For anyone who’s played Capcom’s much revered 1942 or 1943,
Taito’s Sky Shark will likely seem little more than a curious case of
déjà vu. Why Taito even had the hubris to release a top-down WWII shooter after
1942 had already defined the genre is beyond me.
I know what you’re thinking, “oh, well they must’ve really beefed up the
graphics, and added crazy levels, and all kinds of power-ups, and some
titillating 8-bit nose art between rounds.” And you’d be perfectly entitled to
think that, since your childhood was spent huffing paint fumes in the
dilapidated storage shed behind the middle school. You’d be wrong, but you’re
still entitled. This is less a unique culmination of programming and design,
than the local bar-band’s cover of your favorite Molly Hatchet song. If you’re
not a particularly big Molly Hatchet fan, then Sky Shark will certainly
fill the bill. It’s raison d'etre is, after all, the essential basis of all
human enjoyment, boiled down to its purest form—blowing things up.
the pilot of a WWII-era P-40 Mustang and your goal is to blast everything in
front of you: planes, tanks, subs, gun towers, uh…that’s about it, really.
You’ve got guns, which can be upgraded, and some bombs. Remember that little
sortie of red planes in 1942 that you had to destroy to get the
power-ups? Apparently they fell on hard times after that game’s release, because
they’re back, reprising their role in Sky Shark. They’ve done away with
the between-round score card which would tell you how many enemies you’d
destroyed, and how accurate your shooting was. They also jettisoned that rather
quaint evasive roll maneuver and given you the bombs instead, which I guess is
sort of an improvement… The box art is really nice, featuring a great
painting of a battle-crazed pilot amidst an insane hail of bullets and
ordinance. C’mon, I’m trying here, folks, work with me.
Sky Shark is a fun game and if you don’t already own 1942 or
1943 it’s definitely worth the couple bucks to own. If, like me, you do
already have those games, it’s merely superfluous, though not aggressively
offensive. I give it an 8/10.
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