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 Post subject: Fighter & Attacker / F/A by Namco (Arcade)
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2020 9:11 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 334
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Time for another old-school shooter. What about Namco's Fighter & Attacker (F/A as it's known in Japan)?

Now we're talking about making a hard decision.

THE 6-WAY SHOT GROUP: These jets uses the basic 6 bullet spread-shot, It requires to tap the fire button constantly for rapid firing. Also, their Sub-weapons and Speed will vary.
Manufactured under license by Mitsubishi for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). Its Sub-weapon is the 3,000lb Bomb which releases a volley of bombs that leave a trail of explosions. It has a speed level of 6/8.

NORTHROP/McDONNELL DOUGLAS YF-23A: Looks like the "Gray Ghost" version is utilized in the game. This was a technology demonstrator and a finalist of the Advanced Tactical Fighter competition, but it lost to the YF-22. It utilizes the "x2 ASM" (Short for "Anti-Ship Missile") a "One-Two punch" missile firing with lock-on capabilities that leaves an explosion after impact and a speed of 6/8 like the F-15J.

SAAB AJ-37 "VIGGEN": Sweden's multirole fighter, introduced in 1971 and retired in 2007. In this game, it uses a vulcan shot as its Air-to-Ground weapon and it has a speed of 7/8.

THE 5-WAY WAVE SHOT GROUP: Aircraft equipped with 4 way Spread shots dispite being called "5 Wave".
Acronym for "Advanced Fighter Technology Integration". In real life, the AFTI model isn't a combat aircraft, is a technology demonstrator aircraft for the joint Flight Dynamics Laboratory-NASA AFTI program. In this game, the F-16AFTI utilizes the 1,000lb Bomb which functions exactly as the F-15J's 3,000lb Bomb. Its speed is of 7/8.

LOCKHEED YF-22A "LIGHTNING II": The winner of the ATF competition. It is the prototype of what would later become the F-22 Raptor and used the name which would be assigned to the F-35. It utilizes the same lock-on target "x2 ASM" as the YF-23A and its speed level is of 6/8.

GRUMMAN F-14D "SUPER TOMCAT": The 1991 introduced F-14D is the final variant of the F-14A Tomcat. The original F-14A engines were replaced with newer ones similar to those of the F-14B. The F-14D also included newer digital avionics systems. Today the jet no longer exists as the remaining Tomcats were destroyed to prevent any components from being acquired by Iran which still has Tomcats up to this day. In Fighter & Attacker, the F-14D is equipped with the short ranged Vulcan shot as its Air-to-Ground weapon and it has a speed of 7/8.

THE STRAIGHT SHOT GROUP: Aircraft equipped with a 4-bullet Frontal shot. Like the other two, they require constant button tapping.
Another Mitsubishi-licensed jet manufactured for the JASDF. Its sub-weapon is the 2,000lb Bomb which is the same fire trail-leaving bomb of the F-15J and the F-16AFTI. Its speed is of 6/8.

GRUMMAN A-6 "INTRUDER": A early 60's precision strike aircraft which was retired in 1993 by the United States Marine Corps and in 1997 by the US Navy. It was replaced by the F-14 Tomcat. The A-6 utilizes the lock-on "x2 ASM" like the YF-23, and YF-22, and its speed is of 6/8.

BRITISH AEROSPACE GR.5 "HARRIER II": United Kingdom's Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing jump jet, developed from the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II and the original Hawker Siddeley Harrier. Like the AJ-37 and the F-14D, the Harrier utilizes the air-to-ground Vulcan shot. It's speed is of 8/8.

THE SEMI-AUTO SHOT GROUP: Aircraft that utilizes a semi-auto fire 3-Way shot. Pushing the button once fires two shots.
Tagged in-game as the F/A-18E which is used on the Super Hornet which was introduced in 1995, 3 years after this game. This fictional variation of the Hornet (notice the model A frame) utilizes the 2,000lb Bomb leaving a trail of explosions like the F-15J, F-16AFTI and F-4EJ. It speed is of 7/8.

PANAVIA AIRCRAFT GmbH TORNADO IDS: Wrongly written as "Tornedo", the MRCA stands for "Multi Role Combat Aircraft" which was a program to develop a variable geometry aircraft which resulted in the establishment of Panavia Aircraft and the development of the Tornado. This game uses the IDS model (Interdictor/Strike). Its subweapon is the "x2 ASM" lock-on missile like the YF-23A. Its speed is of 6/8.

DASSAULT AVIATION RAFALE: Tagged as "ACM" which is an acronym for "Avion de Combat Marine", which means "Marine Combat Aircaft" in french. As its acronym says, this is France's multirole carrier-based fighter and is still operational up to this day. It's Sub-weapon is the air-to-ground Vulcan shot and its speed is of 7/8.

THE AUTO SHOT GROUP: Aircraft that utilizes automatic fire that shoots three rapid bullets with one push of the fire button.
France's multirole fighter, like the Rafale it is still operational today. It's Sub-weapon is the 1,000lb Bomb and its speed is of 7/8.

GRUMMAN X-29: An Experimental aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and NASA. The X-29 is described as a three surface aircraft, with canards, forward-swept wings, and aft strake control surfaces using three-surface longitudinal control. But its configuration combined with a center of gravity well aft of the aerodynamic center made this jet very unstable. In this game, it is depicted with a military-like gray color and is equipped with the "x2 ASM". Its speed is of 6/8.

