Developed By: Infinite State Games
Published By: Curve Digital
Category: Action, Arcade
Release Date: 4.12.18
From Infinite State Games comes high-flying 2D arcade shooter Rogue Aces for Nintendo Switch. This game is a non-stop barrage of bullets, bombs, and big explosions. It’s a heck of a lot of fun to play with lots of new modes to unlock, but some of the gameplay elements are cumbersome at times.
Rogue Aces is, at its core, an aerial combat game. The player controls a World War II inspired fighter plane in combat missions ranging from dogfights to bombing runs. The flight mechanics themselves are solid and the dogfights are particularly fun and fast-paced. Looping around chasing enemy fighters is a blast and is probably the simplest part of the game; just lay on the trigger and keep the bad guys on the screen and you’ll be OK. The flight mechanics are fun, for the most part, but sometimes (especially near the ground) the turn radius is a bit loose.
There are multiple weapons you can use; machine guns, rockets, and bombs. Rockets fire straight ahead and are most useful against other airborne enemies whereas bombs drop in an arc and are most useful against ground-based targets. You have a finite number of bombs and rockets, but the machine guns have unlimited ammo. Ammo can be replenished by landing on your aircraft carrier or at bases you capture after bombing their defenders into submission. Accomplishing tasks within the normal campaign unlocks new modes of play including an island-hopping frontline campaign mode and survival mode.
The basics of the game are explained in a short tutorial the first time the game boots up before you get to the main menu. It explains the basics of flying, landing, and shooting the machine guns, but little else. The tutorial doesn’t mention that you have rockets or bombs at all (or that the A button is the eject button. Found that one out the inconvenient way). There are tutorials on both of those actions, but you have to find them yourself in the menu; the icons just appear on the display without warning or explanation if you don’t look them up. It only takes a few seconds of playing around with the controls to figure them out, but it’s a little jarring to not have them explained.
Different modes have different rules, as you may have guessed on your own, and that isn’t always for the best. For example, in the normal campaign, taking off at the beginning of the mission just means pressing B and takeoff occurs automatically. In the frontline campaign mode, you have to use the thumbsticks to rev the engines and move forward. This change is not explained, and it took me a few minutes to figure out why pressing B wasn’t causing me to take off. It was very frustrating to have a basic control mechanic changed with no warning or explanation. Another important difference is the presence of additional planes. In the normal campaign, your ship has three planes; when one is shot down, your pilot switches to the next plane. It’s essentially like having three lives. In frontline mode, there’s only one plane, so after getting shot down you’ve got to wade through the island select screen again before getting back to the action. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but it was annoying.
Rogue Aces has a very slick and colorful 16-bit aesthetic which I really liked. The game would look right at home on an SNES. The bright color palette and smooth animations make for a very good-looking game overall. It looks best in undocked mode; the graphics looked a little stretched-out and pixelated on a TV in a bad, low-def kind of way, not the good way where it’s just pixel-based art but still clean. Still, the graphics were detailed and attractive overall.
The game’s music was not especially memorable – just a few catchy tunes to shoot down bogeys to. There is some voice acting in the game as well, mostly at the beginning and end of missions. Your commanding officer will send you on missions or deliver a snarky comment when you get shot down or fail a mission. He has some nice things to say if you can complete a mission, but even then I feel like he was making fun of me. Maybe it was just the British accent. Still, the lines were clever and the actor did a great job delivering the material, and his presence brought a welcome sense of amusement even in failure. Plus he seemed to like the male pilot’s mustache; gotta love a man who appreciates a good ‘stache.
Also released for the PS4 and Vita, Rogue Aces for the Nintendo Switch doesn’t really integrate any touch or motion controls. You can play with either a Joycon or a Pro controller, whichever you prefer. I played the game mostly in undocked mode because I think the game just looks better on a smaller screen, but it doesn’t make any difference in terms of the game experience.
TL;DR: Fun and colorful, but some annoying hiccups across the different campaign modes.