When you think of the King of Fighters games you would probably imagine two overly powerful people competing against each other in an arena with punches, kicks and specials but SNK’s King of Fighters Sky Stage sees six characters from their popular fighting game fly through the skies in this vertical shooting game, battling robots and saving the world, of course.
One thing that remains the same as any of the other King of Fighters titles, is the attempt at trying to implement a story into a game that simply doesn’t need one. You start things off by choosing one of the six playable characters which each have their own different attacks, so depending on your play style, whether it be shooting straight forward or from the side, there will be a character just right for you. Other than your standard shooting you also have a special attack which can charged three times and a bomb that takes out most of the enemies on screen. You use the left analog stick to move your character and avoid incoming fire and attack with the three buttons corresponding to each of your abilities…and that’s about it.
The game honestly feels like there’s nothing there and although the characters and effects look quite nice, I was constantly wondering to myself why on earth these characters were magically flying through the sky firing hundreds of fire balls or shooting crazy lasers. Your character reacts fast, so dodging incoming fire isn’t too hard on the lower difficulties but as you start cranking up the difficulty, you will probably begin feeling overwhelmed by the amount of crap you need to dodge. You are given four credits in the beginning and once you’re hit three times, one credit is lost. As you progress through the five levels you increase the total number of starting credits. Once you complete the game you are rewarded with infinite starting credits. Initially there are only five levels starting 1-1 through to 1-5 but if you manage to collect some floating letters throughout these stages you can unlock the next set of levels from 2-1 to 2-5.
The achievements are easily gained and there are leaderboards for any of you score nuts, though this is only going to useful with the single player scores; the Xbox LIVE co-op is, as usual with most arcade games, is dead. I created a room and waited for about an hour and didn’t find a single opponent, which was very disappointing as I thought this might have been where the fun was hiding.
Having been developed for the real arcade originally, the screen size is awful and on my widescreen television, the actual game screen takes up just 1/3 of the space with a little wallpaper in the background that you can change from the menu screen. This is a vertical shooting game though, so if you were given more space horizontally it would sort of defeat the point. Unless you are a serious SNK fan, I would give this one a miss.