Aerial Combat

  • Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+ (3DS)

    Game Info:

    Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+
    Developed by: Access Games
    Published by: Namco Bandai
    Release Date: February 10, 2015
    Available on: 3DS
    Genre: Combat Flight Simulator
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Teen for violence and language
    Price: $30.00 on LeapTrade

    Thank you Namco Bandai for sending us this game to review!

    Ace Combat games have been around since 1992 and are popular 3D air combat games available on PlayStation 1-3, PC, Gameboy Advance, PSP, Xbox 360 and in mobile and arcade formats.  Ace Combat Horizon Legacy  was released on the 3DS in 2011 and is a remake of Ace Combat 2 which came out in 1997 on the PlayStation.   Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+ is an enhanced version of Ace Combat Horizon Legacy that adds C stick support for rotating the camera and amiibo support for unlocking additional fighter jets and weaponry for them.  If you don't have any amiibos, the themed jets can be unlocked  throughout the game.  To unlock them you need to locate and shoot down Mario blocks found in some missions.

    Using my kids amiibos, I unlocked Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Samus themed aircraft.  Later in the game, I acquired a Donkey Kong and a Pac-Man jet. Each jet has its own attributes like speed, stability, defense, air to air/air to ground effectiveness, and mobility.  The amiibo earned jets are pretty powerful and can give you an advantage for sure.  Since you only need the amiibo once to unlock them, it's worth asking friends to scan theirs into your game if possible.  

    Other jets become available for purchase with credits earned from completing missions.  Just like Ace Combat Horizon Legacy, there are twenty three playable missions.  However,  they fork at times and you cannot go back and play the bypassed missions.  In order to play every mission you'll have to replay the story mode.  You can only set the game's difficulty at the beginning of the campaign, you can't change it mid-story.   There is a challenge mode where you can replay completed  or extra missions with less time and the ability to change the difficulty.  Any items unlocked in this mode will be added to the Story mode as well.  

    Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+

    Strong Points: Fun and challenging combat missions, wide variety of mission types 
    Weak Points: Short campaign; no multiplayer; cannot adjust difficulty in story mode; minimal content added from  Ace Combat Horizon Legacy
    Moral Warnings: Combat violence and language (d*mn, hell, SOB), red jet keeps coming back stronger thoughout the game. Is it piloted by a zombie?

    While there is some replay-ability, the campaign is relatively short and I had it beat in less than ten hours.  The game clocked me in under seven.  Needless to say, some of the missions got tricky and I had to revisit them after cooling my head and rethinking my strategy.  

    There is a wide variety of missions and while they are all timed, I only failed a mission by running out of time once.  There are different weather and sky conditions and the missions take place over the ocean, in cities, and some even have you flying through caverns or indoors!  In those tight conditions having a jet with high mobility is crucial.  Fortunately you can change your jet if you have to restart your missions from the beginning or from a checkpoint.  

    Some missions are only a few minutes long like the one where you have to take down a missile without using a targeting system.  Other missions can be twenty minutes or longer and checkpoints become available if you complete the mission objectives and new enemies appear.  Throughout the game there is an elusive red fighter jet that shows up on several occasions and gets tougher each time.

    The AI is pretty decent and some of the enemies do put up a good fight.  Many missions allow you to have a partner if you can afford them.  Their price increases after every mission, but I found them worthwhile.  There's a male and a female partner and each has different fighting strategies.  The female focuses on defending you while the male is an offensive fighter.

    Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 87%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 6.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Since this is a combat fighting game, you can expect to see lots of explosions as you take down planes, ships, helicopters and enemy buildings.  The visuals are pretty good and utilize the 3D effects nicely.  While there are some jagged edges, the planes and buildings are nicely detailed.  The smoke and explosions look believable.  

    I enjoyed the wide variety of music in Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+.  In the beginning missions the musical was classical, calm and soothing.  When the action got more intense, rock music would begin to play.  One of the missions even had hip hop music in it, I didn't expect that.  

    The voice acting is solid as you can hear both enemies and allies conversing with you over the radio.  To make it more realistic there is some language used as enemies are taking fire.  The word d*mn is used in many forms (d*mn, d*mn it, d*mn it all).  Hell and SOB (not spelled out) are used as well.  

