Is it a good idea for the bad guys to put rocket arms on someone you capture? Of course it is a bad idea! Can this idea make for a good game, then? The short answer in this Mega Man-ish game is yes!
The story of Skybolt Zack is that the Earth has been taken over and destroyed. Zack has been captured and experimented on by Dr. Kaz, after which he is then thrown away. Of course, the next course of action is revenge for our hero! Using a controller, as recommended by the developer, you match the colors corresponding to the enemies and environment to rocket punch your way through the levels.
After competing a tutorial level, the action ramps up quickly. A few levels later, you are introduced to a couple more tutorials for more advanced techniques. While the controls are simple, the gameplay presents itself as a simple concept, but it escalates quickly due to the fast pace of the game.Since it was recommended by the developers to use a controller, I used an Xbox One controller. The left stick controls player movement, the bumpers are used to dash, and the A button is used for jumping. From here, this is where it gets interesting. The X, Y, and B buttons correspond to the color of the enemies and/or objects of the levels. If you match these, you will rocket punch into them and can even control the direction of travel. You can expand the area of effect by holding the correct button down to give it more range. Some of the enemies also change color after the first hit.
The buttons can be remapped to your liking. The default controls for a keyboard use A, S, W, and D for movement, Space Bar to jump, the J, I, and L keys are for the different colors. Left Shift and C are used to dash. The devs also made it so that the game can be played with pretty much any type of controller. They even leave a disclaimer on their website that says, ”While you can choose to play with a keyboard, we recommend the use of a gamepad or arcade stick and decline the responsibility of any injury coming from you trying to play with a dance mat or Dreamcast’s fishing rod ;)” I bet some people could really do well on a dancepad at this game. I can also picture some using the Xbox Adaptive controller to play this game. I did struggle somewhat due to not being used to referencing the buttons to colors, but after a couple of levels, it became second nature. If you fail to use the correct color and hit an enemy, you will take damage. There are health packs that you can beat up with several hits to regenerate life. The action reaches near-hedgehog speeds when you rack up combos or chains, as it is referred to in the game. This also builds up your score and provides more enjoyment to the game.
A feature of this game that I really enjoyed is that many of the levels have different paths. This gives the game a total of 48 levels. Depending on the path that you take, you will move on to different difficulties in the next one. This difficulty also leads to higher scores, which will also give you higher ranks on the levels. It is easy to mess up and end up not being able to get to a higher path. It will take some knowledge of the levels to eventually master all the paths. Not only does this provide some replayability to the game, but the default play is a score attack that has leaderboards, and there is also a time attack mode for speed-running the levels.
The graphics really stand out on this platformer to me. It has a unique style that feels like a cross between Fortnite and Borderlands with the cel-shaded graphics style. Most of the assets are hand-painted and digitized into the game. The levels and backgrounds have good variety to them. It also helps that it is not just linear paths.
One area that I feel this game really excels at is the audio. When you start the level, the music is lower and slower, but as you build up your chains, the music ramps up and gets a good theme playing. It reminds me of pepped-up Mega-Man music. A great touch to the audio is that when you mess up by pressing the wrong color input, you hear “Nope!”. First time I noticed this, I got a good laugh. It is little touches like this that I really appreciate that developers take the time to put in the game. The soundtrack is also available for download on Steam.
Developer: DEVS MUST DIE
Publisher: Green Man Gaming
Platforms: Switch, PC
Release Date: 7th November 2019
Do you agree with our review of Skybolt Zack? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.