Shooty Skies takes the arcade-aping formula of Crossy Road that little bit further. It's almost a bullet hell shooter, albeit one coated in thick pixels and some of the most beautiful retro-style explosions you're likely to see this year.

It's sharper, more frantic, and likely to appeal to players who found Crossy Road a little too passive. This is an energetic shooter from a dev that understands how to tie the tightest compulsion loops in the fairest way.

Keep watching the skiis

You control your podgy ship with a single finger, dragging it around to dodge bullets and enemies. It's a system we've all seen before - if you're moving you're shooting.

There's a slight twist though. Lift your finger off the screen and you'll start to charge up a special move. Push it back down and you'll blast out a stream of deadly rockets.

It adds an interesting risk-and-reward element to everything. Yes, the move is more powerful, but you're a sitting duck while you're powering it up.

Ostensibly you're chasing scores here. The more points you earn the closer you get to unlocking a secret box. These contain cones and temporary weapon upgrades.

You can spend coins on unlocking new characters in a random crane game, or use them to buy the arsenal upgrades instead. There are, obviously, some characters you can't get from the crane, and figuring out how to get them is part of the longevity on offer here.

But the meaty core of the game, the shooting itself, borders on the brilliant. It's fast, it's chaotic, and the fat bosses are superb tests of twitchy skill.

It's kinder than your average shmup, and grazing bullets isn't the end of the world. It's funny too, dripping with references, cheeky jokes, and pugs that join your team and fire rockets at anything that moves.

Road to the shooting

I don't know if Shooty Skies will capture the imagination in the same way Crossy Road did, but in all honesty it's probably a better game. It's more fun, it offers more challenge, and did I mention those gorgeous explosions?

This is a casual shooter that's as sharp as most of the hardcore shooters you'll find on the App Store. It's just the trappings woven around it that are that bit softer, and that opens it up to a much wider audience.

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