The last year and a half has been quite the turning point for Nintendo. The Wii U’s lack of third party support and fiddly setup would quickly fade into the background to make way for the much more convenient and far more accessible Nintendo Switch. Being able to take this portable home console anywhere, anytime has opened up the potential for multiple developers – both mainstream and independent – to reach an audience who may not have the time to merely lounge in front of a fixed screen. In any case, while we are beginning to see re-releases of our most cherished franchises or games that we may have missed out on the first time around, it’s the new and sometimes smaller projects that are seemingly finding far more success thanks to the console’s flexible design.
While this does sound feasible on a consumer front, the potential of opening the floodgates to shovelware soon becomes imminent. Unfortunately SkyScrappers – a sort of Doodle Jump brawler – falls within this bracket of being a half-baked experience that’s simply looking to attract a wider audience on the Nintendo eShop. This may come across as a harsh introduction to the game considering that I haven’t even introduced the gameplay mechanics or its potential vision to entertain. However, it’s hard not to go in straight for the kill when the game relies so dependently on one single promising idea.
SkyScrappers initially sets itself up like a half-finished arcade fighter that’s making the preview rounds of a beta build. You have a selection screen of only four combatants, which is convenient as the game supports up to four players at once. When you finally decide on your fighter of choice (they all pretty much play the same) you select one of four levels in an effort to prove who can reach the top of a skyscraper that’s in the process of being demolished first. Each player has the ability to double jump, attack and let loose a special move once a super meter has been filled. The player who reaches the top wins, although, you can still stand victorious if you manage to completely deplete your opponent’s energy bar.
The stages themselves are geographically themed to match the background of each character. Every stage has slow falling rubble that can be hopped across to gain extra height. Running up angled girders can catapult the player higher in what is probably the game’s most thought out feature. Planning your route vertically and manipulating the angles of scrap tends to feel quite good when executing an uninterrupted run for the top. Smacking smaller debris into opponents to keep them at bay is also a nice touch to make for destructive but classy moments. In fact, the core idea and gameplay principles within the simple control layout happens to employ an entertaining structure to some degree. Where the problems soon begin to fester is down to the lack of imagination and ideas to build upon SkyScrapper’s weak foundations.
The anime-inspired art design lacks character, animation and cosmetic diversity. The developer needed more budget (or time) to spend on broadening this out. The artwork isn’t bad, it’s just more the case that there’s just not enough polish or variety to make it stand out more than a game that you’d expect to play on a web browser. At least there is an arcade mode to run through, with seven stages that can be easily cleared without ever witnessing the continue screen. With no way to increase the AI difficulty and the lack of online play, it quickly paints a picture about how long SkyScrappers can entertain you for.
Clearly, the sole purpose behind SkyScrappers is for multiplayer competition. Yet while there is some fun to be had as a result of a competent control system, there’s simply nothing that has been added here to provide any longevity beyond playing a few quick rounds before moving on to something better. It’s hard to tell whether the developer ran out of ideas or couldn’t be bothered to spend more time coming up with other ways to flesh out the gameplay. There’s no extra modes nor features outside a standard multiplayer and short-lived arcade mode. In saying that, each of the four characters does have a traditional ending – so that should give you an extra half an hour of entertainment, should you care to see them all through.
There’s not really much more to be said about SkyScrappers other than that having a vertical Tate Mode is always a nice feature if you happen to own a stand to support it. I suppose the benefit of such an addition along with multiple Joy-Con controllers at the ready does make this particular game somewhat suited for Nintendo Switch. It’s just a shame that there isn’t enough here to keep you coming back for more.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Ant Workshop