    I suppose the language makes the fighting more believable, I honestly don't know what I would say in real life if someone was shooting at my 6 (behind).    Even still, it's a shame that this game won't be enjoyed by my kids for a few years yet.  Despite the language, I enjoyed my time as an ace pilot in Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+.  If you have a new 3DS I recommend this game if you don't already own the regular version.  For those with a regular 3DS I recommend looking into Ace Combat Horizon Legacy which goes for only $10 on LeapTrade.

  • Noah's Cradle (3DS)

    Game Info:

    Noah's Cradle
    Developed by: Silver Star Japan
    Published by: Circle Entertainment
    Release Date: September 22, 2016
    Available on: 3DS
    Genre: Aerial Combat
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Up (Fantasy Violence)
    Number of players: Single player
    Price: $5.00

    Thank you Circle Entertainment for sending us the game to review!

    Circle has been extremely busy this year porting over Japanese digital exclusives, and while most have been great, Noah's Cradle leaves a lot to be desired.

    Set in a time where humans have fled the Earth in order to avoid extinction, Noah's Cradle is the name of the ship that houses the fleeing humans. The game itself begins after the discovery of a giant gas planet and its hostile inhabitants. The game describes their sizes as hundreds of kilometers, but really the only enemies you'll encounter are small aircraft.

    There are three ships to choose from with the main difference between them being how many weapons each can equip. You start a mission by flying directly into an enemy cluster, though some missions literally pit you against one enemy, and it's up to you to destroy them all. While piloting your ship at first feels great, you quickly begin to realize that nearly every mission plays the same way. As you pass by the enemies you'll find that you can't turn around fast enough to shoot them, but the A.I. is so good that they've already turned around and have begun firing at your ship again. This is when I discovered that by boosting and doing a loop, you can always realign the enemies into your sight. Keeping an eye on the mini-map helps because enemies are displayed at all times as red blips. Each mission can pretty much be completed by doing loops, and very few times did the formula actually change.

    Noah's Cradle

    Strong Points: Nice variety in weaponry; Graphics are pretty good; Decent game length.
    Weak Points: Grammar errors make the story and menus hard to understand; Repetitive gameplay; Music is bland.
    Moral Warnings: Shooting down enemy ships.

    Stages are broken up into random missions, and after a certain amount are completed, that territory is claimed on the map. In between missions you can customize your ship with a bunch of different weapons. From lasers and missiles to rocket launchers, the standard Mech-styled customization options can be found here. Each weapon has its own properties and effective uses, but the only stat that matters is distance. Being able to shoot enemies before they can even lock on to you makes missions much simpler than they needed to be.

    Weapons can only be bought with funds, which are earned at the end of missions or by selling unwanted weapons back. By taking low amounts of damage and conserving ammo more funds can be earned. The problem with the shop though is that after a few missions I had enough money to buy the most powerful weapons available. This made progress feel insignificant as I could now just easily destroy enemies from a greater distance.

    Noah's Cradle
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 60%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 5/10
    Sound - 5/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Graphically, this one could have been great. Ships have some really nice details, and the planet in the background looks nice. This all goes out the window when you discover just how small the space is around you. After a minute or two of flying through empty space you'll eventually hit a barrier that will end the mission. Alternatively, if you fly too low you can also hit a mission ending barrier. There's simply just not enough going on around you, which makes the game feel underwhelming. The soundtrack consists of only a few tracks and for the most part they're nothing special. They do add a nice futuristic feel to the map screen, but outside of that, they fall flat. Weapons at the very least sound great. 

    Now the biggest problem I have with this game is the translation errors. Circle isn't known for having the best translated titles, but Noah's Cradle is riddled with grammatical errors and inconsistencies that make it nearly impossible to get invested in the story. Menus aren't as cryptic, though they do hold their own mistakes.

    Noah's Cradle isn't the next Ace Combat, and if you're expecting it to be, you'll most likely be disappointed. For what it's worth, Noah's Cradle can be a fun game, though that will ultimately come down to how much the player is willing to invest into it. If you're a 3DS owner and a diehard aerial combat fan, you may enjoy this one.


