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 Post subject: Aero Fighters (Arcade - Super Nintendo - PlayStation 2)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:40 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 250
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Time for another arcade shooter review. This time is Aero Fighters / Sonic Wings (now I've completed the trilogy of Aero Fighters' reviews).

Saturday Afternoon: Pizza, Arcades and Hornets blasting things out of existence.

The game gives the player the option of selecting 1 of the four available planes, however, Player 1 and 2 have exclusive planes.

Piloted by Blaster Keaton. He is a justice-loving man who is ready to defeat those who dare to attack his country, as he says "You can depend on me in times of trouble". His F/A-18's main weapon is the Laser Gun, which fires a frontal twin three beams laser shot that despite its size is quite weak. It's extra power level adds the level 2 large laser shot increasing the lasers width. The support weapon or "Artillery" of this ship is the Snake Napalm that fires a rolling fireball that damages nearby enemies, the Extra power level adds a second shot. The Hornet's bomb is the F.A.E., short for "Fuel Air Explosive" which drops a bomb that generates a circular explosion damaging and destroying any enemy within its radius.

GRUMMAN F-14A TOMCAT: Piloted by Keith Bishop. A fighter pilot and a family man who wants to go back home with his family once the war is over. The F-14's main weapon is the Needle Shot, which fires a wide frontal stream of thin lasers that causes great damages to the enemy, it's Artillery weapon is the Phoenix Missile, which fires an AIM-54 missile that locks on an enemy. The Extra power level increases the width of the laser shots and adds a second missile to the Phoenix Missile's fire rate. It's Special Attack is the Tomahawk, that summons a heavy missile strike that covers the screen.

Piloted by Hien, the Ninja Aero Fighter. He is a ninja pilot who follow orders from the Shogun on the ninja castle where the other ninja pilots are sent. His FS-X, according to the manual of Aero Fighters 2, it was rebuilt by a famous katana blacksmith. Its main weapon is the Shuriken, which fires ninja stars in a frontal, yet somewhat erratic trajectory as they go on a 5-10° angle as they move straight. It's Artillery is the Ninja Missile, which fires 4 small missiles that lock on enemies. The "Extra" power level changes the Shuriken Shot for the Kunai Shot and fires 8 Ninja Missiles. Its special attack is the Ninja Beam, which is a large laser beam that devastates anything in sight.

McDONNELL DOUGLAS F-15J EAGLE: Piloted by Mao-Mao, The Supersonic Idol Star. Mao is a singer who apparently got inside a jet that flies on its own as she constantly asks herself if she's dreaming and begs for the plane to stop, until she decides to show the enemy what a star like her can do. Her F-15's main weapon is the Laser Gun, the same as Keaton's Hornet. It's Artillery however, it's the Gull-Laser which fires a green twin laser pulse. The Extra power level increases the Laser Gun's width and upgrades the Gull-Laser into a 4 Laser shot kinda like the Axelay's Wind Laser. Its Bomb is the E-Wave, which freezes the screen for a few seconds giving you a considerable "Free Shot" time.

Piloted by Kohful the Viking. He is a man who is on the never ending quest to find who is strong enough to fight him, and this war could be his trial of fire. He is also a gamer as he consantly challenges his robotic friend Tee-Bee A-10 and argues about who won. Its main weapon is the Large Shot, as it fires a powerful wide frontal thin laser shot similar to Keith's Tomcat. Its Artillery, Metal Storm (not to be confused with IREM's robot platformer) fires a volley of small, but powerful missiles that inflict heavy damages. Its special attack is the Thor Hammer, which fires 4 missiles that passes through enemies, causing considerable damages.

SAAB JAS 39 GRIPEN: Piloted by Tee-Bee A-10. He was created by Kohful by order of Sweden's National Defence Radio Establishment. Tee-Bee gained autonomy and tries to destroy other machines to prove that he is the strongest. Like Kohful he is also a gamer and constantly argue each other about that, even discussing on the battlefield. It's main weapon is the same laser shot as Keaton's F/A-18, the Laser Gun. However, its Artillery is the Float Mine, which releases mines that float waiting to hit an enemy, the Extra power level increases the mine drop rate. It's bomb is the Grand Napalm, which unleashes a frontal-to-wide burst of flames that causes damage, but here's the catch: They don't destroy the enemy fire, making it quite useless.

Piloted by Villiam Sid Pride, a Prince whose girlfriend was captured by the enemy. Its main shot is the Wide Gatling which fires a basic three way spread shot backed up by its Artillery, the Cross Missile that fires a frontal twin missile shot that crosses as they move. The Extra power level makes the Wide Gatling fire a twin three way shot and shoots four Cross Missiles. It's bomb is the Supporting Bomber which summons a squadron of Avro Vulcan bombers to pelt the screen with bombs.

