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Aero Fighters – SNES

Aero Fighters – SNES

AERO-FIGHTERSPlatform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Developer: Video System

Publisher (NA): Mc. O’River

Release Date (NA): November 1994

Genre: Shoot ’em up

Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed by Dovahkyle

Any game from the arcade brings back lots of memories for me. Though I didn’t spend as much time in them as I would have liked when I was little, as a teenager, it was a great place to hang, especially if we were dragged to the mall. As I was scrolling through the vast amount of ROMs I have, Aero Fighters quickly caught my eye, as I have wasted many a token on this little sucker. Yes, the game is the standard “Impossible” difficulty that has been made famous by so many good arcade titles, but my frustrations are overwhelmed by adrenaline, because “if I could just get to a little further next time...” became my excuse for punishing myself again and again.

pupsAero Fighters was released in the arcades in ’92, ported to the Super Famicom (Japan’s Super Nintendo) in ’93, and the SNES in ’94. I never had the pleasure of playing the console version as a kid, but since I now use the Snes9x emulator, I figured I would give this classic a second chance. Using my 3GC Steel Series Gamepad, which is really only good as a retro ROM controller, I loaded it up and gave it a whirl. Yeah, it’s just as hard as I remember, but just as fun too. Any born and bred Contra fan is addicted to – and maybe even a little obsessed with – power-ups, and this game feeds the fiend.

Gameplay

The player(s) starts by selecting a country to fight for:

  • us flagUnited States – (P1) Blaster Keaton with his F/A-18 Hornet (P2) Keith Bishop with his F-14 Tomcat
  • JP flagJapan – (P1) Hien with the FSX (P2) Mao Mao with the F-15 Eagle
  • SW flagSweden – (P1) Kohful the Viking with his AJ-37 (P2) Tee-Bee 10 with the JAS 39 Gripen
  • UK flagUK – (P1) Lord River N. White with the Tornado IDS (P2) Villiam Syd Pride with the AV-8 Harrier II

Of course, the first one I picked was the US because I live here, but I have to say, Hien’s FSX is probably the most devastating fighter with all the power-ups. As the chosen character’s fighter blazes through the sky at Mach speeds, shooting nonstop at everything, little power-up icons will bounce around the screen. If one of these is collected, the firepower of the fighter is greatly increased. The p-ups can be collected multiple times in a row, causing the fighter to launch screen-sized attacks, turning Aero Fighters into more of a dodging game than a shooter. The intense, vertical-scrolling battles will carry through eight stages, getting harder and harder each time.

country selectBeing touched once by any old flying bullet will demolish the jet and spend one of the few lives you start with. I was given the opportunity to continue after a game over (when all three lives are spent) three times if I remember correctly, so I could essentially die 8 times (9th being the final game over) before I had to start the game from the beginning. I actually have my emulator set up as one gamepad for 1st and 2nd player, so when playing games like Super Mario World, I can trade off with someone and I don’t have to go buy another controller. This made things interesting – after the first game over I was prompted to “press start button to continue,” but in the upper right-hand corner of the screen during play there is a call for the second player to press start to join the game, so can you guess what happened? Yea, when I pressed start to continue, the second player joined as well (because my controller is set up for 1st and 2nd player), and I could control both fighters at the same time. Sweetness! This was proving to be even more difficult, as staying alive whilst controlling just one is nearly impossible.

Story

Although there is no real story, there are small cutscenes between stages where the player’s choice of pilot receives new orders. He will quickly state “I’m on it,” or “Yes, Sir,” and then right back to the next stage. Depending on which country the player represents will determine which stages he/she will start on; as a stage is completed, the game will go to a cutscene with a kind of Google earth-looking  model and a large-scale explosion on the map will indicate the stage has been beaten.

Controls

Japan laserThe game consists of your typical D-pad (Directional Pad) for the up, down, left, right and two weapon buttons. The standard weapon, which is the one affected by power-ups, will be the constantly mashed button. The other weapon is for special attack, which floats around the screen in a bomb-shaped icon with the letter “B” on it. The specials for each fighter is different. For some, they call in airstrikes. For others, they shoot a giant laser beam, or even a huge bomb explosion. I learned quickly to save those bombs for the bosses at the end of the stages; a couple of those as backups can quickly obliterate a big enemy with little to no loss of life on my part.

Graphics/Sound

Not an awe-inspiring game, but efficient. The color scheme is often a military camouflage palette – dark greens, beige, and tan tend to be the color of the environment most of the time. The buildings I was flying over were sort of a “wannabe 3D,” which was good enough because the ability to maneuver at mach speeds and deliver devastating attacks on air and ground forces was way more important to me than the “realism” of the structures or background scenery.

Replayability

2 player

Timeless games like Aero Fighters can be played over and over again. Sure, the frustration may cause me to slam my laptop shut and stomp away, but I will always come back for more. If you thought Aero Fighters was fun/chaotic by yourself, try it with two players. Now we’re just getting crazy! It gets so chaotic you don’t even know what your shooting at anymore, but still a fun game to play for 20 minute breaks every once in a while.

Overall

Games like 1942, 1943: The Battle of Midway and Aero Fighters are titles I have treasured for a lifetime. I don’t know what I would have been playing if these classic, vertical scrolling shoot-em-ups weren’t around when I was growing up. There is no doubt this game is completely outdated when it comes to graphics and overall gameplay, but I’ll never get sick of playing it…at least in small doses.

Fun Fact: Famous author John Green (Looking for Alaska, Fault in our Stars), mistakenly read the title of the game as “Nerd Fighters” during the filming of a YouTube video post in the Houston Airport. “Nerd Fighters” is now what his VLOG fan base is called. I first thought, “how could you get ‘Nerd’ from ‘Aero.'” Trust me, look at the featured image; the way it is written looks like “Nerd.” Now that’s all I see.

Written by Nerd Bacon

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