  • Star Fox Zero (Wii U)

    Game Info:

    Star Fox Zero
    Published and Developed by Nintendo
    ESRB Rating: E 10+ for Fantasy Violence
    Available on: Wii U
    Genre: Simulator/Action
    Number of Players: 1 - 2
    Release Date: April 21, 2016
    Price: $38.50
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Starfox Zero is the latest offering from the Starfox property by Nintendo. It plays very much like the classic SNES Starfox game and in fact, feels very much like a remake of it. Similar story, controls and visuals make the game play like an update. If you enjoyed Starfox for the SNES or StarFox 64, this is a good buy.

    The story begins on Corneria, the homeworld of the Star Fox team.  After being attacked by the forces of Andross, Fox McCloud and his team set off to bring the fight back to the enemy, liberating worlds, destroying space fleets, and encountering old enemies along the way.  Again, very similar to the original.

    For most of the game the player pilots an Arwing, the iconic transatmospheric fighter used by the StarFox team in previous iterations of Star Fox.  The weapons systems are familiar also, being a combination of blasters and Nova Bombs (limited supply).  Conceptually, the controls are also similar with special maneuvers like a loop-de-loop which can avoid enemy fire as well as shake enemies off the tail and the aileron roll.  It does have a new feature: it can transform into a land-based, birdlike mode which allows the player to walk around at ground level. This is useful when it's necessary to stop completely as the Arwing must remain in constant motion when in fighter mode.  Some levels require the player to move vertically upward in a way that would be impossible for the Arwing in fighter mode, and this mode is also very useful in other missions when the player needs a stable platform to fire from rather than strafing.

    Some missions also use the Landmaster, a hovertank like vehicle, and these missions are entirely ground based, though this vehicle does have a limited ability to fly in order to get a better angle when firing on some targets.   

    Finally, there's the Gyrowing which is a twin rotor helicopter-like vehicle.  This vehicle is equipped with a remote control robot that can be lowered by a cable to perform tasks as well as grasp items to be lifted and carried by the Gyrowing.  A downward facing camera allows the player to precisely aim where the robot needs to be, or to drop payload.  When the robot is out, the GamePad display shows the view from the robot's perspective to help with controlling it.

    All these different vehicles do add some variety to the game but with the controls being as complex as they are, the player has to get used to them all over again every time it changes.  Thankfully, there are tutorials and practice missions to help the player get used to the various controls and vehicles in the game.  I found myself using them often, especially when there was a significant time gap between gameplay sessions.

    As in previous iterations of this game, the player pilots Fox's vehicle as he leads the team of pilots to complete the various missions to advance through the game.  The story is on rails without any decision points other than difficulty level.

    Star Fox Zero

    Strong Points: Nostalgic feel; great graphics
    Weak Points: Complex Interface
    Moral Warnings: Mild violence; slight supernatural elements

    The Wii U GamePad is used to control the game in single player mode.  On the main screen is the external view of the vehicle while the cockpit view is displayed in the GamePad's touchscreen.  The various GamePad controls are used to steer and deploy weapons, but the physical orientation of the GamePad is used to control the gunsight when aiming at small or difficult targets.  The player can instantly recalibrate the center point of the gunsight at any time and I found myself doing so often.  For such a simple game, there really is a huge number of controls and for me, this is what differentiates it from the original Star Fox the most.  

    When using the gunsight the player has to look through the cockiptview in the GamePad.  This sounds really innovative, and it is different... but it does mean having to take your eyes off the main screen to look through the sight which can be a real problem when trying to avoid collisions while simultaneously trying to destroy a target.  It also means the game isn't playable in single player with a regular Wii Remote.

    I honestly had trouble keeping up.  The features are all clever ideas but each new innovation feels like it's just being tossed into the stew.  Yes, it allows for more flexibility and maybe even realism in gameplay but it doesn't feel that coherent.  Being able to independently aim the gunsight isn't a new idea but having to divert your eyes from the screen as well as the frequent need to recalibrate the sight control means managing the ship actually becomes harder than fighting the bosses.  It felt a lot like the developers were just trying to think of ways to use as many of the controls as possible.  A feature that I both like and hate is the ability to visually lock onto the currently selected target which allows the player to keep their eyes on the target at all times.  This is great for high altitude dogfighting.  It's terrible when there are things to run into.  With the player's view locked on the target it's easy to fly the fighter into obstacles because you're not looking at what's in front of you.

