Aero Fighters Assault
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The first flight combat game for the N64 will be making its way to the U.S. later this year thanks to McO'River, the U.S. branch of Japan's Video System Co., Ltd!
Aerofighters Assault (known as Sonic Wings Assault in Japan) is the latest addition to a long-running series of games that spans from the arcade to the Neo-Geo to the Saturn and the PlayStation and even the Super NES. While most of the past Aerofighters games were 2-D arcade-style shooters, AFA takes on a completely new look: 3-D.
Similar in overall presentation to Namco's Ace Combat 2 for the PlayStation, Aerofighters (which is being developed by Paradigm, creators of PilotWings 64) lets you take the role of one of four fighter pilots, each with its own unique aircraft, to do battle against the evil Phutta Morgana and his powerful forces. After you choose your ace, the remaining three pilots will become wingmen and help you out during your missions (similar to how the wingmen in Star Fox 64 help out).
There are 10 missions in total in the Main Game Mode (some of which are hidden and/or bonus missions), each with varying objectives. The first stage involves flying through Tokyo (with realistic landscapes-even the Tokyo Tower stands tall in all its glory) to locate and destroy a huge spider-like mech while defending the Metropolitan building. Another stage is set high in the sky against a huge flying fortress and its escort aircraft. There are defense missions as well-like the Shuttle Defense stage where the object is to protect a space shuttle from attack long enough for it to get off the ground and into space.
Other modes of play included in AFA are a Two-player Split-screen Dogfight Mode (Death Match), a special Training Mode that allows you to practice your maneuvering, your skill against an Al pilot (a dogfight with the CPU), or your skill against one of the game's Bosses, and finally, a Boss Attack Mode that wasn't yet implemented in. the preview copy we received.
Aerofighters Assault is expected to ship sometime in October, and while the game could still use a bit of work in certain areas (particularly the overall size of some of the maps, which seemed rather small when compared to those in Ace Combat 2), the overall package does look promising. On a final note, the game will support the Rumble Pak, so expect to really feel it when Morgana's forces send your aircraft hurtling into the side of a mountain (Ouch!).
- MANUFACTURER - Paradigm
- THEME - Flight Combat
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2
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Aerofighters Assault is one of those rare games that you root for because it looks great...but ultimately you're more disappointed than a turkey on Thanksgiving when you actually play it. AA isn't a bad game, it's just one that could special effects, including great explosions, varied backgrounds, and nice wreckage on downed ships. But the outside-the-plane view makes your jet look like a toy, and the rest of the background doesn't convey a sense of speed.
A sense of speed is just what this game needs, too--not only is AA's speed slower than Grandma's driving, but the lack of it also severely affects the controls during the heat of battle. Your approach to other craft seems to take forever, and all the while you're getting nailed from behind. Speaking of control, the analog stick is actually a hindrance because turning the plane left or right requires directional-pad button presses,
Sonically, Aerofighters isn't breaking any barriers either. A friendly female voice will guide you through most operations, calling out enemies and informing you when wingmen go down.
Aerofighters Assault is not as fast or as fun as most PlayStation shooters, and it certainly doesn't match the mach speed of StarFox 64 or, for that matter, Pilotwings 64. Unfortunately, if you're a fan of flying games, your choices will be limited to flying the 'Fox or getting assaulted by Aerofighters.
- In the first stage, slow down to let your wingmen engage the first wave of fighters, then sneak in and help them out with some added firepower. Also, let them do some of the dirty work against the boss.
- The oldest tricks work well--if you're almost down, crash into the big ships.
- In the third stage, fly above the Boomerang bombers. When you're a considerable distance away, turn and take out the small scout ships from behind. Machine guns and homing missiles will easily do the trick.
- In the second stage, there are two Leviathan destroyers with escorts. It's almost impossible to nail the subs when they're submerged, so take out the frigates that are close to the Leviathans first.
Flight combat hits the N64 in a big way with AeroFighters Assault as you take to the skies in four types of aircraft. The Main Game mode features a variety of challenging missions, where outlined goals must be completed within a specified time period, while the death match enables you to compete against a human opponent in a split-screen view. You can also hone your piloting skills in the helptul Practice and Boss Attack modes. While some obvious bugs still need to be addressed, this sim-style shooter appears to be another solid addition to the N64 lineup.
