Game Title: Sky Gamblers Storm Raiders
Company: Atypical Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 3 – 4 hours
Download: 617 MB

Flying games on the Switch haven’t gotten to a great start for me. In my search for a good airplane sim-sort of game, I found Vertical Strike. Despite having a nice feel and look to its planes and combat, it felt like it was little more than a technical demo of something that should come far later down the road.

Now, we have a new game to fly into, called Sky Gamblers. It started as a mobile title and had some pretty good reviews, both on mobile and on PC. It looked good and boasted a lot of interesting features, so I figured I’d give it a try.

After playing it, I’d say my purchase and attempt was worth it. So, here is my review of Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

The 3 campaigns of this game take you through a few major battles from World War II, though you don’t get a continuing storyline outside of mission descriptions for each campaign. Nonetheless, it is more than having no story at all.

Gameplay

sky 5 - cockpit

Sky Gamblers is an arcade-style 3D flight simulator with heavy combat elements thrown into the mix. In every mission and game session, you’ll be flying WW2-era planes through large environments with the goal of shooting down other planes, ships, AA guns, and more.

The great thing about this game is that there’s a lot to do and unlock. You’ve got 3 Story Campaigns and 13 Dogfighting Missions that can be completed to unlock new planes, and a plethora of other game modes you can dive into, both offline and online. Just from looking at the main menu, you can tell the game’s got a lot to offer.

The Story Mode is divided into three 6-mission campaigns, each centered around a certain geographical area and its battles, such as Pearl Harbor with the United States and The Battle of Britain for the UK. All of these campaigns will have increased difficulty, but also give you various sides of the war, so you’re not just playing as the United States or Britain, giving you some mission perspectives from both sides of World War II.

sky 4 - flying train

The missions, themselves, are normally similar in task. You fly with your squadron and take out enemy forces, whether they are planes, ships, AA guns, or bases. However, each mission also has multiple things for you to do. Each mission has stages that you go between as you complete each task, and many of the bigger missions will give you alternate things to do outside of fighting, like landing on an aircraft carrier out on the ocean to swap out weapons for a new objective, flying low in a canyon to avoid enemy detection, or flying through a tunnel to take out a supply bridge.

I really love that aspect of the game, because it throws so much variety into its missions in the way that the Ace Combat PSP games did. But it creates uniqueness in more ways than that. The game has formation commands to have your AI partners stay with you, or break formation to attack other enemy forces, and some pretty impressive destruction physics, with small pieces flying off your plane as you take damage and even entire wings flying off depending on where you start taking damage from enemy fire.

The game also is a bit of a strategic flying game, too, in that you can’t just fly at top speed and fly and turn around like it’s nobody’s business. This isn’t Ace Combat. These older planes weren’t made to constantly turn, flip, and barrel roll at top speed. If you fly too high in the sky or make constant turns while flying too fast, your instruments will start to mess up and, sometimes, your engine will overheat and completely shut down on you. This gives you some realism, but also gives you strategy in being careful what you’re doing and where you’re doing it.

But the game also gives you a helping hand. Because most of these old planes only had Machineguns attached to them, there’s an Aim Assist feature to help you lock onto and shoot down targets. As long as a target is within a certain range of your cross-hairs, you can fire away and still hit and destroy them. You can turn this off as well, if you want a greater challenge.

sky 2 - game modes

Now, outside of the Story Missions and Dogfights, there’s a heavy Multiplayer emphasis on the game. When you’re done with your campaigns to unlock your new planes, you have 5 different game modes you can jump into: Free for All, Free Flight, Last Man Standing, Capture the Flag, Base Defense, Team Deathmatch, and Survival. Outside of the more casual Free Flight Mode, all of these can be done in both Single Player against AI enemies or in Online Multiplayer against real opponents. This gives the game a pretty robust Multiplayer experience on top of the Single Player one.

What about length? Vertical Strike had almost nothing to do, but this game surely does. Across its 3 campaigns and the Dogfighting Missions, you should be spending at least 5 or 6 hours in this game. Even more if you get into doing the Multiplayer aspects of it. But, for its price, there’s plenty of content to go around.

Controls

Controlling this game isn’t too hard, though the default control scheme is a bit odd.

You move your plane around by using the Right Analog Stick for pretty much all movement outside of using the the Left Analog Stick for strafing left and right. This was very strange to me, and it took me some time to adjust to it. The ZL and ZR triggers are used for your primary and secondary weapons, and the Y button can be used to swap which weapon is your primary and which is your secondary.

Finally, the arrow buttons / D-Pad can be used for issuing commands to your allies, and the A button is used for activating the cinematic auto-pilot, which can be used for the visual spectacle or just letting the AI spin your plane around while you shoot down a group of enemies from around you.

Overall, it’s not that hard to use, but it took me a long time to adjust to the Right Analog Stick being used for basically all movement. But I will say that I did have the Auto-Pilot get stuck in Auto Mode a few times where the game wouldn’t allow me to go out of the mode with the A button and I had to close the game to fly normally again.

Presentation

sky 3 - pew pew

Graphically, things look good, but some things aren’t as polished, either. The amount of detail in plane damage is very impressive, though a lot of the environments you’re flying over don’t have much detail at all. The cities don’t look bad, but next to them, you see a lot of flat, blurred terrain that doesn’t look that great with the detailed planes flying over them.

Performance is good and I have no complaints there. The fps is nice and smooth, and I saw no stability issues.

Battery Life

This is another game that’ll net you a good amount of time in handheld mode. Here are my Battery Times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 19 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 28 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 48 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 01 minutes

Not low, not especially high. Still, it’s a good amount of flying time when each mission should only take you around 7-10 minutes a piece.

In conclusion, Sky Gamblers is, without a doubt, the best offering on the Switch in terms of flight simulation and air combat. Although it is brought down a bit by its low-res environments and strange control scheme, anyone not turned away from this game originally being released on Mobile will find a flyer that’s got a lot of unique and fun physics elements and tons to do, both alone and with friends.

Final Score: 8.5/10