    Realtalk:  I never really did get used to these controls and as of the time of this writing I've gotten up to the final boss battle of the game.  I've heard that some players are able to adjust to the controls and find them very enjoyable to use.  Others, like me, find the control system so awkward that it takes away from the fun of the game.  Now, I'm a man of middle years so maybe my age has something to do with it but I had my son come over and play a few missions with me in co-op mode as both the pilot and the gunner and he didn't like the controls either.  In fact, this was enough of a problem to turn him off of the idea of buying his own copy.  So I guess the bottom line is that your mileage may vary.

    If you've got the Fox or Falco Wii characters you can use them to get access to the classic Star Fox skins for your Arwing.  The Arwing looks, plays and sounds exactly like the original game though everything else remains the same.  Doing so also slightly modifies the stats for the fighter.  I played using the Fox Character for a session or two and while the nostalgia of piloting the classic Arwing look was fun for about five minutes, it gets old fast when the rest of the game still looks great and you're flying around in a collection of polygons.  


    Star Fox Zero
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 2/5

    Morality Score - 90%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

    There is a multiplayer co-op mode though it does require a Wii Remote to play it.  One player takes on the piloting duties and relies on the main screen.  The second player is the gunner and uses the GamePad's cockpit view to aim.  This means teamwork and communication are essential.  During gameplay we did encounter some trouble.  At one point while my son was piloting he found he could no longer control the Arwing.  It was just flying in circles.  We had to pause the game, pull the batteries from the Wii Remote and put them back in, then resume the game to clear it up.  To be fair, it's possible that this wasn't the game's fault and that there was something wrong with the Wii Remote.  Also, during one battle, I (as the gunner) was able to see things through the GamePad cockpit view that were not visible on the main screen so my son didn't know about them.  This wasn't a game glitch, it's designed that way, but the problem was that I had to focus completely on the cockpit view so I didn't realize that the main screen was showing something different.  Of course, he had no way of knowing this either and we got killed several times before we realized the issue.  

    Lastly, the co-op mode is a fun way to have someone join the game with you or help you out but it feels disjointed from the game's story.  You have a pilot and a gunner, but it's still just Fox McCloud alone in the cockpit.  When my little daughter asked us  which one of us was Fox, we had to say "both of us."  That isn't a gameplay problem, it just breaks the immersion if you're into the story.

    The graphics are great, but then it's hard to be objective and compare them to other contemporary games when the natural comparison is to older Star Fox games.  The facial movements of the characters when they speak is a bit stiff, and it's hard to tell whether that's weak CG animation or meant as a deliberate shoutout to the old animation from the SNES game.  In either case, it feels like a shortcut.  The combat animations are suitably smooth and easy to follow.  The cutscenes seem to use the same engine as the actual gameplay so the transitions flow cleanly.  I didn't notice any graphical glitches or issues during gameplay, which is impressive considering some of the missions require the player to maneuver inside of tight spaces where graphics clipping could be a problem.

    I liked that some of the sounds are taken directly from the older iterations of Star Fox, and some are new.  For example, the sound effects of weapons fire are new but still sound familiar while the "good luck" sound as you start a mission sounds exactly the same as the original Star Fox.  The sound effects in general are adequate for the game though not particularly memorable.  The characters' speech uses human actors and is clear and easy to understand.  There weren't any audio issues noticed during gameplay.

    The game plays smoothly and didn't crash or freeze when I was playing in single player but we had issues with the Wii Remote though it's likely that had nothing to do with the game itself.  

    This game is primarily aimed at the younger crowd, so morality issues are minimal.  Of course there's animated space combat violence, and the only part that made me pause was Fox's scream when his fighter is destroyed.  It's surprisingly disturbing at times.  

    There are no language issues and no sexual content.  There's very little occult or supernatural content beyond the obvious presence of a variety of alien species, though that's not problematic in a moral sense.


    The final mission does have the ghost of Fox's father appear to lead him to the final boss battle.


    Fox's squadron represents the honorable and courageous Star Fox team and thus act morally and ethically in defense of their homeworld.  The player isn't required to do anything unethical to accomplish the missions other than to destroy enemy vehicles which are usually piloted.  I did downgrade the game on violence slightly because when enemy vehicles are piloted by important enemy characters, they tend to cry out or speak their last words when they're destroyed.  That means they aren't ejecting and are certainly dying in that fireball or the wreckage on the ground.  That might be a little intense for some of the youngsters.

