There really is no story here, but that doesn’t matter. The only thing you have to know is that you are taking control of a spaceship (with an alien in it, of course), and must navigate it through some pretty tricky tracks in space, getting to the end as fast as you can. Even though this is technically a racing game, there are no opponents for you to race. That’s okay, because the game is already pretty challenging without the need for adversaries.
The first thing you’ll notice are the great graphics, despite the fact that the alien is very generic and boring. The tracks are what you’d expect from something like F-Zero, and that’s a good thing. It adds a layer of familiarity, even though it’s not the same. The music is pretty fitting as well, since it’s a bit like techno. Nothing goes together better than a futuristic soundtrack in space, right?
Controls are easy as well — two buttons on the left allow you to steer your spacecraft and the button on the right allows you to jump. Tapping on the jump button twice allows you to perform a double jump, which keeps things interesting with the game.
Along the track, there will be boost strips for you to go on, as well as stars to collect to rack up more points. Watch out for obstacles though, because they will slow you down.
Now, I said that doing a double jump in this game keeps things interesting. How? When you perform a double jump, your ship will change polarization — you will end up being yellow or red. Collecting stars of the same color will give you bonus points. However, while changing polarization, stars of the other color will become gray. When this happens, you have to either avoid them or change polarization again to collect them. Going into a grayed out star will stun you temporarily, and it will take a few seconds before you are fully off again. You’ll also have to jump at the right times to avoid falling off or running into a wall.
After you complete a set of levels in one zone, you will come across the bonus challenge level. This is a much longer course that pretty much combines all of the previous tracks into one, split up into multiple sections. You will have to go through them all in one go to complete it.
Levels will be scored by how fast you finish the track and how many points you earn. You can get one of three medals based on your performance (bronze, silver, and gold).
There are also upgrades available for your ship to help make the game a bit easier. You can upgrade the amount of points you get during boosts, enhance how fast it takes you to reach top speed, get stars from far away, and more. You earn upgrade points after earning a certain amount of points, so if you play enough you should get plenty of upgrades.
Game Center is supported for leaderboards and achievements, of course, so you can see how good you are compared to the other players from around the globe.
I’m rather enjoying the game so far, because it’s definitely a challenge. I love the fact that you have to be constantly changing polarization to make sure that you don’t get slowed down, and the visuals are just fantastic. I still think the game can be improved though, perhaps with some power-ups while on the track? It would also be cool to race against friends and see who is actually better.
I still recommend checking out the game if you are a fan of both platformers and racers. It’s a fresh mix and will keep you going at it for a while, because I certainly did try to beat my own scores several times. Skyriders is available for $1.99 in the App Store as a universal app for your iPhone and iPad.