RED BARTON AND THE SKY PIRATES
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on March 21, 2017
I sure hope you guys don't have a fear of heights, because it's time to take to the skies and fight for our freedom! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the kingdom of Diamondia is in trouble; contrary to his predecessors, the new king of Diamondia has no love for peace and quiet. Instead, he has taken the kingdom's riches and invested them in a huge army with only one purpose: to gain total and utter control over the kingdom and everything and everyone in it! There's only one man who can stop this madness and return the kingdom to its peaceful state: Red Barton!
A true ace when it comes to flying and a former member of the king's army, Red Barton is forced to fight on the fringes of the now war-torn kingdom and make his way through tons and tons of enemies. His mission sounds simple: dethrone the king and restore peace to Diamondia. Well, let me tell you that this is nowhere as simple as it sounds. Red will have to use every ounce of his flying experience to make it through the nicely crafted levels and boss-fights to reach his final goal.
Red Barton and the Sky Pirates is a arcade style flying game designed by Kosta Zdravković Game Concept & Design and produced by indie developer Schism Worldwide. The game has, according to its developers, drawn its inspiration from classic games like Starfox 64 and Afterburner. And, for the record, I agree with them! Although the speed of the game is somewhat less frantic than the latter of these two games and the levels are more linear than the former, Red Barton combines the things that made these games as good as they were and mixes these into a very cool game.
When you start playing, you get an airplane and some basic weapons which you can use to blast your numerous enemies into tiny smithereens. As you progress through the game, you collect golden coins, that enable you to upgrade both your plane and your weapons in-between missions, using your hangar. Only if you have collected enough coins will you be able to get your hands on the good stuff. And because bigger guns and a larger plane means bigger price tags, so be sure to collect as many coins as you can!
During your missions, you can collect more than coins; fuel, rockets and armor are all instrumental to your survival, so be sure to keep an eye out for these pickups as well. Of course, these items are not just lying around the levels, you will have to earn them by destroying enemy troops. When you blow up an enemy unit, it releases one of these pickups for you to collect. One pickup in particular is my absolute favorite: the Sky Pirate pickup. Whenever you collect the coin with a skull symbol, a huge flying pirate ship will overtake you and start shooting every enemy in sight, making your life quite a bit easier. And even though you don't actually destroy these enemies yourself, the pickups they leave behind are yours to collect... nice, isn't it?!
Another nice feature in the game is the night mode. It lets you replay the levels with adapted lighting and a slightly different difficulty level and adds even more replay value to the game. I absolutely like the story; Red Barton fights against friends-turned-foe generals of the kings army, which gives you a bit more perspective on how bad things have gotten in Diamondia. The boss characters are intricately crafted and each have their own weak points for you to exploit. During the first few levels, Red gets help from the King's daughter, who is secretly feeding him information on the various weak points per boss. After a few missions, however, the King catches on to this betrayal and imprisons his own daughter, leaving Red to find out what point to attack for himself.
Red Barton and the Sky Pirates has a beautiful visual style that really brings the world to life. The in-between mission cutscenes are comprised of stills with added text that tell the story of Red's battles and his enemies. The control scheme is easy to master, which means that you can just pick up the game and play a few rounds without being forced to go through a lengthy tutorial. The only thing I personally missed when playing Red Barton is the ability to move your reticule independently from your plane. This meant that I came in contact with the ground quite a few times when I tried to hit certain enemies that were placed at ground level. Apart from that, Red Barton and the Sky Pirates handles well and is really fun to play! As abonus, Red Barton even features a local coop mode, so you and a friend can take to the skies together and do twice the damage!
RED BARTON AND THE SKY PIRATES
March 14, 2017