    Overall this is a fun game and isn't too difficult to work through, though at times working the controls are a greater challenge than fighting the enemy.  I do recommend it for fans of the Star Fox series of games, especially if you would enjoy a more fleshed out backstory and more characters.

  • Starfox 64 (Wii VC)



    Platform: Nintendo 64, Virtual Console. (VC version reviewed.)
    ESRB Rating: E, no content descriptors.
    Date of release: 1997, July 1st.

    Ah Starfox. You can’t say that name without me getting a bit nostalgic. It brings back--good--memories from the days of my childhood. Starfox blasted its way into the U.S. on July 1st of 1997; it was a sequel to an earlier released Starfox game for the Super Nintendo. Starfox 64 featured fast action game play, full 3-D boss fights, and a surprisingly large amount of voiceovers for a cartridge game. What does this equal out to? A pretty good, and fun, game that is enjoyable if you have a bit of time. Here is why:

    Starfox is, for the most part, an on-rails shooter in which you control an “Arwing” fighter or tank (even a submarine once) to save the planetary system of Lylat, which is the world you explore during your time in the game. Starfox is a team of mercenary animals comprised of Peppy the Hare, Falco the Falcon, Slippy the Toad, and, finally Fox McCloud, the game’s hero. This game features a branching path system with three different paths’ to choose from: easy, medium, or hard. The path you choose will influence which ending you get after beating the game, and it can be rather tricky to stay on the hard path and get the better ending. Not only will you have to shoot down hundreds of foes, but you’ll also have to complete side objectives. Those range from shooting a certain amount of enemies, to hitting specific objects on the level, or even keeping a teammate alive. Needless to say, the game’s replay value is exploring all three paths. You can also find items such as the laser upgrade or bomb lying around in every level. Gathering these is important because you’ll need them later. There is also a training mode for those of us who need to practice our U-turns and blasting maneuvers. But the meat and potatoes of the game are the frantic twisting and turning you’ll need to do while shooting down enemies.

    The controls are very smooth and nice. The scheme depends on what controller you\'re using, but the basics are simple: move your ship and crosshairs using the control stick. Press the L or R buttons to do a barrel roll, and use the A and B buttons to shoot lasers or bombs respectively. Pulling off U-turns or somersaults is easy to do. Press a button and pull back on the control stick at the same time. The control shifts depending on what vehicle you’re controlling. The Arwing responds beautifully, with quick movements and easy maneuvering. Whereas the tank is slower and takes more time to move around. The sub is actually somewhat difficult to control because it’s slow and, well, underwater. I honestly have nothing to complain about.

    The sound of Starfox is good. Not symphony good, but really good for a shooter. It has a surprising amount of voice over work throughout the game. But they do occasionally sound somewhat tinny or muffled. Maybe they were going for a ship-to-ship audio effect, or maybe they aren’t very high quality. It sounds fun either way. Regarding the musical score, most of it is very good. There are a few less than fantastic songs and noises though, as the thousands of laser blasts your bound to hear will get old after awhile. Some of the music will be forgettable, but some of it, like the opening and closing themes, are pretty enjoyable to listen to. Actually, Koji Kondo created the musical score (For those who don’t know, he is to be “blamed” for creating the Super Mario Bros. music and most of the Zelda games, as well.) so it’s not too surprising that the large part of it is very good, and enjoyable.

    As for the graphics, Currently, they would be laughed at. But back in ‘97 they were pretty good. Not the best mind you, but the bright colors, full 3-D animation, and great particle effects would have drawn an admiring glint from anyone’s eye. Compared to other A grade Nintendo 64 titles it stood up well for the time period. The lasers even leave burnt marks on the ground if your blasts happen to fall there, and one level has a sandstorm blowing through it while you traverse the desert sands. They were good for ‘97, real good. And it runs very nice with no frame breaks or jerkiness, which is commendable for any era. Though...Whenever the characters in the game decided to drop a comment, a little window appears on your screen, nothing bothers me in this except the fact that their mouths move like puppets, just up and down. No sideways motion. It’s more humorous than it is bad, but I thought it worth mentioning.

    The appropriateness is pretty much clean. Language gets nearly zip with several uses of “dang.” Not sure if that would bother anyone though. Occultism is also nil, which is less than surprising. It was mainly violence that dropped those few points. Throughout the game you’ll be killing hundreds of baddies. Most of them explode in a puff of flame. But a few of them are animal’s, bird type things, which kind of fall apart. Also, on Solar, you fight a lava monster which losses its head and arms before finally succumbing to your laser fire.

