Sky Gamblers: Afterburner is a jet dogfighting game in which players can choose to take part in a single player campaign or take to the skies in multiplayer match-ups. From what I was able to gather from the game’s lackluster story, is that players take on the role of military pilots from an unidentified nation to try to stop a separate group from their own ranks that has gone rogue. There is no voice acting in the game, just text on the screen. I felt that this failed to do the story any favors as it was just too easy to skip over it to get to the action.
The single player campaign comprises of 15 missions spread out over a handful of real life locations, including San Francisco, CA, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and New Zealand. The multiplayer offers players the same choices in locations, and several game modes including team deathmatch, free for all, capture the flag, and more. Just as it was unfortunate that the single player campaign was rather lacking, it was equally disappointing at how scarcely populated the multiplayer servers were. At the time of this review, being matched into a team deathmatch took several minutes and resulted in me being pitted against just one player. This 1 on 1 encounter took all of the seven minutes allocated and resulted in a draw after becoming a glorified version of hide and seek in the sky.
Not all hope is lost for the game though, despite its shortcomings.There are bright spots to the game. These lie in the game’s customization options, graphics, and the controls. The customization options for the game’s selection of over 100 fighter jets is quite astounding. Players can customize everything from the color and camo patterns to the look of the several missile types that can be equipped. Badges, emblems and more can also be added to each jet to further personalize it to each player.
The controls for the most part were intuitive and so long as they were tweaked just right, allowed for easy pick up and play. There are tutorials in the game showing players how both the simulation and casual control schemes work. I would definitely recommend doing those prior to jumping into the game so you can figure out which is best for you. I played the game with both the Nintendo Pro controller and the joy con controllers while still attached to the sides of the Switch, using both control schemes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually preferred to control the game with the joy cons on the casual control scheme, rather than the Pro controller. The joy cons made the jets feel more manageable.Turning the plane was especially more manageable with the joy cons than with the Pro controller.
Despite having previous experience with other flight games, I found that the simulation controls made the game far more difficult than it should have been. I stuck with the casual controls and had a much better time for it. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the gyro controls are off in the options menu. I left my controller perfectly flat and perfectly still, and my jet still took off on its own and did barrel rolls on its own.
The graphics in this game are like none I have seen in other Switch titles. The locations look fantastic. The sound is also well done. The jets sound great, and the soundtrack adds to the intensity of the campaign battles.
Overall, the game left a lot to be desired. For those looking to cruise the skies and live the life of a fighter pilot vicariously, I don’t feel like this will suffice. For those wanting to just pick up a game where you can blow up planes, this would be a competent choice. It does have its moments of fun and excitement, particularly in the early goings of the game’s campaign. Depending on the type of flight combat game you are looking for, you’ll either have a blast going Mach 2 with your hair on fire, or you’ll lose the edge and turn in your wings.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT, SKIP IT OR WAIT FOR A SALE?
GunpowdernBoom Recommends: Wait for a sale if you only have a Nintendo Switch. Skip it if you have other platform options.
If you like Sky Gamblers: Afterburner, you might like: Ace Combat, Flying Tigers: Shadows over China.
This game was reviewed with a review code from Atypical Games on Nintendo Switch.