Don’t you just love some good Nindies? The Nintendo Switch has absolutely been slaying it recently with its large library of Nindies—indie titles released on the Nintendo Store. The most recent crop of indies released on the console have some promising entries, including Baldo and The Last Campfire.
One game showcased at the latest Indie World presentation is Double Dash Studio’s Sky Racket. I recently sat down with a copy of Sky Racket and let me tell you, it was an absolute blast! From the colorful aesthetic, addicting music, and intuitive and frantic gameplay, there is something here that gamers of all stripes can love. Let’s dig a bit deeper into Sky Racket.
‘Sky Racket’: Overview
Sky Racket markets itself as a combination of two types of retro game styles: Shoot ‘Em Ups and Block Breakers. Players choose from the two characters Racket Boy or Racket Girl., both of whom are wearing outfits that look like a mash-up of Flash Gordon and Jetsons sci-fi aesthetics.
Each level of Sky Racket is essentially an auto scroller where the goal is to break the blocks that come your way. The trick is that your character can’t do any damage by themselves. Instead, you have to use your mighty sky racket to knock back enemy projectiles and break the blocks. So each stage is essentially an auto scroller level of high-octane tennis. You fly around the screen smashing fireballs into enemy blocks until you reach the end of the level. Rewards are doled out based on how many challenges you meet, like the number of blocks broken or if you complete the stage without getting hit.
Each world has 3-4 levels and ends with a boss stage. Bosses are like normal stages, you fly around and smack back projectiles they launch to damage them. The boss selection here is really colorful and cute and they include a giant banana and a giant luchador tanuki.
Fast and Frantic Gameplay
Sky Racket’s best feature is it’s fun and addictive gameplay. The stages (called sets) start off pretty simple with just a handful of enemies and block types but by the time you enter the third main stage the game introduces a bunch more elements to amp up the challenge. The entire point of the game is to strategically use angles and rebounding shots to target enemies and break blocks. All the while you have to avoid bullets and fireballs from the enemies you can’t rebound.
Sky Rackets says it’s in the vein of old school block breakers and shoot ’em up games and that description rings true. The stages feel like an interesting mix of Space Invaders and Pong; you have to use your racket to reflect projectiles and take out your enemy. The game takes on aspects of the bullet-hell genre in some boss fights as you have to dexterously navigate between the oncoming onslaught of projectiles while reflecting what you can.
If you die in a level you get tossed back to the beginning as there are no checkpoints. Fortunately, each level is pretty short so it’s not that big of a deal to start over from the beginning of the level. A checkpoint or two on some of the longer levels might have been nice.
Sky Racket is not particularly difficult by any metric, but some levels will definitely require a few tries. It’s one of those games that is designed with the expectation you’ll die a few times so you can figure out the stage layout and timing for the next try. Once you get in the flow of a level, everything syncs together quite nicely as you hectically bat away fireballs and dodge other projectiles. The overall progression is very natural as each world has unique mechanics and extra goals to clear.
‘Sky Racket”s Handdrawn and Pixel Graphics Are Vibrant
The indie market is a sucker for pixel art and Sky Racket has good art all around. Character models are cute and clearly defined so hitboxes are easy to predict. The game relies heavily on that nostalgia factor with its upbeat and melodious retro soundtrack that is a throwback to classic Mega Man titles. The hand-drawn opening scene is beautifully animated too and looks like an episode of Steven Universe. Racket Boy and Racket Girl look like a hero duo out of a Saturday morning cartoon I wish existed when I was a kid.
‘Sky Racket’: Final Thoughts
Sky Racket is a fun casual game that basically anyone can play. It is built for couch co-op so toss a controller to a friend and spend a few hours playing tennis in the clouds. Sky Racket is probably not the most groundbreaking indie game out there, but it’s well worth giving a try for 10-15 hours.
- Addictive and fun gameplay
- Gorgeous pixel art and hand-drawn graphics
- Good progression; brings up new mechanics at a steady rate
- Wacky, colorful characters and bosses (a giant banana anyone??)
- Satisfying gameplay, banking a perfect shot and blowing an enemy’s head of feels awesome
- Extra stage challenges give good replay value
- A bit on the short side
- Co-op is hard to play on the small handheld screen
- There is a tiny bit of input lag for some commands
- Some stage designs are a bit repetitive and samey