    In the final fight with Andross--the real Andross, not the robot--you kill his head and hands and are left with an evil brain and two eyeballs--Which you then have to fight.

    And that’s the review. My final thoughts on the game are this: If you’ve not already guessed, Starfox is a favorite game of mine. The game has stuck with me through time. as a kid I loved the action, the heroism, and most of all; it was something fun to play. Later on in life, I began to enjoy the 90’s plot line, and fun voice lines taken from Star Wars that I hadn’t quite gotten as a kid. Starfox remains one of the most treasured games in my collection. It’s a favorite to be sure. The fact that Starfox 64 impacted at least a few of those who played it tells me to think its a classic: classics will remain loved by the majority of those who played it, and they go down in gaming history as such. Starfox receives a 42/50 for appropriateness and a 43/50 for gaming style. Adding those up leads me to a satisfying 85 or B as its total score.

    Appropriateness 42/50
    Game Play 18/20
    Stability 5/5
    Sound. 7/10
    Graphics. 8/10
    Controls. 5/5
    Final score: 85 which receives a B.
  • StarFox Command (DS)

    StarFox Command is the first (and latest as of this writing) entry on the Nintendo DS of their famed space combat franchise. It is also the first StarFox to make an appearance on a portable platform, in addition to being the Fox\'s debut online. This is the fifth StarFox game. The last two games on the GameCube, according to some, strayed significantly from the original formula that many expected from them. StarFox Command returns to the primarily space combat game play style, along with some strategy elements to boot. In this game, not only do you try to save the Lylat system, but you command the destinies of Fox McCloud and his friends as well.

    What is the core game play like?

    StarFox Command is a hybrid strategy and space combat game where you fly your Arwing (or equivalent for characters other than Fox) and blast your opponents out of the sky. In the story/dialog part of the scenario, the story is progressed, and you also make certain decisions that effect not only which missions you play, but also who you play as, and what the ultimate outcome or ending is. You cannot choose your path the first time through the game, but everytime thereafter you can. It\'s pretty neat, as you can mix it up each time and there are nine different endings to experience. Each mission is not simply a single level that you fly through like in many past StarFox games. In this game, you command each member of your squadron around a simple, 2D map that has icons on it which represent your ships, various item pickups throughout the map, as well as enemies, bases, and other hazards. Each command takes place on the touch screen where you manually perform each action with the stylus.

    You have a limited number of turns to complete each mission in, though when you capture a base you get two more turns to extend the number of rounds deployed. Strategy is fairly important, as doing things the wrong way or too slowly will almost certainly lead you to a \'mission failed\' screen. Another aspect is that you have a limited time before your fuel runs out. You can get more fuel by finding fuel pickups throughout a mission map, or in a combat zone. You can also destroy certain enemies who sometimes leave fuel behind, or do a barrel roll and dodge laser fire, which also adds usually two to three seconds to the clock. It can get hairy sometimes, but if you get ahead of the clock curve, you can carry that time over into the next encounter. Conversely, if you are behind, that carries over, too. There\'s nothing worse than going into a mission with five seconds remaining.. you are certainly doomed to death at that point. Since you command each member of the squadron individually, you will often find yourself piloting a ship other than the Arwing and with a different pilot inside.

    As you engage enemies on the battlefield, you enter ship combat sequences. In these, you see behind your ship as you fire away. You fire by pressing any button on the Nintendo DS, including the D-pad. All other control, including aiming your ship, is done via the touch screen. Though it certainly takes some getting used to, I have come to enjoy the controls a lot. Dragging the stylus around the touch screen aims your fighter. Double-tapping the top half of the screen will make you boost, while double-tapping the bottom half will cause you to slow down. \'Scratching\' the screen left and right quickly will cause you to barrel roll, which is extremely important in this game and used a lot. You can also hold down a fire button for a charge shot, and by dragging a bomb onto the appropriate part of the map screen you can do significant damage to all enemies in an area. There are also touch screen buttons for performing a loop-de-loop or doing an instant turn around.

