The success of Crossy Road is a paradox that I’m still trying to work out. With age and experience, we’ve all come to accept that, as iconic as it may have been as an arcade trailblazer, Frogger was a little naff. How then, did a spiritual successor take over the world?
We’re still a bit baffled, honestly. Worse still, the people responsible (at least partly reformed as Mighty Games, formerly Hipster Whale) have continued to apply their retro-polygon aesthetics to other classics, such as the intentionally glitchy Pac-Man 256, and now the shmup genre as a whole with Shooty Skies, which is out and free-to-play on PC today.
If you’re unfamiliar with Shooty Skies, it’s a lightweight bullet hell shooter (one hit and you’re out) designed for super-casual play. Originally pretty small, it’s been bloated by dozens of updates in its mobile iteration, so you’ll get to see plenty of enemies, bosses and backgrounds if you can hang on long enough. You fire your main guns with one button and you ease up on that button to charge up a salvo of homing missiles or attract powerups. You shoot through endless increasingly difficult waves, you die, you compete for a high score. It’s not half bad as far as free shooters go.
There’s a little more to it than that. Being a free to play game there’s the constant promise of earning in-game cash as reward for progression, which you can spend on boosts to give you a foot-up in your next playthrough. If you’re worried about it being too hardcore on account of its genre, put those fears to rest. There are four difficulty settings, and while the rewards payouts do increase on higher levels, it’s not too massive a difference.
The PC version of Shooty Skies has three key differences from the mobile original. First and foremost, it’s widescreen, which completely changes the flow of the game and the importance of using your homing missile attack to pick off harassing enemies that are on the far other side of the screen.
Secondly, while the game still tries to sell you cosmetic gubbins at every possible opportunity, they have at least removed the ridiculous ‘Get rewards for watching ads’ nonsense. Third, the PC version offers multiple control setups (including full analogue gamepad play) and a decent range of visual options. It looks quite nice with anti-aliasing cranked up to full.
Shooty Skies is out on Steam now. The latest update includes a cross-promo deal with the band 7Bit Hero, giving away the band leads as free pilots. If you want to play as them, check the end of the pilot list.