World War II-era aerial dogfights are a fairly underutilized device for games, except for the odd shmup or flight simulator. An especially tricky concern is raised when one has to consider how to implement it in a mobile, touchscreen environment. Fortunately, local developers Red Dot Lab might have just nailed it with their new title Blazin’ Aces.
FLIGHT OF FANCY
The game has players taking on the role of a sky jockey as he enters the cockpit and proceeds to turn enemy pilots into smoking piles of twisted metal. It’s simplicity itself as you’re expected to steer, take aim and fire away with reckless abandon. It plays out sort of like a horizontal shmup, but it has its own mechanics, as well as unique style and charm. One of my favourite features is how the planes are flippable; this allows players to dodge otherwise unavoidable bullets. It goes a long way to making the game more fluid as well as visually appealing.
An interesting touch is how, in the campaign mode, it spawns an ally pilot to join you on your murderous mission. It’s not long before the screen is filled with acrobatic planes, black smoke and bullets flying whimsically in all directions. It’s chaotic, frantic fun, though I would have preferred it if the planes were slightly larger.
During your flight, boxes will drop down from the sky. It’s in your best interest to swerve down and scoop them up, because they contain all manner of power-ups that potentially turn the tide in your favour. A rather neat little feature is how power-ups can be manually activated, giving gameplay a slight tactical edge as players bide for the perfect time to deploy their bonuses.
If you’re being a n00b and your plane is shot to pieces, you can choose to eject your pilot before things go critical. It’s cute watching him parachute to the ground and running to take refuge in a nearby building. Make it safely and you’ll be rewarded with a new plane in mint condition, ready to give the good fight a new lease on life.
Blazin’ Aces is clean-looking and professionally-rendered. Backgrounds remain fairly plain, but it works well in making sure players aren’t bombarded with too much needless visual information while they carry out their task. Sound effects function perfectly as your plane fires and stutters with convincing realism. Options are plenty, from resizing the on-screen controls to playing a quick skirmish rather than the full-length campaign. It’s a solid product, it’s an ideal coffee-break blast and it’s another fine example of local game development.