“Shmup Breaker” Sky Racket Makes Weaving Into Enemy Fire Essential To Win


Out of all the shoot ’em ups that have released recently, Sky Racket is likely one of the most brutal ones that I have played. Described by developer Double Dash Studios as a “shmup breaker”, it’s a combination of a shmup and a block breaker game, which adds a further layer of difficulty onto an already-unforgiving genre.

Some of the more interesting games in the shoot ’em up genre are defined by how the player interacts with enemy bullets – most famously, Ikaruga‘s Polarity mechanic that can have players straight-up ignore enemy bullets that are the same color. A personal favorite of mine, Psyvariar, has players brush across bullets to try and gain points, and level up for a short period of invincibility. Here in Sky Racket, enemy bullets are everything, not only obstacles, but every bullet that you fire.

Enemy bullets are split into pink laser-type ones that can’t be reflected with the eponymous Sky Racket, and orange bullets that can be bounced back. Like block breaker games, what angle you hit the ball at determines where your shot goes, and it can bounce off walls. With both bullets interspersed between each other, each level becomes a frantic game of catch-up and dodging into the the fray in order to even get a chance to counterattack.

I perceive myself as a decent player of shoot ’em ups, but this challenged me in ways I hadn’t really experienced before. In bullet hell type shooters, the general strategy is to focus on the enemy bullets heading towards you and not your unit, and when you get used to it, it feels like a trance that you’re sucked into. Not here. In Sky Racket, everything demands your attention, and your eyes are all across the screen the entire time, especially as where your player unit is determines if you can even reflect the shot to do damage at all. It can feel as if there’s no breathing room during the levels, especially when they throw dizzy shots and movement-hindering tanukis at you.

Despite the masochistic difficulty, I did have a great deal of fun playing through Sky Racket. The presentation is top-notch, bearing fluid animations and a slick UI that draws you into the game world. I’d like to call attention to the bosses, which are very charming despite their brutal difficulty. The animated opening is also very pleasant to watch, and the music is catchy and memorable.

That said, this is no pick-up-and-play shmup. If you are to play Sky Racket, you’d better take a deep breath and steel your mind, because it will take every bit of your concentration to make it through.

Sky Racket is available for PC via Steam.

Alistair Wong
Very avid gamer with writing tendencies. Fan of Rockman and Pokémon and lots more!