Airwolf – Nintendo Entertainment System
Do you want to know what Arnold would say about this game? “Run from the choppa.”
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Developers: Acclaim Entertainment, Elite Systems, Kyugo
Publishers: Acclaim Entertainment, Elite Systems, Amsoft, MCM Software
Release Date: September, 1987
Nerd Rating: 3 out of 10
Reviewed by LifeShowChris
The review that you are about to read may be one of the shortest in history. This is simply because when something looks like, sounds like, and plays like shit, it must be SHIT! If you are an avid fan of the Airwolf television series then I should apologize and say that I am sorry. However, I am sorry for your loss because Airwolf falls flat with lackluster controls, sounds that must have been captured inside of an aluminum trash can, and graphics that are on par with an inkblot test.
The controls sound simple enough and you may be able to pick them up. Your A and B buttons will fire your machine guns or the red, orb, missile, glowing, ball style weapon of heat seeking destruction. The left and right directional pad will turn the helicopter left and right while the up and down directional pad will increase or decrease the altitude, all while you do not have a clue what is happening. Whilst I was attempting to learn how to use the aforementioned controls, I struggled even more when I learned I had to control speed as well, and this all had to be done utilizing the most confusing, non-realistic, and jumbled up mess of a heads up display. Sure, there is information there such as your altitude, speed, and direction but it doesn’t feel like much of it means anything. You will also need an extraordinary amount of patience and luck to utilize these tools while attempting to keep 10,000 or so odd enemy aircraft from blowing your chopper to pieces with their own grayish blue orbs of death. Your best bet here is to simply keep the weapon buttons depressed and use the machine guns to destroy the missiles coming at you. The machine guns are the white orbs travelling away from you. Either way, the controls are there. The issue lies in the fact that it doesn’t feel smooth or easy to operate, it actually feels like you aren’t really doing much at all. If you do get lucky enough and are successful at navigating through the enemy swarms, you will need more luck to be able to efficiently read the map. It is pretty easy to read but you won’t feel like you are actually controlling the little triangle that represents you. This might all seem easy enough, however, it is a recipe for disaster and failure.
One of the great things that Airwolf does well is that it has a very high amount of re-play value. This is simply because from mission one you will be doing the same thing over and over again. Every mission is basically a replay of the last. Fly around attempting to survive, try and rescue some hostages (good luck), and strafe by some buildings and blow them up before you are spotted by radar. Rescuing hostages involves a 2D side view of the chopper from the outside and you have to navigate between some inanimate objects and slowly and gently touch down and wait for the hostage. By the way, this is the EXACT same thing that you will do when it comes time to re-fuel. The only difference is that a pink van shows up to give ya the old fill ‘er up. Interesting I know, but I guess in some abstract reality from The Matrix, that may happen.
There are some aspects of the game though that do perform well. One of those items is the Airwolf theme song. The song was translated into the NES with beauty and grace. It is an exciting moment when you hear the song and prepare for your mission. It also has the ability to really pump you up while flying. It isn’t till about the 5,000th time you hear it will you never want to hear it again, so about mission two if you make it that far. It is as if you have fallen asleep and someone has turned on the song and placed it on repeat all while the song is also playing in your nightmare. When you awake and turn on your NES realizing you never removed Airwolf from your last gaming session, you will want to immediately grab the nearest 12 gauge and swallow a mouthful of buckshot.
An item that truly worked well in the game was the interaction between Hawke and Colonel Hannibal Smith. During the mission briefings there is a spot on rendering of Colonel Smith as he describes the mission to Hawke. It may be the mustache or the eye patch, but it just works. And that is truthfully the only part of this game that does work. They were not even able to render the Airwolf logo as well as they did Colonel Smith. The logo looks more like something out of an acid trip or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
With all of this being said I truthfully cannot recommend this game to anyone, not even my worst enemy. I would not want to put them through the same emotional trauma that I received while I was playing this game. This is all coming from an avid Airwolf fan. I watched the show on the regular and enjoyed it but somehow the translation between the show and the game was simply not captured. The game was either left out and they forgot to work on it, thus needing to just stop development and copy/paste additional levels, or it was created by interns at a game store. If you have any sense at all you will heed my warning and steer clear of the under rated Airwolf. That is right, I say under rated because when it comes to the shit scale, it should have gotten a 10 out of 10. End result, 3 out of 10 for me and I need to go now so I can receive some shock therapy for the amount of time I played that worthless piece of gaming trash. On the other hand, the box was cool as shit!
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