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Sky Force Anniversary Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Sky Force Anniversary is the 194X reboot Capcom should have made. It's a retro-throwback that remembers exactly why these old school shoot-em-ups were so much fun, while still giving modern gamers something to get excited about. It's not especially original and you'll see the same bosses a few too many times, but Sky Force Anniversary seems to understand what made those classic shoot-em-ups so hard to put down. Rating: 78%
Sky Force Anniversary
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
A few years ago, Capcom released 1942: Joint Strike, an updated reboot of one of their most beloved arcade franchises. The shoot-em-up attempted to bring old school action into the 21st century with high definition visuals and bigger explosions. It was a solid shooter that looks good and played well, but it failed to recapture the magic of the series and has since been largely forgotten.

In a lot of ways, Sky Force Anniversary is the 194X reboot Capcom should have made. It's a retro-throwback that remembers exactly why these old school shoot-em-ups were so much fun, while still giving modern gamers something to get excited about. The developers have not only nailed the look, but added just enough hooks to keep me replaying levels over and over until I collected everything.


Sky Force Anniversary is an action-packed remake of a 2004 mobile phone game from Infinite Dreams. Normally this would be a red flag that we're getting a second-rate shooter, but that's not the case here. This isn't some bite-sized handheld game made for the casual market, but rather an addictive shoot-em-up that is as big (if not bigger) than the games I typically review. I found myself binging Sky Force Anniversary until the sun came back up, something I rarely do with this genre.

After one of our best pilots is shot down, we spring into action to rescue the survivors and take out the evil General Mantis once and for all. We do this by shooting our way through nine colorful stages, collecting all the stars and then using them to upgrade our ship. This is the kind of game where we start out with a weak pea-shooter and then work our way up to adding side cannons, homing missiles, lasers and more. After grinding for stars and upgrading your ship, you'll finally be ready to finish the fight.

Part of what kept me coming back is that each stage has a set of four objectives. The game wants you to kill 70% of the enemy ships, 100% of the fleet, rescue all of the stranded pilots and, if all that wasn't hard enough, do it without taking any damage. The good news is that you won't have to do all this at once, and a lot of the fun is replaying the stages to complete each objective. If you can complete these four tasks, another four will open up along with a harder version of the stage.

Sky Force Anniversary (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The trick is that there are a lot of objectives and even more upgrades to buy. You'll spend hours throwing money into new guns, armor and special attacks. And while that normally would feel like a drag, I had a great time retrying stages with my more powerful ship. It's easy and quick to earn a lot of stars, so the game is good about making you feel like you're constantly becoming more capable of taking on the General's fleet.

It helps that the jungle setting is easy on the eyes. Instead of flying all over the world, the stages in Sky Force are all connected and fit the theme. We don't jump from a sand level to the frozen tundra; we simply fly over the sea, through the woods and deep inside the General's base. I like how they made each level stand out, giving us more to do than simply shooting at airplanes and boats. For example, there's one stage where a missile will follow your every move, forcing us to stay in motion and keep as far away from the missile as possible. One hit will cripple your plane, taking your weapons offline and forcing us to do nothing but dodge enemy fire.

For as much fun as I had fighting through Sky Force Anniversary, there are moments when I'm reminded that this started out as a mobile game. I was a little disappointed that the developers decided to constantly reuse bosses instead of making a new one for every stage. It's also disappointing that the various missions don't change from one stage to the next. There's a repetition to the tasks that wears thin by the time you beat the final boss.

Sky Force Anniversary (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

I suspect the amount of grinding required will also split the audience, as you'll need to replay the same stages dozens of times to fully upgrade your plane. This is good for the longevity of the game, but I have a hunch some will just want to play straight through from beginning to end without all the grinding. While I found this aspect of the game addicting, I do wish it was a little faster to upgrade the core weapons.

Even with all of the grinding, I never grew sick of shooting down the General's best men. It's not especially original and you'll see the same bosses a few too many times, but Sky Force Anniversary seems to understand what made those classic shoot-em-ups so hard to put down. This is easily one of the best shooters I've played this year.
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