Showing posts with label Iron Aces. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iron Aces. Show all posts

A Quick Look At Iron Aces

War is hell. So said General William Tecumseh Sherman way back in 1864, apparently. War was undoubtedly about as close to hell as human beings could get going way back to pre-history and antiquity, and still happens to be so in the modern day. With this in mind, the last major worldwide conflict was World War II, and this is the theatre which acts as a backdrop to the Dreamcast's only dogfighting, dive-bombing, kamikaze-preventing flight sim: Iron Aces. Sort of.
See, Iron Aces from Xicat is very much a game that is set during the height of the 20th century's most deadly conflict, but also one which takes place on a fictitious archipelago made up of islands which bear striking resemblances to Great Britain, Germany, the United States and Japan. These are the main belligerents featured in Iron Aces, but the names of the countries have been doctored somewhat, even if the geographic shapes of the islands haven't. So, Great Britain becomes Trincer, the United States is Valiant, Japan is Yamato and Germany is Blocken. This is initially quite puzzling - especially since the actual countries involved in WWII are name checked constantly, and the Royal Air Force constantly referred to; however, the slightly fantastical setting undoubtedly gave developer Marionette the freedom to create missions and scenarios which, in reality, did not take place.
With this in mind though, there are numerous instances where real life events are clearly the inspiration for mission types and objectives, so the puzzlement remains intact. Anyway, I'm jumping the gun a bit. Join us as we take a quick look at one of the Dreamcast's hidden gems in the form of a true Battle of Britain simulator - Iron Aces.
The Dreamcast isn't short of decent flight sims and flight-based arcade shooters. There are the outstanding Aero Dancing/AeroWings titles if realism is your bag; and likewise there are games like Propeller Arena, Incoming and Air Force Delta available if you prefer more arcade-styled aerial thrills. Iron Aces however, sits slap bang in the middle of these two styles. It really isn't a simulator and it has a couple of mechanics that prevent it being classed as an all out arcade experience, and so it's pretty fair to class it as both a sim and an arcade shooter at the same time. And also one that takes a few liberties when it comes to historical accuracy. Don't let that put you off though, as to write Iron Aces off due to its slightly fabricated pseudo-WWII setting would be doing it a disservice.


Carrying on from yesterday’s meandering insight into my recent purchase activity, I thought today would be as good a time as any to pour scorn onto the other glittering jewels/polished turds that I have inducted into the Junkyard.

Dragon Riders: Chronicles Of Pern

Anyone seen Eragon? You know, that shit Lord of the Rings wannabe? I have – and it’s poo. Malkovich – you know where the door is. Anyway, Eragon and Dragon Riders could quite easily been separated at birth. I realize that they’re both based on books by totally different authors before some green-toothed librarian comes on here to engage in some pathetic argument, but the fact remains. But back to Dragon Riders. You play a titular Dragon Rider who lives in a magical noddy-land type place called – you guessed it! – Pern. The world is under threat from some enigmatic evil thing called Thread and it’s down to you, with the help of your dragon, t’ save t’ world, laddy. Quite how you will achieve this by wondering around sparsely populated Kokiri Village knock-offs is unclear, but that’s the aim anyhow. Dragon Riders is essentially your bog standard westernized RPG. You build up stats for your character; you get different outfits; you engage in very poorly done hand to hand combat; you go on sub-quests that involve finding things for lazy NPCs. For me though, the biggest disappointment in Dragon Riders is that YOU DON’T GET TO RIDE ON A DRAGON! 

There I was expecting some Panzer Dragoon style action – you know, blasting shit with snazzy lasers and opening up family sized cans of WHUP-ASS on terrified villagers – when all the Dragons act as are portals for getting around the map! You walk up to your Dragon, tell it where you want to go…and Whoosh! One black screen later and you’re at your destination. Pah! RUBBISH. Graphically it’s pretty good – the outside environments are quite impressive and the animation is decent although the Dragons look like they’re made out of balls of playdough. The voice acting is really rather good too – much better than in, say, Shenmue. Loading times are horrific however, so be warned. Best bit though? Have a look in the booklet. It’s got PC installation instructions in it! The lazy cunts couldn’t even be arsed to make a proper Dreamcast manual. Tsk. 6/10

Note: It would’ve been 9/10 if I could fly the Dragon and shoot flames and all kinds of crazy shit out of its mouth.

Iron Aces

Another plane based shoot ‘em up for the Dreamcast, Iron Aces differs from the rest of the pack (Aerowings 2, Deadly Skies, Incoming et al) in that it’s set during WWII. Sort of. You see, even though at its heart it is for all intents and purposes a game set during the height of the Second World War, all of the theatres are totally fictitious. Therefore, instead of fighting the Hun over the English Channel or the fields of Southern England, you shoot down Messerschmitts and attack enemy naval convoys around a made-up archipelago consisting of bizarrely named islands that are meant to represent real countries. 

