I forgot all about Skyblazer

At the end of the DF Retro video about the upcoming SNES mini, they discuss some of the games that they would have liked to have seen on the final roster of pack-in titles. Most are worthy but obscure titles like the platformer DoReMi Fantasy which incidentally I’d never heard of before today, but it looks pretty damn great.

But at the end of the list came a game that lit up a part of my brain I haven’t used in 20 years…

“Hold on, this rings a bell…” I thought, as gameplay from Skyblazer filled the screen. “Yep, this is definitely familar…”

I took to Google, and the more images of the game I found, the more dormant memory nodules were triggered. “Skyblazer! Yes, I had this! It was bloody great!”

Somewhere along the line I’ve completely forgotten about owning and playing this fantastic SNES game, and I still can’t remember buying it or what happened to the cartridge. But the more gameplay footage I watched, the more I remembered about the game itself. Funnily enough, it was the sounds that really brought it back – especially the weird barking noises made by the lamp boss at the end of the third level (check it out at the 5.00 mark in the video below).

It was a wonderful game, sort of a medieval fantasy version of Strider complete with wall clinging and energy blasts, although with fists and feet taking the place of fancy energy swords. There are also some impressive uses of the Super NES’s Mode 7 technology, with spinning 3D towers, morphing bosses and into-the-screen flying sections.

What a great game. I’d really love to play it again, but seemingly it’s never been rereleased on Nintendo’s Virtual Console or anywhere else. This could be because the game was published by Sony Imagesoft in Europe and the US, so there’s a chance that Sony weren’t happy about it appearing on Nintendo’s download service. Or, perhaps more likely, everyone else has completely forgotten about it, just like I did.

Still, what a shame if this game is destined to become just a footnote in gaming history. It was one of the standout games for the SNES, although it had some stiff competition – in fact, it came out just before the release of Super Metroid in early 1994, which probably didn’t help sales.

The developer, Ukiyotei, folded not long after its release, and Skyblazer was by far the standout game from their short and patchy gameography – the highlights of which include video-game versions of the limp Peter Pan spinoff Hook and Neo Geo Pocket conversions of Metal Slug. As a developer, they barely lasted five years. But they left behind an absolute gem of a game that has sadly been largely looked over.