SkyScrappers is a mix of two different genres, a fighting game and a platformer, but it’s not what you see from platform-fighters. Your goal is to win, but winning is the complicated part. You can either take out your opponent(s), or scale to the top of the collapsing skyscraper you’re fighting on. When I originally played SkyScrappers I was awaiting the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Now that I’ve played a decent chunk of that, let’s see if, and how, SkyScrappers keeps my attention.
In SkyScrappers you control one of four challengers in a tournament to win a large cash prize, the roster is small but the characters all stand out. The characters you can choose to play as are: Phileas, Solene, Jessica, and Kichirou. A fighting game requires only two things to be good, fluid controls and a good roster. Sadly SkyScrappers’ roster is small and they all play exactly the same. It is similar to Street Fighter’s Ryu and Ken. Each character has their own sound effects and animation, yet they aren’t really all that different in play.
SkyScrappers controls are, well, a mess. When you attack there is a nearly two second delay between input and execution. Fighting games usually work best when there is an immediate and noticeable follow-through when you hit a button. Another issue is that the hit-boxes of attacks are way too big. You can hit someone more than 6 pixels above you, and quite a few behind. Jumping from platform to platform feels clunky and unfinished, and, to top that off, something about running just feels off. I can’t just run around and have fun and that’s an issue. There are also falling objects that can hurt you, and they don’t really stand out so you get hit by falling debris which hurts a lot. There were a lot of spots in game where I felt being hit was unavoidable or cheap and no one likes that feeling.
The A.I. was usually pretty stupid, so when I died it was to a mixture of unavoidable hits and large hit-boxes. The A.I. is easily left in the dust, the easiest tactic to dealing with them is simply by moving up enough in the skyscraper. When they disappear off-screen they get shot up which causes massive damage, it becomes an easy way to win and you never have to even attack them. SkyScrappers rewards the person highest up, making it almost impossible to dethrone them, which is a huge mistake in making multiplayer games. Think of Mario Kart’s Blue-Shell, people hate it in the moment, yet without it, the game would suffer.
I found SkyScrappers presentation bland. The animation while fluid, didn’t pop, it just blended together until it was boring to look at. I think SkyScrappers would’ve been better off using thick black outlines for the fighters and platforms. Heavy outlines would’ve made everything pop better than just color being everywhere. I honestly never noticed the music. I can’t even think of a single note, and if I did notice it, it wasn’t memorable enough to stick in my head. SkyScrappers sound design is fine enough. Sounds never got annoying, but they didn’t stick out like Mario collecting a coin or Mega Man shooting a buster shot.
SkyScrappers has little to no single-player content, there’s only an arcade mode which features 7 rounds and an ending cutscene. Between rounds in the arcade mode, there is dialogue between the challengers… it’s okay, I guess. Each character has a well defined style they stick to, my issue with that though is that they mostly feel like stereotypes. Such as Jessica being “The ninja girl who doesn’t listen to anyone” and Kichirou the “Failing ladies man”. Even with this mode, there are only the 4 fighters, so it takes about 2 hours to complete. SkyScrappers was made to be a multiplayer experience, if you don’t have friends I can’t at all recommend even thinking of trying it.
In the end, good developers can make bad games. I can see the love and ambition that was clearly here, but more than that love and ambition a mediocre execution killed this novel concept. I will be watching what Ground Shatter produces next, but can’t recommend SkyScrappers to anyone. I hope they can revisit another title like it soon.
A Switch review copy was provided by the publisher.
supiroguy didn’t award SkyScrappers The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.