Sky Kid is a side-scrolling horizontal shooter created by Namco. It originally ran on Namco's arcade hardware, and was later published by Sunsoft for the Famicom and NES. It can be played solo or with two players simultaneously.
Sky Kid has the player cast in the roles of the Red Baron or the Blue Max. These two pilots are based on the famous flying ace of World War I (Manfred von Richtofen, the Red Baron), and the Prussian order Pour le Merite (the Blue Max), though this is a very loose association with those historical figures. The game takes place in a fantastical reinterpretation of the aerial battles of World War I, where the player must dodge and shoot their way to an assigned bombing target.
Sky Kid is played as a two-dimensional side-scrolling horizontal shooter, using an eight-way joystick and two buttons. One of the buttons fires the plane's gun, and the other performs a defensive flip maneuver, during which the plane cannot be harmed; hammering on the flip button will also help bring the plane out of a stall if it's been hit by gunfire or flak cannons.
Each level of the game tasks the player to fly through an onslaught of airborne and surface enemies. Near the end of each level there is always a main bombing target, such as a base, factory, or large battleship. In each level a bomb will be placed close to that target. The player must fly low and pick up the bomb, then deliver it to the target, taking care not to do a defensive flip as that is the same button that drops the bomb. It is not necessary to bomb a target in order to finish a level, but doing so will yield considerably more points.
Sky Kid is an odd duck among horizontal shooters in that it scrolls from right-to-left, as opposed to left-to-right like Gradius or R-Type. The plane's gun also has a very short range, so the player must be close to an enemy to successfully attack. Also contrary to the typical horizontal shooter, flying up or down will cause the plane's nose to pitch up or down 45 degrees; this pitch also changes the direction of the plane's shot until it rights itself again. Finally, the player must successfully hit a landing strip at the end of each level or run out of fuel and crash. All of these idiosyncrasies add up to a shooter that is very different, and very difficult compared to its contemporary, and even modern cousins.
Sky Kid can be played by one or two players. A two-player game will be played simultaneously. In Sky Kid, firendly fire is always on, and players' shots and bombs will send the other player into a tailspin. Misplaced shots during this mode can quickly turn a cooperative game into a fiercely competitive one.
Trivia and Secrets
- Doing a flip in some areas will change elements in the background. For example: there are some areas where the sun appears in the background, and flipping near the sun will change it into the moon, and the day will become night. This has no impact on gameplay, but it's an interesting twist.
- Shooting the girls at the end of the landing strip will turn them into smiling, dancing puffs of smoke.
- Sky Kid was the first Namco arcade game that allowed two-player cooperative play.
- Sky Kid has been referenced in later Namco games such as Ridge Racer, Ridge Racer 2, Ace Combat 5, Ace Combat 6, and Taiko Drum Master.