Top floor carnage
While the world (im)patiently waits for Nintendo’s next instalment of the mother of all brawlers that are undoubtedly going to take the top spot, Ground Shatter has understandably thrown their up-scrolling, competitive brawler on to the eShop to take advantage of the Smash-hype. But is it worth of a spot on your growing list of quality indie titles?
If you’re looking for a beat ‘em up that packs a punch with a heartfelt story, a script that’ll keep hooked with in-depth dialogue – or even title that offers up boss fights – turn away now; you won’t get them here. What you will find, however, is surprisingly accessible, arcade-y and quickly addictive multiplayer game that’s great in short bursts but much better played with friends.
Pitted up against a maximum of three other fighters, you jump your way up a collapsing building while using the falling – and often deadly – debris to navigate around opponents and descending danger. Reach the top and you’ll instantly win, but climbing to the victorious roof area isn’t as straightforward as it first sounds; the AI does a decent job of slicing, punching and kicking you all in the effort to get your health bar to 0.
There’s no doubt that it’s a simple affair here. Using the left analogue stick or the directional buttons to frantically stay away from burning rocks and your foe’s flailing limbs, and a combination of A and B to attack, you’ll pick up the basics within a matter of minutes. This is where Sky Scrappers excels – the simplistic approach readily makes this indie game one to bring out at parties or when you have your mates over.
Each fighter has the same battle characteristics – albeit with different skins – meaning there are no balancing issues to contend with. Each has their own style of movement – they all fundamentally work the same. Before a battle, the chosen fighters will exchange some awkward – and sometimes entertaining – lines of text and then it’s go time.
With the (preferred) option to flip your switch into ‘tate’ mode and play the game vertically with the console safely in a stand, arcade nostalgia begins to creep in. It’s helped by the uncomplicated controls, easy-to-understand formula and carried further as the title boasts a retro-sounding soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of place at your local bowling alley. Thankfully, these factors almost make up for the lacklustre visuals, but with games being over in a matter of a few minutes, you’re certainly not here to take in the sights.
Sky Scrappers fails to hit the note on many levels that stop it from being a memorable classic and the lack of modes is immediately disappointing. There’s arcade mode and multiplayer – essentially arcade mode with friends – but that’s it. Sure, it’s undoubtedly designed for quick play sessions, but there’s no real draw to revisit unless you’re showing a newcomer buddy the game for the first time.
We would have liked to see the formula of ‘scrapping’ mixed up a bit. The omission of items is difficult to swallow, and although grabbing a glowing orb that allows your character to perform a somewhat random special attack that deals heavy damage, having an extra load of weapons or abilities at our disposal would improve this simple brawler.
An online leaderboard, a simple online one-on-one feature or some extra move sets with over-the-top special attacks would make this game reach new heights, but that’s not what Sky Scrappers is about and it’s not afraid to keep things painfully straightforward.