Friday, December 10, 2010

AA Look - Air Duel

In the year 2004 a mad mother computer known as "Enemy Chief" gained control of an army vast enough to destroy the world. It was in these dark times that two heroes arrived to save the day. Though their rickety ships were frail and their limited arsenal was pathetic they had courage and skill which is more than enough to cover for any weakness. This is just one of many entries Irem has made in the 2D shooter genre.

Every 2D shooter needs a hook or a gimmick to draw the player in. It could be anything from the concept to some unique power-up and sometimes it doesn't have to mean anything at all. It was a sign of the times back then since arcades were filled with so many similar games all looking to attract quarters from somebody. Air Duel allows the player to use a regular ship that fires peas in a straightforward fashion or a helicopter that can turn slightly to fire peas at an angle. That's the extent of it really. Sometimes one ship is more effective than the other and at other times more power in the firepower is better than more firepower. It's an interesting relationship and the player can swap vehicles at the beginning of each stage if they feel the need.

Yes these peas are not of the literal sense but that's probably because actual peas would be more effective. All that pea juice could seep into the engines of enemy aircraft and cause them to explode. Instead I am referring to the "pea-shooter" trope. These days everyone plays those crazy games by Cave where the default weapon is hyper-mega-beam so the pea-shooter has long been forgotten. Air Duel makes the pea-shooter into something of an artform by essentially making it the only weapon the player can rely on. Sure there are bombs and while they're great for damage and clearing enemy-fire they're also limited. Fact of the matter is in order to survive Air Duel the player has to deal with their firepower having pitiful range. As a bonus a single-death will send the player's weapon levels back to 0 which just makes everything harder.

Some of us got out of the old-school for a reason and Air Duel is a clear example. It's the kind of rough & nasty game where the insurmountable odds just aren't enough and an extra layer of pain is necessary to get the maximum effect. There's no fancy tricks that'll summon fairies who hand out gold coins and bullets travel at a speed that actually makes sense. You play a shooter like this because you're tired of fighting huge battleships that for whatever reason were built to do nothing but fire thousands of pink bullets that don't go anywhere. You're also probably sick of little girls yelling "POWAH UPPOOO" and that's completely understandable. Sometimes I like to play a game where I don't start yelling "NO! My medal-chain!" and the screen doesn't look like Willy Wonka threw up on it. Air Duel is basic, bland, and would probably win an award so nondescript nobody has any idea what it's for. But y'know that can be pretty alright sometimes.

Game Rating - 3 out of 5 stars
My Rating - 2.5 out of 5 stars

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