PANAVIA AVIATION TORNADO IDS: Piloted by Lord River N. White, who is the leader of the Aero Fighters. The main weapon of the IDS (short for "Interdictor/Strike") variant of the Tornado GR4 is the same Laser Gun as the F/A-18 and the JAS 39. Its Artillery is the Napalm Dispenser, which drops two bombs that leave an explosion upon impact. The Extra power level increases the Napalm Dispenser bomb drop from 2 to 6. For its special attack, the Tornado uses the Ring Bomb which launches 6 missiles that drop multiple small explosions pretty much like the yellow bomb from Raiden II.

From Rabio Lepus / Rabbit Punch. These two characters are the exclusive hidden characters for the SNES port of Aero Fighters. Rabio (Player 1) and Lepus (Player 2) are smaller than the rest of the jets, making them harder to hit. Their main weapon is the Twin Laser, which is stronger than any of the other jets. The Artillery of these two is the Homing laser beam, a green orb of energy that chases the enemy. The "Extra" power level changes the Twin Laser for a large laser shot and adds a second homing laser. For its bomb, they unleash a rotating stream of laser shots shaped like the character.
NOTE: To unlock Rabio and Lepus at the character selection screen, hold down the R button on the second controller, and enter the following code on the first controller: Left, Down, Right, X, Y, A, B, Left, Down, Right, Down, X, Y, A, B.

Maverick and Merlin VS Cyclonus and his Armada.

The gameplay of Aero Fighters is pretty much the same as Turbo Force. But this time, Video System learned from their mistakes in their car shooter and put the learning in practice, starting off with the power degrading, but this time you'll go back one level, so we can consider it the "Extra" power level, which is your temporary overpower level that grants you more power for a short while. The game also includes an "Artillery" which is the subweapon that provides extra firepower and support when it has homing capabilities like the Phoenix Missile. The game also has a "Bomb" attack to destroy all bullets and small enemies and what's best: You can use it on anytime you think you're gonna be trapped rather than wait for the special item to appear. One more addition to this game was the inclusion of bonus "Currency" items that grants you 1,000 points.
Continuing in this game is more forgiving than Turbo Force as your score is kept when you die but adding 1 point per credit rather than resetting it to nothing.

Something that i've noticed is the ship colors can be swapped. Everyone knows that Player 1's jet has a color to distinguish it from Player 2 in any other game. In Aero Fighters' case, Player 1 is Silver-blue and Player 2 is Orange-red. But if Player 2 starts first, the jet colors will swap: His/her jet will be the silver one and Player 1 will be seeing red. That's a rare, but interesting feature of this game.

The game pulls a random starting point feature to make each game session different from the first one, but this only applies for the first three stages, so you can start in New York, stage 2 could be Tokyo and 3 is France, if you die and start over you Stage 1 could be Northern Europe, New York and Tokyo, but stages 4 to 7 are already decided: Middle East, Mediterranean Sea, Russia Red Square and Outer Space.

Challenge was also rebalanced as the game's initial speed enters from an easy level of difficulty to the tough-but-fair degree in the later levels. However, there is instances where the enemy (mostly the last 3 bosses) throws you a fast curtain of bullets that requires either super dodging skills or simply using a bomb.

Also, this game includes something more than Turbo Force didn't: An ending. After clearing all the stages, the game will show an ending cutscene for your character (or team if you and a friend teamed up). But that doesn't mean the game is over yet, 'cos you'll be playing one more loop before it finally ends.

Ah, your first shmup "waifu".
You'd probably remember her better than your school books.

One of the features of Aero Fighters was including the identity of who's piloting the ship, breaking the premise of "You are the pilot" or like Super R-Type said "Performed by you!" while the US pilots are military based, the character designers took liberties with the rest of the cast as we have an idol, a ninja, and even a robot.

Graphically, the game has more limitations than Turbo Force due to the use of the modern day military theme as the game takes places on locations around the world like Tokyo, New York and the Red Square unlike Turbo Force's futuristic setting that let the creativity do the job and bring us incredible scenery and landscapes, while Aero Fighters brings us urban complexes. In a twist of irony, you can destroy buildings and cars for the sake of increasing your score and cause damages to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to pick a Bomb and a Power Up, what a way of being a hero, causing more damages than the enemy itself. As a military based game, the enemy relies on common vehicles like helicopters and jets, except for the bosses which look earthly-made and factible (Vazeel, the Hovercraft of the Mediterranean Sea and the battleship boss of New York stage).

If Top Gun: Maverick was released in the 90's it would had space fights.