So England becomes ‘Trincer,’ Germany becomes ‘Blocken,’ Japan is ‘Yamato,’ and the US is renamed ‘Valiant.’ WHY? Surely just setting the game in 1940s Europe would have been sufficient – why go to all the trouble of making up some half-arsed, contrived story to go along with a WWII game? Surely the REAL War is good enough as a backdrop? The mind well and truly boggles. Anyway, you play an unnamed young pilot in – as ever – the US Airforce. And it’s up to you to save the poor old defenseless British from the ever advancing Axis of Evil. So you hop into your fighter plane, take to the skies and dish out some pain. This being WWII and all, there are no magic homing missiles – just machine guns and bombs, so shooting down enemy planes relies more on your own skill than in Deadly Skies where you have fire and forget missiles at your behest. The thing about Iron Aces is that it’s totally unremarkable. The pace is sedentary, the graphics completely average (and very bargain basement), the sound totally pathetic. And why you have to press TWO buttons at the same time to drop a bomb is a question only the developers can answer. Also – why does the camera need to switch to a 3rd person, spinning-around-your-plane view when you do manage to drop a bomb? Where you can still control the plane? So you can inadvertently smash your plane into the sea/floor because you couldn’t see where you were going? Genius that. So to sum up: Iron Aces – weird. 5/10

Wacky Races

I was never really a fan of the Wacky Races cartoons to be honest, although Dastardly and Muttley are truly legendary creations. As far as licensed games go though, Wacky Races has got to be one of the best ever. It’s about as close as you’re gonna get to something like Diddy Kong Racing on the DC, in that you start the game by driving around a small ‘hub’ level and must drive into the different areas of the map to access races on tracks in that particular theme. I suppose the most striking thing about Wacky Races though, are the superb cell-shaded graphics. Oh, and the brilliant voice samples and sound effects deserve a mention, too. When you strip all the aesthetics away, Wacky Races is a ‘kart’ game, with loose handling, loads of suitably wacky characters (all from the cartoon series) and weapons dotted about the track that you can use to hinder the progress of your enemies. Wacky Races is a marvel to look at and all of the environs are suitably garish – although the dreaded slowdown does rear its ugly head every now and then, but it’s nowhere near as bad as that seen in Exhibition of Speed. So Wacky Races then. Amazing graphics, lots of challenge, loads of longevity. A bit of a corker really. 8/10

Looney Tunes Space Race

Cell shade overload alert! Coming from the same Infogrammes/Warner Bros stable as Wacky Races, Looney Tunes Space Race is another cell shaded racer that – dare I say it – features even better graphics! Seriously, at times you could be forgiven for thinking you were playing an actual cartoon. LTSR differs from Wacky Races in that eschews the familiar hub style setup in favour of a more traditional menu-driven system. You win races, you get tokens. Tokens are then used to ‘buy’ other cool things like challenge races or view gallery items like character models etc. What sets LTSR apart though, is that it a genuinely funny game. The voice samples are superb, and the humour is very clever – even though it is at its core a kiddies game. 

All of the old Warner Bros characters are involved, so you can ‘be’ Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Yosamite Sam, Bugs Bunny and Wil E. Coyote as you speed around the futuristic tracks on your stylized ACME rocket bike. Weapons play a major part in LTSR and the same love has been lavished upon them as the rest of the game, so not only do you get the bog standard homing missiles and lasers, but you can drop elephants, pianos and anvils on foes’ heads, zap them with lightening from their own personal storm cloud, or boff them in the kisser with a comedy boxing glove on a spring. Superb stuff. Gets a bit easy once you get the hang of the boost system, but LOOK AT THE FUCKING GRAPHICS! Astounding stuff. 9/10

Bust A Move 4

Fire different coloured balls up the screen. Get 3 together and they pop. If your screen fills up, it’s “GAME OVER MAN!” Cough. It’s a very simple game, with very simple graphics, but it still kicks 28 tonnes of ASS in multiplayer. Not the game to rival Chu Chu Rocket (what can?), but top fun nonetheless. The single player ‘story’ is unnecessary, as are the vomit-inducingly twee characters (please God, no more vomit), but Bust A Move 4 is a pleasant little puzzle game. And I don’t think there’s much point putting anything else. So I won’t. 6/10

Silent Scope

Oh to be a police sniper. The fame, the money, the women. Well now you can have it all! That’s right – just whack a copy of Silent Scope into your Dreamcast, and your life will be transformed! No longer will you have ‘kick me’ sellotaped to your back; or have to give the school bully your dinner money! No – you can pop a cap in his fat face from seven miles away! Well, that’s what it says in the manual anyway. Silent Scope, then. Have you seen that cool-as-fuck looking arcade machine with the big rifle and scope on it? That’s Silent Scope, that is! And here’s the Dreamcast conversion – in all it’s arcade perfect glory. It would’ve been better if they’d packaged a sniper rifle peripheral with it, but I’m pretty certain – no I AM certain – it’d never work. Basically, it’s an on-rails shoot ‘em up, but instead of using a lightgun (which could’ve worked, maybe), you have a little curser that you move around. Press the button and it zooms in, sniper style. Leaving you free to fill any passing terrorist or ne’er do well with hot lead. It’s quite good fun in small blasts, but the longevity is tainted by the fact that it’s just an arcade game. That you’re only meant to play for about 5 minutes in a bowling alley whilst you wait for your lane to free up. And at that it excels, but Silent Scope is about as deep as a supermodel’s belly button, so you’ll get bored very quickly. Like I did. And go and make a cup of tea, or a Cuppa Soup depending on your preference. 5/10

Note 2: neither of these screenshots is from the DC version. But fuck it.

On a different note, I saw a film called Kung Fu Hustle yesterday. If you haven’t seen it, go now and get it. They’ve got it in Tesco for 3 quid. It’s a ridiculous martial arts ‘comedy’ (that isn’t remotely funny), but the fight scenes are amazing. Nothing to do with the Dreamcast, I know – but just thought I’d mention it.

Also, who can beat this: whilst trying to post this update, I was confronted with the message "Safari can't connect to the server..." about 500 times. This resulted in me nearly putting my fist through a router and my laptop's moniter. Can you beat that? Entries on a postcard!