Mar 18, 2013
Who doesn’t like a little space shoot-’em-up to brighten up their day? Plasma Sky is a basic space shmup that thankfully nails the essentials and is a joy to control.
Players fly around in two-dimensional space, taking on enemies and giant asteroids that fly about in different formations, Galaga-style. The player auto-fires, so they just need to worry about keeping themselves alive, and picking up the powerups for more firepower and additional shields. The game is fast-paced with a variety of enemies on screen, but never gets so jam-packed that it could be considered a “bullet hell” game. It doesn’t have a lot in the way of original hooks to make it stand out, but it nails the basics of the genre to be just satisfying enough.
The thing that really shines through in Plasma Sky is the ease of its controls. The touch-based controls are 1:1, meaning that the ship moves exactly as far as the player’s finger moves. However, they also have an offset, so that the player can reposition their thumb and start moving again, or move their thumb around in a way that doesn’t obscure the screen. As well, there seems to be just enough inertia with the movement that makes the movement feel natural, and not just like dragging an object around a screen, it feels like moving a spaceship around in a game. That natural feeling makes for a tremendous difference in how the game feels. Try the tilt controls too; the developer claims that they are his preferred method.
The game has two modes: Conquest, which boasts 80 levels that can be continued from where the player dies, along with a health bar for maximum player-friendliness. Then there’s Hardcore mode, where there’s no health bar and no continues, it’s all about going far and getting that high score. The lack of online leaderboards on Android is definitely lacking, though – this is seriously where Google needs their Game Center!
While Plasma Sky won’t win any awards for uniqueness, as it does feel awfully familiar while playing it, it’s definitely a game that’s a solid pick-up-and-play experience, and developers of other space shmups need to take heed of its excellent controls.