FAIRCHILD REPUBLIC A-10A "THUNDERBOLT II": The hard-hitter, tank-mauling aircraft and the predilect air-to-ground combat jet of the USAF. In this game, it utilizes the Air-to-Ground Vulcan shot and its speed is of 6/8.

THE FULL-AUTO SHOT GROUP: Aircraft that utilizes a full automatic firing that keeps on as long as you hold the fire button.
The first stealth fighter and rumored man-made UFO according to space and conspiracy paranoids. It is equipped with the 2,000lb Bomb as its Sub-weapon and its speed is of 6/8.

Welcome to the shoot-out party.

The plot is not explained in the game, but there's slight info in the arcade flyer, mentioning "Duralumin Troopers" in the air. This "Duralumin" faction disobeyed an ultimatum imposed by the United Nations and what happens next can best be described with a quote from AC/DC "¿Do you know what it means? ¿DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEEEAAANS?" THIS...MEANS...WAAAAAAAR!"

The gameplay is basically the same as Xevious, as the gameplay mechanics are basically the same from Namco's early shmup: Having an "all screen ranged" shot meant for Anti-Air enemies and the short ranged bomb weapon for ground target purposes. Unlike Xevious, your Air-to-Ground weapon can differ depending on which jet you've picked. The Vulcan shot is basically the most Xevious accurate as it targets one point in the screen. You have a bomb that leaves a trail of explosions and a missile that locks on ground targets, resulting useful to keep your distance from the enemy while concentrating on the aerial ones.
Since the game lacks of a power-up system, it relies on "Shot Groups" where you can decide if you want to use a jet with a 6-Way Spread Shot but reqiuring constant button-mashing or a Full Automatic fire but with a full frontal firing. While in a 1 player game this decision could be life or death, it comes in handy in a 2 player session as you can select a 6 way jet with homing missiles, and your friend the full auto with a bomb shot.
Difficulty is one of the main aspects of this game, and this is one of those hard shooters since the damage tolerance is of 1 second and you only have 1 life before being sent to the continue countdown. Yeah, you only have 1 second of temporary invincibility after hit, not to mention the armor gauge depends on the dip switch adjustments given by the operator, so you could be out if he decides to play [expletive] on the costumers by having the default of three armor points or have a better chance if he has mercy on the gamers and adjusts the gauge to 5. Also, high-scoring increases the armor bar further as long as you don't die, so you can climb up to 6. At least the game allows you to rank in before starting the countdown and losing your score if you continue the game.

To quote Crueltear: カルノバーン!!!

With the enemy pelting you all the time, one question remains. ¿Where's the bomb?. Well, the only "Bomb" attack of the game is unleashed when you decide to continue playing as a "wave" of explosions cover the screen damaging any enemy in sight.

I've reached the 1st place with a little help of my friends.

Rescuing soldiers and civilians are part of a bonus mechanic. Like the medals in Raiden, you can get bonus points by rescuing civilians and completing the stage without dying. To find those you'll have to bomb/vulcan shot random parts of the screen or destroying ground-based enemies to reveal the civilians and then you can pick them. In stage 2 they will be parachuted soldiers that will appear after destroying the large bomber jets.

Graphically, the game feels slightly inferior if its compared with other shooters like Raiden, there's bland asphalt, sand and sea backdrops, being the watery areas the main weakness of the game. But compensate the flaw with some fine detailings in the architecture of the buildings, refineries and bases.
The game drops the sci-fi setting of Xevious in favor of the modern day military setting, as we have on our side a coalition of American, Japanese and European aircraft, while the enemy utilizes the Soviet Union machinery, you can notice jets like the MiG-29 Fulcrum, Yak-38 Forger, Hind-D helicopters, the TU-22 Blinder-E, TU-22M Backfire, the SU-27 Flanker and the TU-160 Blackjack.
One thing to mention is how fluid the movement animation of your jet looks as you move it from left to right and returns to its original position, almost like a digitized CG.

"GET DOWN, EVERYBODY!" ¿Are we gonna fight or have a dance party? Joke aside, the soundtrack of this game is basically "Get down with the sound" in pure 90's style fast punding rave-dance-rap beat which fits incredibly with the game action. In the first stage, there's pauses where the game fills the beat with the enemy exploding with your shots like if you're granted the permission to direct the emotion of the beat for a few seconds. Also, there's no boss theme that interrupts the stage music, along with not too much sound effects, only the bullets of your jet and enemies exploding as if the game was trying to concentrate on the music. In fact this is why the game is mostly remembered. The voice samples are also very ad hoc with the music style with the "GET DOWN EVERYBODY!", "¿ARE YOU READY?", "LET'S GO!" and "Relax, it's all over!". For an 1992 arcade game, the sound is very high-quality and doesn't envy nothing to more advanced hardware like the Neo-Geo which was on its first steps back then.

- Namco has only made very few cameos for this game placing the japanese F/A logo on the stock red Hornet car in Ridge Racer.
- The third round song in the Taiko no Tatsujin rhythm game series is called “RAVE WAR”.
- Also, "RAVE WAR" was the working title for the Tekken series of fighting games.

Is that an Erusean aircraft? No matter, shoot it down anyway.

It's a shame that the game wasn't ported to a console or even on a Namco compilation 'cos it really deserves it. Although today will be much harder since it has to deal with the aircraft licensing thing nowadays (Corporate Crybabies). So this game is destined to be buried and forgotten forever for Namco-Bandai Games and wind up lying beside Pac-Man and Galaga *Insert Pac-Man death sound*.
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Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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