Here’s one word I’d use to describe Red Barton and the Sky Pirates: SIMPLE.
Okay, one more: EASY.
That’s not always a bad thing. If you’re looking for something mindless, noncomplex, and frustration-free, this is the perfect game. Red Barton comes across as a simple arcade game, albeit one that doesn’t get harder as the levels progress.
The basics: you fly your plane down a track, shooting at canons that are shooting back at you. Once you get to the end of the track, you fight the boss, which is essentially another, bigger cannon that – again – you shoot while it shoots back at you. After you defeat the boss, you go to your workshop, fix up your plane, buy a couple more grenades, and head for the next track to start all over again. And that’s pretty much it.
It’s no secret that there’s nothing complex going on here. The storyline is simple, the graphics are simple, and the gameplay is simple. Sometimes that’s okay. For instance, the simplicity of the graphics is charming, calling back to old Nintendo games. The cartoonish planes and characters become a little endearing, and their over-the-top cheesiness seems intentional.
I also didn’t totally mind the simple storyline. You play as the Red Barton, who valiantly tries to save his true love (a princess, of course) from the evil King. Levels are interspersed with uninteresting dialogue between the two, but the story is a classic, riffing off of every adventure game in the history of gaming.
But the real issue was the simplicity of the gameplay, and that was a pretty big roadblock to my enjoyment of the game. The levels were easy, even on different modes. You could almost get away with dodging the cannonballs until you reached the end, without firing a single shot, which made buying new ammo and grenades in the workshop pretty pointless. I spent a long time trying to figure out how to aim the gun before I finally conceded that you can’t aim the gun – you just fly your plane up, down, left, right, and shoot straight ahead. The boss fights were even more problematic. Once I just put my finger on the left arrow key, kept it there the entire level, and clicked, shooting the boss over and over as his canons missed me, until he was out of health. Which was not very much fun.
The ease of the game seems at least in some ways intentional. Red Barton is reminiscent of a simpler time in gaming, which is a cool idea. But the gameplay itself was so monotonous that I can’t give this game a higher rating than 5.
Watch the new Red Barton and The Sky Pirates Gameplay Trailer:
Red Barton & The Sky Pirates by independent video game developer, Schism Worldwide and publisher, Plug In Digitalis is available on Steam for PC/Mac priced at USD $6.99.