Originally released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2014, Sonic Powered’s Skypeace had one standout attribute: the game was priced at 99 cents. Four years later, the title has made its way onto Nintendo’s newest system, preserving the scoring-run-based gameplay, while offering slightly up-ressed visuals. But most importantly, the game retains the same parsimonious price point making it one of the most inexpensive finds on the eShop. But when such an economical asking price emerges, it’s only natural to wonder if there’s any fun to found with a game that’s cheaper than a candy bar.
Head into the game’s tutorial and you’ll discover Skypeace’s decidedly simple control scheme. Using either the left Joy-Con stick or the controller’s directional button, you’ll move a protagonist around a three-by-three box. Each of the eight outside squares corresponds with a cardinal direction, while not pushing anything returns the character to the center box. During the tutorial the game shows the grid of boxes you can travel across. But once you step into the main game, the training wheels come off, and the squares become hidden. Don’t worry through, you’ll quickly forget that you ever needed them.
Each of the game’s ten levels task you with two main duties: collect as many items as possible and avoid enemies as the screen scrolls from right to left. Coins dominate the former, typically compelling gamers to move to the top, middle, and bottom rows as money flies by. Occasionally, jewels, and even rare articles like a UFO will show up, and you’re given a hefty end-of-level bonus if you can capture these as they race by. As you gather these goodies, a combo meter escalates, propelling players toward an end of level evaluation. With a bit of memorization, it’s not too hard to earn an “A” grade for each stage. However, attaining a superior “S” ranking will take a lot of practice, since you’ll need a near-perfect run.
Opposition comes in the form of floating creature that usually remove one of your life hearts and reset your combo meter when you collide with them. Over the course of Skypeace, they grow increasingly aggressive, adopting wave-like movements or firing lasers at players. Fortunately, you’re not completely prone, and picking up a dango-looking power-up temporarily turns you into a tornado, picking up coin and eliminating creatures with maniac intensity.
The game’s ten stages are succinct, but they are long enough to drain your health if you’re not careful. And while Skypeace won’t sustain your attention for too long, there’s just enough enjoyment to keep players coming back to stages, gradually improving their scores and acquiring higher ranks. For those who obsess about meeting each challenge, there are even a set of fifty in-game achievements, than can expand playtime even further.
Graphically, Skypeace’s parallax-endowed playfields exhibit a decent amount of detail. While there’s not a multitude of different backdrops, the game’s setting does show different times of day, which helps offset any visual fatigue. While the game delivers the kind of upbeat you’d expect, the melodies are drowned out by the sound effect for item collection, which plays constantly throughout each stage. Pleasingly, the title extends the ability to play as a male or female character, which perform identically.
Much like a mobile phone app, there’s not a lot of depth in Skypeace. But when considering the bargain-basement asking price, the game delivers more than enough enjoyment to justify its cost. Although players with keen reflexes will be able to race through the title’s ten stages in a little more than an hour, many will find that the game works as a great palette cleanser, to be played between sessions of bulkier games.
Developer: Sonic Powered Co., Ltd.
Publisher: Sonic Powered Co., Ltd.
Release date: April 26th, 2018
Price: $0.99 via digital, Nintendo eShop