This is going to sound like a terrible cliché, but Superplaygames’ Sky Defenders (Out Now, $0.99) is one of those iOS titles that’s delightfully easy to pick up and play, yet all but impossible to put down. The game’s nifty blend of intuitive controls, lightening fast action, and crisp, cartoony visuals grabs from the word go and, once hooked on the high score-centric skill-based gameplay, you’ll need superhuman willpower to tear yourself away.
The premise here is simple: earth is being invaded by an army of evil robots and it’s up to a duo of spandex-clad heroes to save the day. You select either a super dude (Skyboy) or dudette (Skygirl) then soar up into the stratosphere to duke it out with relentless swarms of baddies. Sky Defenders plays much like a classic top-down shoot ’em up — except instead of piloting a space craft or fighter jet, you’re in control of a superhero, and rather than having guns and lasers at your disposal, you’ve got an array of extraordinary powers.
With 60 seconds on the clock, the idea is to quickly zig-zag through the skies collecting power-ups and using your special abilities to eviscerate as many enemies as possible. Keep the combos and kill streaks flowing and you are rewarded with time-bonuses, allowing you to play for longer and rack up an impressive high score. Careful though, because if you fly too close to an enemy bot without a power-up activated, they’ll seize your hero in a vice-like grip, shaving precious seconds off your time! The action unfolds at a dizzying pace, so thankfully Sky Defenders boasts commendably responsive tilt controls, which make dodging bots and pulling off awesome aerial maneuvers intuitive and natural-feeling.
The game is also a visual treat — carving a path of destruction through squadrons of robotic invaders while explosions go off left, right and center and comic book-style onomatopoeic sound effects like “BOF” and “WHOOOM” are emblazoned across the screen looks fantastic and provides a real adrenaline rush.
Still, as fun and ‘just one more go’ compelling as Sky Defenders’ core gameplay is, I can’t help but wish Superplaygames had expanded on its potential more. Here’s hoping they see fit to to add more enemy types and environments come update time, because, as is, the game is just too slight and has a vaguely unfinished feel about it. Ideally I’d also love to see a fully-fledged, level-based campaign included to supplement the solitary survival-based mode that’s currently on offer. Oh, and while we’re at it: not everyone’s a fan of tilt controls, so perhaps adding a touch-based alternative at some point wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Sky Defenders does feature a couple of neat bonus features, though. The first of which are daily missions you can tackle in order to earn in-game credits and upgrade your superpowers more quickly. You can also sync the game with your Facebook account and invite friends to compete on its leaderboard, which is kind of neat, I guess, but Game Center integration would no doubt have been a better fit and more of a crowd-pleaser.
iFanzine Verdict: As far as the core gameplay goes, Sky Defenders is pure, unadulterated fun. Taken as a whole, though, this feels a little anemic content wise, and would benefit no end from more levels, game modes, and Game Center–powered leaderboards and achievements.