Super Sky Arena is the first title from Hammer Labs, a small team working out of Germany. It is a re-imagination of the original Starfox multiplayer with unique characters, levels, game modes and a stunning visual style. The game is at its best with four players either locally or online battling it out in sometimes frantic ship to ship combat. Currently offering eight different characters, four game modes and five maps meaning there is a good chunk of content.
To get the most out of Super Sky Arena, it recommends using a controller and after a few rounds to get used to the control scheme the fun can begin. The player uses the left analog stick to look around and aim, while the right stick is for boosting, slowing or spinning. It feels almost natural to be controlling you ship and the ability to tilt allows players to squeeze through tight gaps during intense dog fights. Fight or flight (excuse the pun) is important to manage, having a fuel gage to manage a large boost of speed to either escape or engage quickly.
I played Super Sky Arena mostly split screen with a few friends but I also invested sometime in the single player to see how the AI manoeuvre and react. The AI have nine different levels of difficultly and are surprisingly challenging to play against. Super Sky Arena is purely multiplayer focused, so there isn’t any single player content outside of battling bots. Battling against the bots is enjoyable but it simply isn’t the same as trash talking against a bunch of mates.
The game allows for higher skilled plays with aspects of power ups and out manoeuvring opponents, but there is always room for the odd cheap shot of a player swooping in the steal some low health kills. Each level is uniquely designed, with some having large hazards in the shape of a massive laser or giant worm to only name two. Keeping each player on their toes for what might be ahead.
The power ups do vary in their use with mines, EMPs, fuel and creating a barrier wall to destroy your enemies. There’s too many power ups to list! More importantly though there are some super powerful ones which can easily swing the result of the match with a death star style laser and a homing missile barrage. The feeling of catching multiple enemies in either of those is incredibly satisfying.
Super Sky Arena offers four different game modes, timed, lives, points and Team Hustle. The last being the most interesting, where teams must hold onto an orb that if it touches the ground they lose points slowly and the team that reaches zero first loses. It creates an interesting dynamic of forcing you to focus certain targets while keeping you aware of who you need to defend. More interesting game modes would be a good addition, to keep the variety in the game up. It does offer quite a wide range of game options, Super Smash style to allow players to customise how the matches play out.
It does have to be said however that all the art assets for the game are impressive, the game simply looks great and the character/ship designs are stunning. The brilliant voice acting work too really adds to making each character feel unique. Each ship does feel as if they have different stats, but the game doesn’t showcase them which makes it something you learn from multiple plays. Super Sky Arena is already a very well-polished game, you can see the effort the developers have poured into it. The UI both in menus and in game is clear and simple to read, while maintaining a consistent style.
Personally I can see some of the inspiration for the game stemming from Super Smash or Rocket League, down to the multiplayer nature of the game and vehicle control. Again, like Rocket League the play sessions are quite short. You drop in for a few games with friends, trying the other modes but there isn’t too much beyond that.
As a Starfox multiplayer spiritual successor, it hits the mark and was honestly a blast to play with friends. The issue that some might find is that it is a multiplayer game through and through, a great party game and outside of that setting the game could feel lacking. Super Sky Arena plans to stay in Steam Early Access for a little bit, releasing before the start of 2017.
The development team seem to be updating the game rather regularly, so I’m honestly curious to see what features they plan to add. I am hoping for a few additional team game modes, working as a dynamic duo against was honestly a good laugh. A ranked ladder system or some competitive matches might keep a single player coming back. So, in summery if you’re looking for some action packed dog fighting with up to three friends? Super Sky Arena should be an instant pick up.
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