This week we turn our attention to one of the more surprising titles to come out of SNKP in recent years.
KOF: Sky Stage
Genre: Vertical Scrolling Shooter Players: 2 Size: 264 MB Released on: Taito Type X, Xbox Live Arcade, PSP (included in NeoGeo Heroes Ultimate Shooting)
KOF Sky Stage is an arcade vertical danmaku shooting game with King of Fighters characters. In order to rescue fighters trapped in Orochi's dimensional prison, these heroes have been given the ability to fly through the skies by Chizuru Kagura and use their abilities to shoot down various demons and wraiths.
People will end up saying Sky Stage is a wacky idea for a shump, but to me, its meh, even though there's a choice of 6 favorites, Bosses from the Orochi saga in which you can face and determine, and last but not least, Rugal, can't have a KOF game without him. And the difficulty of this game is in terms of Raiden, so to speak.
SHIKIGAMI NO SKYSTAGE...
Translated reads: Shikigami (No Shiro) please... No (KOF) Skystage thanks.
HUGE Shmup fan... HUGE KOF/SNK fan... but this is LOLworthy, shameful cash in nonsensical garbage at it's finest. Great for those either not concerned with the actual KOF series or characters themselves, not concerned with the quality control of their shmups, or those claiming to support SNKP - no matter what.
I got to reside in the WTH category... The gameplay certainly isn't bad (from what I've seen), but the concept seems way out of left field. I guess characters flying and shooting are becoming more common, but I just wish they would've given the characters vehicles or something. It just seems so bleh. And, no I haven't actually played this game. At first, when it first broke, I thought it was a spoof or something. Maybe if the game was more accessible, I would give it a go.
I played Sky Stage on Neo Geo Heroes Ultimate Shooting on PSP, it's actually selectable as an separate game. It sure is a welcome change in SNKP's variety of genres, but overall it's just a nice little game for once in a while. While Neo Geo Heroes US is better overall, Sky Stage still is a pretty fun game but it can't be taken serious at all. Worth mentioning is also the soundtrack which contains pretty good remixes of well-known classic KoF tracks.
I think I'll join the HSC, it would be fun to get better at KoFSS.
I played Sky Stage on Neo Geo Heroes Ultimate Shooting on PSP, it's actually selectable as an separate game.
Really? I must check! I never played it an even didn't know about it... when you talked about this game i thought it was some kind of a new KOF for xbox.
The main game of Neo Geo Heroes is actually like an updated version of Sky Stage with a few more characters, story lines and game modes. Overall it's a more complete game than Sky Stage is. It's a nice piece of PSP software for once in a while, but nothing revolutionary. Need to play this in 2P Co-Op mode though, might be even more fun.
Hmmmm, I never bothered picking this up... still debating if I should bother when I get paid next week. Being GotW, it's tempted me a little to pick it up...
I did try the demo briefly and it's pretty much what I expected, don't think it's horrible it's just a bit of a "WTF" game, there's no real reason for it to exist other than as a cash in on the KOF name imho. If it means SNK put money into developing other more worthy titles though then I don't mind them cashing in a bit.
Let me start off this post by saying that I am well aware that I am not the most well versed guy when it comes to scrolling shooters. I've played a ton of them over the past year or so, so I'm a lot more knowledgeable now than I was when Sky Stage was released, but I definitely don't compare the the hardcore crowd that thinks a $200 purchase of Radiant Silvergun is totally worth not eating for a month. That said, I do know when I am having fun. And when I play KOF Sky Stage, I am having fun.
The premise is pretty damned silly, but honestly it's no sillier than a myriad of kart racers or other cross over titles. And if SNK wanted to make a shmup, why not include their most recognizable characters instead of designing yet another shooter with space ships in it? I think having recognizable characters who I already know and love instantly made the game more appealing. And perhaps controlling people instead of a plane or something is the reason why two of my favorite shooters are ESP Ra.De. and Death Smiles.
Yes, I brought up Cave games, which brings me to Sky Stage's gameplay. While I'm not crazy enough to say it tops some of Cave's best offerings that's like saying a painting doesn't compare to Da Vinci's work. It's still good, and amazingly fun to play. The pacing of the stages is pretty incredible and things always get really amped up towards the end. Then there's a little calm before the storm followed by one of the game's difficult boss fights. The way special moves work is a simple way to give the player more options than just shoot and bomb, and you'll need to master all of those options if you want to even survive, let alone get a good score. And the scoring system has two layers of risk/reward. The closer you are to an enemy when you kill it the better medal it will drop, which you have to manually pick up rather than them being drawn to you automatically like most of Cave's shooters. So many times I've gotten a bunch of gold medals to pop out but had to dodge too much enemy fire to pick them all up. If I had settled for silver medals (or utilized my special moves better) I could have gotten a much better score. The second layer to the risk/reward system is taunting. At any time you can make your character taunt which royally pisses off your enemies and instantly doubles the difficulty. Survive and you'll be swimming in delicious points. Die and you'll look like a fool for taunting. All six characters play very differently so become good with one character and you've still got a lot of gameplay ahead of you if you want to learn the others.
Each of the characters are rendered in 3D which allows them to animate very smoothly. The enemies are a mixed bag of typical shooter fare with a few pretty memorable ones. The stages are pretty cool, especially the backgrounds when fighting the bosses. The soundtrack has some cool remixes of classic KOF music, but usually there's too much going on for you to even notice it. The voice overs are weird since they're all in English and I don't even think they got the same voice actors as KOF XII. A Japanese option would have been nice.
There's also a VS mode which I've never been able to try out but looks pretty interesting. There's hidden KOF invitations in each stage that allow you to unlock a second loop of the game ending with an extra boss fight against Omega Rugal (who else?). And, I know I've already mentioned it but, six characters who all play completely differently! Holy crap, why would anyway not buy this game?
I'll tell you why. Because Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting exists. KOF Sky Stage is $10 on XBLA and NGHUS is $20 on PSP. In NGHUS you get much more than twice the content so if you have the option I'd definitely go with NGHUS. If you need to play it on your big screen you can always buy the cheap adapter to hook up your PSP to your TV. Trust me, it works wonders. If, however, you don't have a PSP you can do a hell of a lot worse than Sky Stage for your $10. With Radiant Silvergun at $15 and Ikaruga and Guwange at $10, Sky Stage certainly shouldn't be your first choice when it comes to XBLA shooters, but it definitely deserves to be on your radar.
Edited by reelmojo on 24. September 2011 05:16
Let me start off this post by saying that I am well aware that I am not the most well versed guy when it comes to scrolling shooters. .............................................................
....., but it definitely deserves to be on your radar.
Well spoken, Mojo. I can't do anything but agree about Sky Stage although NGHUS is in fact better, just as you said. I need to try out one of these TV adapters you mentioned, I wonder how it might look like. With it I could play as well all NG, NGCD, SNES, Genesis, PCEngine, GB or GBA emulators on one big screen! Too bad my PSP's headphone jack has an annoying defective contact, so I wouldn't be able to enjoy first class sound on my TV.
Murikov, actually the adapter I mentioned works because it's really just AV cables. A quick search for "PSP AV cables" online will bring up a few options for you. I bought this version for about $5 on Ebay and I almost never play my PSP as a handheld now.
Stray, I didn't realize you can do that. But the voices aren't annoying enough for me to change the language options of my entire system and then not be able to read anything in the game. Then again, I leave the voices in KOFXII in English too so clearly it doesn't bother me as much as it does others.
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