powerful weapons you can gain access to for a couple of hours provided you spend coins to get them, and you get these coins by playing the game, blowing enemies up, and grabbing coins.

You can also get extra weapons and even sidekicks by blowing up mystery boxes in the game, which can provide help to your endless arcade shooting quest, at least until you get blown up next, and there’s also an extra continue… at a cost.

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Ah, you knew there was a catch somewhere, but it’s not necessarily the same catch you’ve come to expect.

Instead of asking you to fork over money to keep playing — you know, like most games with freemium content and even the old arcade machine — you might be asked to spend a few of those coins you’ve previously amassed from playing, or even watch an advertisement.

Don't want to spend the coin for a continue? You can always watch an ad. Or just not continue.

Don’t want to spend the coin for a continue? You can always watch an ad. Or just not continue.

Watching an advertisement is exactly what you think it is, and you’ll sit through a 15 to 30 second advertisement for another game, with the end result being that you can continue the game. Leave early and it won’t work, but watch it all the way through — or don’t, because no one’s forcing you to keep your eyes on the screen — and you’ll get a continue.

You can also get specialty boxes every couple of hours with extra coins or weapons, and these add to the fun of the game.

So where’s the freemium content?

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Well, much like how Pac-man 256 had a simple and not so insulting way of throwing in the freemium content, Shooty Skies only makes you get your wallet out if you want to unlock different characters and the various worlds they let you play on.

Other than that, you’re playing with the same crazy retro-inspired 3D block world and characters, with bad guys ranging from boom boxes to computers to YouTube screens to birds to Space Invaders.

Simply put, Shooty Skies is crazy fun that is super addictive, and you won’t feel like you’re being ripped off when you play. Fantastic.

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Shooty Skies is available now for iOS (iPhone and iPad).