It’s time to go back in time a little bit, as Aces of the Luftwaffe transports you back to World War II. You control a squadron of four elite fighter pilots, as at the end of the war, a secret group of German fighters emerges and sets its sights on invading the US. As Mark, Melissa, John and Steve (yes you control all four if you play solo), you must chase down the titular gang squadron and return peace to the nation.
Not only does the game’s story bring you back in time, the game itself does as well with its shoot-em-up, vertical scrolling format. Enemies will be highly populating your screen from every single direction. The action in every single level is non-stop as you’ll be dodging enemy shots, missiles and lasers, and slinging your own right back at them.
Each mission takes you step by step through the story, and they all come with their own side mission goals as well. Both of these can be tracked in the upper left corner of the screen, where a gold bar with a plane will show your overall progress through the level, and right underneath it your side mission will be tracked. The side missions are always completely optional, but will definitely build up quite an extra challenge while playing the game.
If you’re playing solo, controlling the whole squad is easy. You directly control one fighter and the others follow right along with you. If you’re firing, they are as well, and the life counter you’re given per level only applies to you. So if a teammate gets knocked out of a fight, they will respawn after a little while. Each one also has a weakness that you’ll have to combat as well. Melissa is afraid of heights, so whenever you lift up higher in the sky she throws deuces to the wind, while Johnny can go into full-blown rage mode and careen all over the sky, shooting you up in a big explosion if you make any contact with him in this state.
Aces‘ cartoony graphics style is a lot of fun to play with. Nothing looks super realistic, but it’s not blocky and choppy either, and there are so many colors in every single level it’s just beautiful. My personal favorite thing about this game is that the screen “cracks” when you take too much damage. It’s a great way to showcase that you’ve been hit in the game, while still not sacrificing the top-down perspective at all. And to top everything off, the orchestrated soundtrack is incredible and really meshes well with the game overall.
While the story is on the short side, spread out over five chapters with five levels each, the depth for the characters is what really makes this game feel bigger. Each of your pilots has their own specific skill tree, giving them boosts to weapon upgrades, health, special abilities, and anything else that will help you in fighting off the Germans.
Aces of the Luftwaffe : Squadron is a ton of fun through and through. The short and sweet level design will have you replaying each of these missions over and over again. You can play by yourself and singlehandedly save the country, or with up to four players (with two sets of separated joy-cons). No matter how you play it though, this game is a lot of fun so fly over to the eShop and grab your copy now!
Docked – Good
Handheld – Great
Joy con detached – Good (but slightly awkward if you play handheld first)
Joy con controller – Great
Pro Controller – Don’t personally own one
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