Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Skyriders [Inverse Blue] - $1.99

Back in July, we had the chance to review Starbounder, a level-based star-ship ‘runner’. Unfortunately, we did have some issues with it; no GameCenter support, and it was a bit bland, needing something more than nice level design to push it forward. Yesterday, we got our hands on Inverse Blue’s (developers of the speedrun plat former, Little Acorns) Skyriders, and were instantly reminded of Starbounder, which also had us wondering if Skyriders could excel where Starbounder didn’t. By the 4th level in the first zone, we had our answer. Yes - by leaps and bounds.

Skyriders puts you in control of an alien in a UFO as you travel across 5 zones and 40 levels collecting stars, boosting, comboing, building up your score, changing polarity and basically just trying to stay alive throughout the insanely well designed levels. With GameCenter integration including 6 leaderboards, one for each of the 5 challenge levels and a total score board, along with 32 achievements, there’s loads of replay value here. At the end of each Zone, there is a challenge level that strings together the last 7 stages in one long level, giving players the chance to build up massively big boost streaks, and huge scores. Luckily, that’s not the only thing pushing players to go back and replay levels for better scores and perfect runs.

The game also includes an upgrade system where you can spend points to increase your Star Grabbing range, Boost Combo Time, Score Multiplier, Acceleration Speed and Shield Power. You’re given one point for every 1 million total points that you score, with each upgradeable stat able to be increased 5 times. Not only does this help to increase your scores and get through the levels a little easier, but with the score increase upgrade, it also allows for replaying of levels again after fully upgrading in order to try and totally max out your score, moving up the leaderboards. 

The graphics, physics, level design and animations are top notch as well, helping to drive the action packed gameplay forward throughout all 5 zones. Like just about all games, the first zone is fairly easy, especially after you get a hang of the changing polarities and physics that feel like they were ripped out of a skiing game, pulling you down to the lowest part of the track, you’ll be able to use the spot on controls and physics in conjunction with the level designs to pull off some pretty slick moves, increasing your score, and upping the game’s entertainment value. The graphics, while pretty generic, are still very polished and smooth. There’s nothing that’ll really stand out, but in a game where what you’re really focusing on is the next jump, how to use sections of the track properly, collecting stars and avoiding hazards, graphic sections of the world, making anything but what you need to focus on your focal point of attention, would become bothersome or just be avoiding anyway. And on lower end devices would also result in lag and frameskips, hurting the gameplay as well. That’s not to say that the graphics here are not special, all of the starry backgrounds and lit up tracks work exceptionally well together, creating a universe that lets you focus on exactly what needs to be focused on. The animations for jumping and speeding up look great, and do add to the atmospheric feeling found within the game as well. 

Aside from the amazing level design, the polarity shifting is really where the challenge for scoring and getting perfect runs comes in. Your character is able to double jump. Each time this happens, the UFO’s polarity changes. At the beginning of each stage, you’re usually able to choose between going after Red or Yellow stars first, this will have a pretty large impact on how you play through the rest of the stage. Once you start, the first star that you collect will give your UFO it’s beginning polarity. In order to collect more stars, there-by carrying on your boosting streak and combo, you will need to double jump, changing the ships polarity color. Each star that you collect fills up your boost meter, which is also filled by running over the boosting pads on the tracks. The larger your combo, the bigger your score, and the closer you’ll get to that next upgrade point. 

With the GameCenter leaderboards, achievements and upgrades driving the replay value and drive to perfect your scores, along with the 40 very well designed levels, options for touch and tilt controls and smooth gameplay, there’s a lot to love in Skyriders, especially being Universal and priced at $1.99. If you’re a fan of platforming racers, or arcade, high-score driven games, it’s definitely one that you’ll need to check out. Aside from Skybounder and Cosmic Cab, this 3D, behind-the-back, racing platforming genre really doesn’t have much competition, but at the moment, Skyriders has set the new standard for what’s expected in future additions to it. What makes it even better? There’s no IAP to be found anywhere within the game. If there was ever a perfect, shining example of an indie made title to model your game after, this would be it. Inverse Blue has done an outstanding job here, and I hope we get to see much more from them as the AppStore grows and expands even more. 


Post a Comment