Although the military is the common theme of this game (and the rest of the series), the game takes a turn into fantasy as the Red Square stage features flying towers that attack you as hovering ships or even like missiles, and not to mention the final stage that takes place in outer space as the Aero Fighters attack the enemy's space station.

The music is different from Turbo Force, rather than being too hard rocking, they've decided to use a more upbeat, somewhat Taito-styled that reminds me of some stages of Darius and Darius II, without being too spacy. The only problem is that sometimes, the instruments sound too MIDI-ish and Sound Blaster-esque if they're compared with Turbo Force.

The game was ported on the SNES, and while the gameplay and the graphics are very faithful to the arcade, there's things that differ from the source in the console port. To begin with, the opening sequence was simplified as some scenes were removed, for instance, the missile boat shooting at Keith's F-14. The ending cutscenes also suffered from these simplifcations. Some stage backgrounds were "squished" and they look deformed, the best examples are the mountains in one of the Europe-based stages and the hurricane in the space stage as if they look stretched. The jet colors are slightly different, while Player 1 is of a blue-ish silver color in the arcade, the SNES version is more of a light gray color, and the "color swapping" trick from the arcade version was removed, so if Player 2 starts first, he/she will be the red-orange plane. The cutscene text font was also changed for a smaller one (probably to fit on the SNES screen). But the worst part of the changes was the soundtrack. For some reason, rather than porting the original arcade music and rendering it with the SNES soundchip, they've decided to create an entirely new one. But it sounds like a Capcom game due to the notorious guitaring instruments used by the company on the SNES games like Megaman X and U.N. Squadron, although is not as notorious as Darius Twin, still makes you wonder "¿Why this game didn't had the arcade music?", that's an essential thing when it comes about making Coin-Op Conversions. However, THERE IS a bright side on this conversion, as it includes an additional Super hard difficulty, the inclusion of Rabio and Lepus, a second ending where the pilots says things like "what should they do now?", and a Boss Rush mode.

If you were disappointed with the Super Nintendo version, Aero Fighters was re-released again on a more capable console. This time it was on the PlayStation 2 as part of the Oretachi Gesen Zoku (Our Game Center Family) series, and this version what an Aero Fighters enthusiast will want: Arcade perfection in graphics and sound terms. The PS2 port allows you to adjust settings like difficulty and increase your starting stock of lives up to 9. As a simple Arcade-to-PlayStation 2 direct port, Rabio, Lepus and the Boss Rush from the SNES version were not included, the only exclusive things of the PS2 port are physical stuff like a replica of the marquee and a collector's card. Nothin' short of poetry.


Passing the torch to the Strikers 1945 Generation.

- Lord River N. White is based on the King Taro Kitashirakawa from Rabio Lepus. Along with Kotomi and Komomo who will reapper later in Aero Fighters 3.
- First and only arcade appearance of Blaster Keaton before his robotization in the later games. He will reappear in Sonic Wings Special as a hidden character, but in the F-117 as his robot counterpart.
- This was the only Aero Fighters game, and last Video System game released in the US by its Mc'O River division, since SNK released the sequels for the Neo-Geo.
- The MiG-31 Icefox / Siberiacrafts (Flamefox in Sonic Wings Special / Sonic Wings Limited) are based on the a reference to the fictional MiG 31 in the 1982 movie Firefox. While the numbering 31 is used in reality for the MiG-31 Foxhound, the jet was fictional speculation of the real MiG-31.
- Keaton's F.A.E. will be referenced by Psikyo in the Strikers 1945 series as the 1-ton Bomb on Cindy Voulton's P-38 Lightning and the Super Tomahawk on the F/A-18E Super Hornet.
- The Snake Napalm was referenced in Strikers 1945 III as the Roll Napalm used by the F-4 Phantom II.
- The Strikers series will also include space missions with both prop-planes and fighter jets.
- ¿How does the Fuel Air Explosive and the Grand Napalm would work in the void of space?

'Cos we can't talk Aero Fighters without the fan favorite Supersonic Idol Star.

- Mao-Mao's attire will be seen again in Sonic Wings Limited / Aero Fighters Special.
- Mao's band says "Air Commander for a Day".
- Mao's 19 years old in this game, 21 in both Aero Fighters 2 and 3, and 20 in Sonic Wings Special (That would put Sonic Wings Special and Sonic Wings Limited between the events of Aero Fighters and Aero Fighters 2).
- Her birthday is in November 14th.
- Mao-Mao was chosen as #11 in Gamest magazine's ranking of videogame girls in the special issue Gal's Island 2.
- Her japanese clothes from Aero Fighters 3 will become a hidden "character skin" in Sonic Wings Special.

Although this game was surpassed by its Neo-Geo sequels, Aero Fighters is worth a try once in a while.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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