Written: 7.13.07 Acquired: 1.18.06 Status: Cart only Price: $6
Pub: Sony Imagesoft
Here's one of those lesser known SNES games which have gone on to develop something of a small cult following. I missed out on it back in the day and it was right at the top of my want list. It didn't take me long... just one day after I re-bought a Super Nintendo I secured a copy of Sky Blazer. What's all this fuss about? With all of the fan hype surrounding it, "anxious to play" would have been an understatement! "I'M JUST A LOVE MACHINE..."
In Japan it's known as Karuraou. To no one's* surprise, the US box- art was Americanized to be "more modern and hip"
*Unless you're one of those who wonders what SNES** stands for, and I hope not
**Surely Not Everyone's Stupid!***
***[Quit this asterisk nonsense! -Ed.]
TOKEN ACTION GAME PLOT
A lovely moderate rain streaks across the screen as the game opens proper. You have 8 magic skills, but only one is initially known. The other 7 are to be acquired. Some eat more magic bars than others. You can also upgrade your health
Sky's regular offense consists of punches and this sweeping kick
The sneaky athletic bastard, Sky possesses incredible grip
He can also scale walls. Hmm, shouldn't rain put out the fire? Must be them magic flames
Some action heroes, who will go nameless, lack the ability to duck *cough Mega Man cough* but NOT Sky! In fact, he can duck AND crawl at the same time. Highly useful!
After this very brief intro romp, you meet up with the Lord of War Ashura (look, I can't make this stuff up). Don't sweat the ill fate about to befall you -- it's beyond your control
There goes the young sorceress Arianna. I like that name. Exotic
... is the name of this geezer. Classic. Giving tips along the way and also supplying you with passwords, he's more than an afterthought, despite the lame generic name
"I heard ya the first time. Chillax, foo!"
The game is made up of three islands, with the bulk of the action taking place in the 2nd. You can backtrack to a previously beaten level, but there's really no need or incentive to
The game is largely linear
And of course, the by-now obligatory zoom-in Mode 7 shot. Hey, all the cool kids were doing it
This is an ace little jaunt but I'm still racking my brains out.... WHO IN THE BLOODY HELL IS FALTINE!?! No (mid)boss in this stage and no one by the name of Faltine ever appears. So, pray tell, WHOOO!? *grumble, etc.*
This sinking action is inexplicably top stuff. One second you're streaking on top....
... And the next you find yourself sinking through the leaves
It's a temple.... burning like an inferno. [Brilliant -Ed.] Things get a bit hot under the collar here, pardon the pun. Lots of clinging and jumping to and fro quickly. This level is broken up in several short stretches
Sky Blazer is filled with all sorts of mythical depictions in the background
If you smeeeelll-a-la-la-LA-LA! WHAT THE RO -- [SNIP -Ed.]
TOWER OF THE TAROLISK
Work your way up this rotating tower. The first one is easy, but later becomes much more difficult, with re-appearing platforms. This was said to be highly impressive back then!
For you Commodore players Nebulus probably comes to mind I bet
Obviously, he flunked Kindergarten!
That just ain't right
This next bit here is pretty damn cool stuff. You don't have to use the Comet Flash but I find it most effective. The wyvern is annoying and the platforms dissolve as soon as contact is made
The Comet Flash not only zips you across a great distance but takes out baddies too!
Ah-ha, it was only a matter of time before we cracked upon the slippery slidey ice world! Maybe unoriginal, but you certainly can't fault Sky Blazer for having variety
Touch these bad boys and...
... They take off! What creative genius eh!
Cool thing is, you can also ride the ice wedge, taking out all those who stand foolishly in your path
"Grasshopper, let thy enemy come to thee" I was once told
Well I'll BE...
Inflation is nuts init -- this was a $2 fee last week
"See? Should have let me pass by peacefully"
Later on we arrive at something vaguely familiar... hmmmm
I did say Sky Blazer was unoriginal, yes?
I was also once told, "Patience is a virtue, young grasshopper"
The slipperyness of it all adds to the tension
THE FALLS OF TORMENT
No doubt Sky Blazer is fun to look at, with some unique structures that were semi-atypical of SNES games at that time
Another short level, this one features rotating logs. Slip and be forced to deal with a shoal of angry fish
LAIR OF KAHRYON
This is the most confusing stage in what is largely an easy game. Many switches must be flipped in order to grant access to the next region. All stages in Sky Blazer are small, but this one you might actually be at it for a while
And these currents force you in the flow of their direction... so how would one flip the switch there? Good question. Oh, you wanted an answer too? Um, all I can say is "Focus on Hocus Pocus"
Look, I'll even show you. I'm too nice to you lot, I really am
Lazy-ass design on the sea serpent there, but I love this shot
THE SAND RIVERS OF SHIROL
Wait-a-sec, it might be purty but ain't this really Falls of Torment? Hmmm...
Typical platforming skills are demanded of you. Predictably, spikes periodically pop out the sides of that block there
This guy again?!
He just won't give up, will he?
Sometimes, the collision detection is a bit off...
"Trust me on this one...."
"Ya won't feel a damn thing..."
"See? Wasn't too bad was it?"