This N64 installment of the multiplatform Aerofighters series is both fun and intense--once you get past its few glaring flaws. Namely, the game suffers from a choppy frame rate and some of the most frustratingly tough levels this side of Blast Corps. The choppiness is a surprise, considering Aerofighters Assault was developed by the sim gurus at Paradigm. (In their defense, the game packs at least triple the graphics punch of PilotWings 64, Paradigm's previous N64 offering.) Still, the flight models of the four selectable fighter jets are fantastic (they were designed by a former Navy fighter pilot), making for excellent control, and the third-person dogfight view is a nice touch. You get three Practice Modes and seven mission-based levels, most of which have you taking out dozens of targets that surround a mammoth Boss--all while engaging in the occasional dogfight and covering your wingmen's tails. And although early missions are a bit ho-hum, later ones have you protecting the space shuttle, zooming through narrow caverns--even dogfighting in outer space. Score high enough and you'll earn access to four cool but brief bonus missions, including a landing attempt on your airborne carrier. You can even earn extra planes for use in the Two-player Dogfight Mode. This mode didn't hold my interest for very long, though.
AFA has come a long way since the rather forgettable preview version shown at E3. The game has been polished up quite a bit, and while the finished product isn't exactly perfect, it's still a lot of fun. The missions are diverse and interesting, and the enemy Al is very nicely done. Control is tight, and the multiple camera views are a welcome feature. On the downside, the frame rate is pretty choppy, and the Two-player Mode is boring.
Aerofighters doesn't look mind-blowing, but it's a fun game. There are lots of jets to pick from, and a large variety of interesting missions. The game is very challenging, and sometimes the missions seem impossible, but after practice, each can be completed. It's good to play a difficult game when many are too easy nowadays. While Aerofighters isn't as polished as Ace Combat 2, it should satisfy gamers who like arcade flight sims.
I think Aerofighters Assault looks pretty good, but looks don't go all that far. It's a fun game, but that's for a short time. After that, it's just the same thing: enemy jets, maybe some ships and a big Boss in the middle that has these powerful twin cannons. The levels are cool (especially the third level in the sky), but that just isn't enough for me. It's a good mix of standard flight sim and arcade action, but it's really nothing new.
Known as Sonic Wings Assault in Japan, Aerofighter Assault is an intense flight sim/action game for the N64. It features on-screen modern HUD (Heads Up Display) as well as radar functions and ranged weapons. Your ammunition stores are boldly displayed in graphic clarity in the lower-left corner of the screen to keep the alert pilot aware of his/her supplies while venturing through many country/cityscapes. These areas range from uninhabited deserts to mass urban metropolises and even the chance to launch a few missiles at some ball players. Games like this is what the analog controller was created for. Players can probably hear the missile-lock sound ringing in their ears from anticipation.
- MANUFACTURER - McO'River
- THEME - Flight Sim
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
A distinctly poor attempt to do an air combat game on the N64, from the makers of Pilotwings. Although the planes themselves are well-modelled, the game as a whole is appallingly slow. It also suffers from badly thought out level designs where the bosses can be attacked right from the off, meaning some stages can be over in moments. A 1 huge let-down.
Abysmal airborne shoot-'em- up with borders as big as Soviet Russia and not even the tinest amount of that thing called 'fun'.
Let me set the scene... Terrorists these days being the well-organised but on the whole rather antisocial chaps that they are, a group called Phutta Morgana has mounted a world-wide offensive in a bid to eradicate democracy, freedom of speech and pot noodles.
Your mission, as if you needed to be told, is to stop them - or at least, to wait until they've dealt with the pot noodles and then stop them. To enable you to accomplish this, and in a plot-line that will have the writer of Iron Eagle reaching for his 'Beginners Guide To Plagiarism Law', you are have been given command of a team of elite pilots created by taking the best and brightest members from the world's top airforces.
Initially, you are able to choose from four of the world's deadliest attack aircraft - an A-10 Thunderbolt, an F-14B fighter, a Russian Su-35 and a small jet aircraft called an FSX. Each plane has different flight characteristics, different weapons systems, and different pilots. The handling varies considerably from aircraft to aircraft, and you'll find that the effectiveness of the various weapons vary considerably against different targets.
Gimme The Guns!
The F-14, for example, carries heat-seeking Phoenix missiles, which will split up and pursue the nearest hostile targets. This makes them great for taking out agile airborne opponents like jets and helicopters. However, the random target selection system means you can't choose which targets the missiles will go for, and this makes it difficult when, for example, you're trying to pound a particular target, particularly if it's on the ground as the missiles seem to prioritise air targets.
The A-10 on the other hand has line-of-sight rockets, which follow the trajectory they were launched along. Aerial targets are therefore tricky, as the missiles will not track them, but slow moving and stationary ground targets can be hammered since the rockets - put simply - will go exactly where you send them. The various capabilities of the different aircraft are suited to different missions, which you'd think would mean you could choose the most appropriate aircraft for each mission - except that you can't swap aircraft between missions! Why not? I mean, what's the point?
When you fly into combat, you do get the three aircraft you haven't chosen as your wingmen. Unfortunately, they don't do much more than harass the enemy fighter aircraft and constantly get into trouble. When it comes to taking out the major targets, you're on your own.
