Overall rating: 1.5/5
The Nintendo Entertainment System is often rather fondly remembered by its faithful players, whether on the present-day retro scene or those who enjoyed the system when it was still releasing new titles. It was the home console that single-handedly saved the video game industry, made Nintendo a household name, and is regarded as a watershed event even in the overarching industry of entertainment altogether.
However, lest it be put upon a pedestal, the gaming system did have its flaws. One of these glaring weaknesses was the fact that the 8-bit unit was still just a step or two away from the arcades; thus, many developers for the cartridge titles were still making games that were more ideally built for an arcade unit than machine you can play in your house whenever you want to. Many of these games had the same issues: A gameplay that repeatedly looped forever, no real storyline or ending, overly simplified effects, a general lack of fulfillment or ambition, and typically a lack of true multiplayer function. One of these ill-fated selections was Sky Shark, a vertically scrolling flying shooter with a retro wartime flavor.
Controlling a fighter plane, you begin by taking off from the airfield, only to immediately encounter enemies within seconds. Firing your machine gun as quickly as you can mash your button, you also have a limited supply of bombs that obliterate all enemy units on the screen. Proceeding at a consistent pace through enemies with scripted locations, you simply see how far you can get, and how high of a score you can acquire.
Actually, oddly enough for a simple game, the looks are the high point of this game. The models of World War-era bombers and fighters are recognizable at certain portions; and when you fly over the aircraft carriers, they truly do convey an overpowering sense of size. The tanks are unmistakably tanks, yet come in different varieties. Enemy fighters whizz around the screen in mesmerizing, real-life Galaga style. Perhaps most impressively is the amount of sprites the game animates without any choppy, skipping issues like other titles experienced on the NES.
The effects themselves were crude but effective, with brute-force explosions, although the pyew pyew sound of the main gun is pathetic, even childish. The soundtrack is interesting: On one hand, it is definitely memorable, and drives the frantic pace of the game. On the other hand, it is also extraordinarily repetitive, overly reliant on a high pitch, and potentially devastatingly annoying.
Creativity and Innovation
The style has been doing before, certainly; so, the only fresh thing Sky Shark truly offered was the World War II theme, which was a nice touch.
Overall though, the game suffers from a profound lack of replay value, except for the truly hardcore high-score nuts still out there, holdovers from the Arcade Age. Sky Shark is fun for a few minutes and maybe a couple plays, but does not deserve higher than one-and-a-half stars out of five.
But for the high-score nuts and longevity players, check out NintendoLegend.com for other classic arcade ports to NES games.