    I really enjoyed the space combat scenes, even if they are different than the typical classic StarFox levels which were \'on rails\'. An \'on rails\' level is one in which the player is forced down a path that they do not have a choice but to follow. I also really enjoy playing as many of the different characters. Fox, Slippy, Falco, Krystal, and many others each have a unique feel to their fighting style. Fox is well balanced, Krystal is fast but does not have as powerful of armor, Falco has an incredible multi-lock capability with good firepower but low armor, and Slippy is incredibly slow with a lot of power and armor. I found him almost useless until I was in a one-on-one fight with plenty of time.. and I found even Slippy can be powerful. It\'s really fun when you find it difficult to defeat a particular enemy to mix it up with someone else who may have an edge against it.

    How are the graphics?

    In StarFox Command, they try with fairly good success to model the space combat graphics style after the first two games, StarFox and StarFox 64. I think they succeed. For those who have played the classics, the graphical similarities are undeniable. They are not of the best of quality at times, but certainly sufficient and stylized as you might expect from a classic StarFox. The character story sequences look nice, though not outstanding. The strategic map scenes perform their tasks, but are very basic graphically. Everything is represented with a 2D symbol there, including members of your team. I have never had any problems with the frame rate dipping unacceptably.

    How is the sound?

    Each character\'s voice is a gibberish that is \'spoken\' in different pitches to distinguish each character. It was kind of surprising to me at first, but it isn\'t annoying or anything. You can also program the game to use a voice sample from you to base the gibberish off of. Sound effects are as you might expect them to be. Combat firing and explosions are satisfying, and map/strategy view has simpler sound effects. I can\'t really complain about the sound effects. The music is decent. Nothing that I would really want to hear outside of the game so much, but decent. Each character has a different theme when in a battle, which further helps differentiate them, if a different looking ship and weapons, armor, and maneuverability are not enough. Not too many amazing pieces of orchestration, but no reasons to turn down the volume, either.

    How\'s the multiplayer?

    This game features up to six players in single-card multiplayer, as well as up to four people at a time who can duke it out online. There is only one basic mode, which is dogfighting with up to four players online, or six players wirelessly. Internet play consists of two modes: Battle Royale and Free Play. On Free Play, no statistics are tracked at all on each match. This is a good way to practice or enjoy a one-off battle. In Battle Royale, everything you do effects your rank. This is what you join for more \'serious\' play. At the time I was trying to play online, I found it easy to join a Free Play match, but more difficult to find a Battle Royale match. I do not know if it is always like this. Multiplayer is smooth and definitely fun for what it is. Honestly I was a bit disappointed that it was so simple though. Having more variety in flyable characters and game modes would have been great. Though it seems to me a bit of a missed opportunity, for what it is it\'s very well done.

    How appropriate is this game for Christians?

    In StarFox, there is a lot of flying, shooting, and blowing up of robotic ships and creatures. There is some shooting down of pilots, which do not always die, but sometimes do. There are also some plot twists in which you can choose to have characters go with your friends, strike out on your own, or join other factions. Also several of the female characters are depicted as having rather \'obvious\' breasts, though mostly through tight clothing. Of course all characters are anthropomorphic animals, and not people per se. The ESRB gives this game an E10+ for the rating, and I tend to agree with their assessment.

    Overall & Conclusion

    StarFox Command is a very fun game with controls that work very well once you get used to them. I played this game with the thumbstrap which I greatly prefer to the stylus for games with similar controls, but even with the stylus it works very well. Single player mode is a lot of fun and has a lot of twists and turns if you are willing to replay it a few times to see multiple endings. Without taking advantage of multiple endings, it is fairly short. Also the main game is fairly easy to complete, but some of the scenarios of the other endings are definitely challenging. Multiplayer is somewhat simple, but very fun for what it is. I would say this game is very good overall. I wish it was more in a few ways, but I do like it a lot. Not great, but very good. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the StarFox series or other similar third-person space combat games, assuming the relatively minor appropriateness issues are considered first.

    Final Ratings

    Appropriateness Score: Violence 7/10 Language 10/10 Sexual Content/Nudity 8.5/10 Occult/Supernatural 10/10 Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10 Appropriateness Total: 45.5/50 Game Score: Game Play 16/20 Graphics 8/10 Sound/Music 7/10 Stability/Polish 5/5 Controls/Interface 5/5 Game Score Total: 41/50

    Overall: 86.5/100


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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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