Shoot for the Stars in Fly Hard

Fly Hard

What do you do when a meteor looms over the horizon? With all the doomsday scenarios that we have all seen and heard about, this is the one galactic accident that seems to have the most drama attached to it. And not that it is the only one with a movie –other scenarios are out there in tinseltown too (zombies, coronal explosions, polar ice caps melting, nuclear holocausts, AI gone wild, intelligent monkeys –well, not the monkeys per se, but the virus that makes them intelligent). But one has to admit, no other end of the world scenario has seen such an epic movie as that of a meteor slamming to the earth (and no other holocaust scenario has an Aerosmith song either). So, back to our first question: what do you do?

For tank top toting Druce Millis, redneck extraordinaire, the answer is simple: big a rocket and blow that meteor right out of the sky. And that is exactly what you will be helping him do in Fly Hard, a simple game about being the baddest ass when the whole world is in the brink of destruction.

Launch Again, and Again, and Again

This is a launch game, not an action shooter, not an RPG. This means restarting over an over, saving up your earnings and buying as much upgrades as you can. It is a simple game, and it has simple controls. Basically, anyone can play this game, but the one question is? Should you?

In terms of concept, there is nothing here that you would not have already seen in another launch game, in fact, there are plenty that do the formula a whole lot better. But this does not mean that you should ignore Fly Hard entirely, in fact, the more you are a veteran of the launch game genre, the more reason you would have to play this game.

The twist here comes in the fact that this is not a game about just achieving all the upgrades, this is about maxing out your ship’s capabilities, then steering it skillfully up until the very end. Yep, you heard that right: even with all the upgrades, you still need skill –and plenty of it. And that is why we call this game bad-ass.

It All Starts With Attitude

The game has two simple controls, moving and accelerating. You can move by using the directional keys to steer the ship left and right. You will want to do this in order to steer your ship towards useful power ups and to avoid hitting other vehicles in the sky (planes, helicopters, satellites and even aliens –though if you just started playing, we recommend hitting five of them as soon as you can for the achievements, stat increase and massive cash bonus they provide). While it may seem strange that there is plenty of air-space traffic in the game, it does provide players with a bit of a challenge –and this challenge is enough to stop you from reaching the very end.

Getting to the final part of the game requires skill, patience and a bit of timing. Sure, you can max out all the upgrades and boost your way through, but that will only get you a little over half of the way to the end. The important part is to learn how to conserve your fuel and more importantly, how to maintain a strong enough acceleration that you never worry about getting pulled back by gravity. Oh, and since we have not mentioned it, hitting zero on your speed meter does more that put your ship on halt, it makes everything blow up.

We admit that it takes plenty of guts and determination to build a rocket ship and aim straight for the meteor, but when everything is at stake, why not? The only real issue is whether the fuel is enough, and as long as you steer smartly, you can conserve fuel while still managing to take out the meteor –in a fashion so fun that we would not dare spoil it for you guys.

A Real Heck of a Challenge

There is a lot to be said about the difficulty of this game. Sure, it is pretty easy to earn enough cash to buy the upgrades –and it really helps if you go for the achievements as soon as you can. This provides a huge amount of credits that you can use on the launch pad and making your movement a whole lot faster. But the challenge of the game is beyond that.

Fuel will eventually run out, no matter how much you economize. Unless you are really lucky to have so many fuel power ups falling your way, it is impossible to make it to the end just by pressing on the spacebar. This is where managing the power ups becomes important. Going after gems is taken out of the equation once all upgrades have been bought (you will not need the money after you have bought them all), this means that your focus goes on going up as high as you can.

The fuel drop allows you to increase your fuel load even by a small bit and the large directional arrows will boost your ship further up. Going after these two power ups is crucial in terms of baing able to maintain top speed and acceleration. Avoiding other vehicles on the other hand, keeps you from slowing down

Luck is also a bit of a factor in being able to finish a game as the sheer randomness of power-up spawns could mean that you go past the entire first half of the distance without even getting a single useful item (in that regard, you might as well re-launch). This means that aside from being really deft with the accelerator controls, you also need to have a bit of good luck on your side.

Not Much to Look At

The only big drawback of this fine game is the rather dismal graphic quality it has. Sure, there is a niche market for it, but that does not mean completely throwing all good sense of aesthetics out of the window. At the very least, you will not have to deal with absurdly contrasting colors. Instead, you get simplicity –which right now is the most we can expect of this title.

The helicopters, airplanes, stars and even the rocket itself looks like it has been sourced from a six year old’s scribbles and made a little bit cleaner with some Photoshop magic. That being said, the details are easy to figure out, the menus are self explanatory and going about the upgrade takes a very short while to figure out which does what. The reason why this is such a downer is because the game has so much attitude and potential that we really wished that there so much more to have in the visuals category. Nothing too fancy or detailed, but a bit of a hard-edged stylish flair would have complemented the mood of the game like an interface with a biker-garage theme or a ship that looks like it was a tractor fitted with a rocket.

The music is okay, nothing too impressive, but at least the developers avoiding a them that could be considered as cute or bouncy –which totally would have broken up the feel of the game. That being said, it would have been goog to add audio cues if there are power ups or other ships nearby –which helps since the view does not show you all of the stage. Knowing when to steer left or right in order to get to power ups ahead of time would have been a feature that was useful. Also, a distinctive “near-out-of-course” signal should also be in place, there is one, but it seems a little too close to the border or it really fails to stand out at all.

Summary

When it comes to launch games, one of biggest considerations is the replay value –after all, once the grind is over and almost all the upgrades are bought, it is only a matter of time before players finish the game. The same is not true of Fly Hard. Here, the real game beings after you get all the upgrades –pitting you against the entirety of the game feels plenty epic, and is a very worthwhile challenge for the hardiest of veteran players.

While the graphics and deliver could use a bit more work, the foundation for the game is already something that the developers should be more than happy to work with. They have found the basic gameplay elements that make a simple title addictive, and that is something that is not easy to achieve. Everything else that needs improvement can be polished in the sequel. The decision to make this game something of skill as opposed to perseverance is a brave effort that we applaud –it is one path that many developers dare not tread.