GATEWAY OF ETERNAL STORMS
Ominous thunder clouds rage in the background of this cool looking stage. The destructible blocks littered within this world add a convivial touch to the proceedings
Remember those early-mid 90's Batman toy commercials? And how the Batmobile would always go crashing through see-thru blocks? This reminds me of that
"GO SKY BLAZER GO, GO SKY BLAZER GOOOOOO!" [Hey! NOT cool -Speed Racer]
Those indestructible rolling bastards are mighty difficult to avoid
Think he's ugly? Not til you see his 2nd form
This is it, the final stop. You gotta be fast to last in this cruel force scroller, with ill-positioned baddies and falling platforms up the proverbial wazoo
Green refills your health, red magic. You know what this means, right? Yup. Gauntlet
One of 8 special magic powers, I had to show this one. Ace animation!
It'd seem a bit weird, wouldn't you agree, if there were little actual sky blazin' in Sky Blazer? Well the bad news is, other than the bonus Mode-7 levels, there's only two levels where Sky gets to show off his flying abilities
The good news? Given how awkward the wing-flapping controls are, it's just as well!
Here's the bonus level I speak of. Collect gems to earn a 1-UP
It sure as hell does!
Kids these days huh? They never do listen, tsk tsk
WHO'S THE BOSS?
Sure as hell not Tony Danza. Now Ms. Milano on the other hand...
Here's some of the big bad wolves in Sky Blazer
You can forget about those three wishes
Pay close attention to this bugger...
Errr, pardon the lame pun... but did ya see that!?
Pretty clever usage of Mode-7, and certainly one of those boss encounters you never forget...
[*Slaps forehead* -Ed.]
MONSTER FACE THING IN A ICY WALL!
This boss is easily my favorite. Not only does it look bad-ass, it's an ingenious battle beginning to bloody end
Attack its right eye...
Rest In Peace, Left Eye
So how does this heathen defend itself / fight back? I'm glad you asked....
Shameless Mode-7 thrills and delights. As the monster weakens, the speed picks up!
And just to keep you honest:
This thing's a hideous cross between a dragon, elephant and ninja turtle
I nominate this for WHAT THE HELL?!?! boss attack. Grinning red apples? Oh dear...
Remind ya of Peter Pan? Same creators. Try HOOK if you like SB
Why not spinning razors or even the contrived red laser beams? Ah well
Run Sky, run!
Jump Sky, jump!
Ah, just made the get-away and not a moment too soon
Spider-Man would be extremely proud
THE LORD OF WAR
The final showdown has arrived...
First ya gotta find a way to shatter his shield. Without his precious shield ya just might stand a shot in hell
OK he's really super easy
His main attack, Flamin' Homer's, is easily avoidable
EAT MY SHORTS, BUB!
A few dozen dropkicks and that'll be that. Like the other bosses, there's a glaring lack of challenge...
With how easy Ashura was, and recalling the plot that he was only doing the bidding for a higher power, you KNEW this couldn't be the end of it all... and you're damn right...
You won't have seen this much flashing since Girls Gone Wild College Spring Break Twins Extravaganza Edition Volume 11!
[Lucky guess -Ed.]
Raglan is tougher than a two dollar steak. So tough in fact that Sky breaks the ancient-as-time-itself action hero code
[So... did it work? -Ed.]
Not a chance in hell
[Ah... thought so -Ed.]
Maybe you remember this, maybe not. Ah the days of renting video games. And seeing the cheesy posters adorning the mom 'n pop walls
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
As you can see from the poster above, and from hearing word-of-mouth I'm sure, Sky Blazer has more than its fair share of fans. GameFan absolutely adored it. It was previewed twice, and also received a two-page GRAVEYARD edition in their September 2000 issue. ECM was so bold to call it one of the greatest SNES games of all time. I remember reading that whole retrospective article and thinking this had to be a GREAT game. Oddly, GameFan never did rate Sky Blazer
EGM:7, 8, 8, 8, 8
An interesting note... five ratings from EGM (not the traditional four) because this was one of those "tucked on the side" reviews where they had a fifth reviewer. And Sky graced what was a gorgeous cover of Super Play Magazine (#14). Cheers Wil Overton, your artwork will never be forgotten!
I came in with a lot of expectations, given all the praise I had either read or heard about. I wish I could say I feel the same way about this game. It was a tad disappointing. Good game? Easily. One of the best? From where I sit, no how no way. The levels are criminally brief. They stop just when you're getting into them. Baddies are dotted about sparingly and display lame AI. Magic spell antics are promised, but never fully materialized in quite the same way as those seen in class-A titles
Don't get me wrong. Sky is a great character and fairly fun to navigate. It's just the world he was given to do so failed to live up to its end of the bargain. Graphically, it holds up nicely. The Mode-7 boss terrors, the rotating tower, the multitude of scrolls, the vibrant colors and whatnot are easy on the eyes. But every once in a while, a crap water effect (Lair of Kharyon) or a dull enemy design will make you stop and wonder. The music is solid and suits the on-screen action to a tee. The boss theme rocks my socks. But I could do without Sky's infamous Homer Simpson grunting sound effect
All in all, Sky Blazer is harmless fun. Not the kind of game that made me jump up and down in my seat, but at times came awfully close. For some folks it did, so it might for you, but I just could not shake that feeling that this game's too lightweight for its own good. At the risk of being gutted, I dare say it's a bit overrated by the fans. Missing the ingredients to be a top-tier title, it does however fare respectably well in the class "Best of the Rest"