The mission structure itself is fairly simple. You need to destroy a massive boss vehicle within a set time limit, and you need to go through a mass of support aircraft and ground vehicles to get to it. Or at least, you do in theory...
Which brings us to one of the major game flaws. In most shoot-'em-ups, such as Lylat Wars for example, you must pass through a level full of minor enemies before you can engage the end-of-level boss. Although this makes for a game with somewhat linear play, it nevertheless gives you some kind of structure. With Aero Fighters Assault however, the structure is a little different. Instead of encountering the enemies in sequence, you meet them all at once, in a fairly circular playing arena, and can take on the boss from the word go.
This would be great, if, for instance, you were forced to pick off the smaller enemies before you hit the bigger one. But you don't need to. The layout of the combat area, and the constraints of a short time-limit in which to complete each mission, mean that you don't even have to bother with attacking the smaller enemies; instead, you can just go in head first and take on the level boss immediately.
The game style is very reminiscent of the old arcade coin-op Afterburner, which caused a sensation with its hectic second-person jet fighter action. Sadly, although Aero Fighters Assault may have recreated the looks of the old game, it hasn't managed to capture the thrilling gameplay of the now-dated shoot-'em-up. The major reason for this is the speed, or rather the lack of it.
This game is just so slow! The jet fighters don't so much fly into combat as trudge. You'll soon find yourself under the impression that the planes would probably be able to move faster if the pilots climbed out of their cockpits and pushed. And this is even before any other aircraft appear on the screen! Get a lot of enemy activity on the screen at once - which, as all the enemy aircraft are on the field from the beginning, is pretty much all of the time - and the speed drops from 'trudge' to 'if-we-went-any-slower-we'd-be-going-backwards'.
And speed is the key. It doesn't matter how impressive or realistic the gaming engine is if the whole things runs about the same rate as a hibernating hedgehog!
Unusually, for this sort of game, the multiplayer head-to-head deathmatch mode is actually faster and smoother than the main one-player game, and this is one of Aero Fighters Assault's few saving graces. The reason for this is that there's nothing else in deathmatch mode except for the opposing aircraft, and as the game only supports two players, there's never more than two aircraft to handle. In the air-only scenario, there's not even any ground to worry about, but the downside of this is that it gets difficult to work out which way is up and you'll probably spend the majority of your time just looking for the other player.
This game had so much potential, but it just doesn't cut it. The control system, for instance, has been well thought out. The controls themselves are completely definable, and there are two different systems, one 'normal' and one 'novice'. In novice mode the aircraft handling is simplified, making it easier to control but not as manoeuvrable as with the normal system. Barrel rolls and loop the loops for instance, are not permitted, but this stops the inexperienced novice immediately going into an uncontrolled spin and crashing. Once you're used to the plane handling, the normal option then allows all the spectacular aerial moves you could wish for, along with the associated dangers.
It's just a shame that everything moves so slowly. It's not as if there's even that much scenery to handle. Fly through Tokyo, for example, and you'll find some buildings, but the majority of the city has been covered with water as a result of a terrorist 'thermo-bomb' being detonated and raising world sea levels. Whilst this is obviously an interesting plot-line, it rather conveniently negates the need for a lot of detailed ground images. Not that I'm implying this was the intention mind you. I mean, there are some levels with ground, such as the desert with, er, rocks and things...
Still, It Looks Nice
On a more positive note, the graphics are very good. Buildings - what few of them that there are - when hit with a missile don't just explode, but instead slowly collapse in upon themselves in a fiery heap. Frigates take a pounding, then when they've had enough keel over and slowly sink beneath the waves. Enemy aircraft sometimes explode outright, and at other times barrel slowly towards the earth in a ball of flames before exploding. Rockets and shells blow spray from the water. Rock arches can be flown through. There are so many excellent details in this game that it should be good.
On the other hand, the cockpit view doesn't actually include a cockpit, and the Heads-Up Display appears on the exterior view of the aircraft as well as the interior, blocking a lot of the action from view. It must be said that you do need it though, because without the altimeter and with the lack of surface detail, once you get below a certain height it's practically impossible to work how far you are from the ground.
Aero Fighters Assault is going to have to go down as a nice idea, badly implemented. Who knows, perhaps by the time the PAL version emerges, the whole speed/slow down problem will have been eradicated. Well, it might happen!
Until then, if you fancy a reasonably good two-player head-on deathmatch, then you might want to look here, although the deathmatch mode alone doesn't really justify the price. Otherwise, unless you don't mind flying through the air faster than a speeding milkfloat (with no wheels) then it's probably best to steer well clear. I'm off now to do something a little more thrilling, like... oh I don't know, stamp collecting maybe.
Good in spells, but flawed and disappointing at length. AFA feels realistic enough but is too dull, too often.
To access the secret planes, go to the Title Screen and press Left-C, Bottom-C, Right-C, Top-C, Left-C, Right-C and Down-C.