Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Title: Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron
Developer: HandyGames
Publisher: HandyGames
Website: handy-games.com
Genre: Action & Shooter
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Audience: E for Everyone
Release Date: 17/11/2017
Price: £13.49 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

What the Developers say

Every end is a new beginning! When Europe seemed to be freed, a secret German squadron called The Aces of the Luftwaffe took their chance to strike back and invade the USA!


It’s your duty to restore peace and liberty by climbing aboard deadly wings of steel and fighting against their fearsome war machines in bombastic air battles! Experience an epic storyline and survive the bullet hail above US coasts and cities! Command your wingmen, fight as a team, fight as a squadron!

Introduction

Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron, from developer HandyGames, is a vertically-scrolling shoot ‘em up title where you are in control of a squadron and must take down enemy planes. During your adventure, you’ll be flying over a wide range of environments, including forests, cities, canyons, and more. The screen will become hectic with enemy planes and bullets trying to take you down and can be overwhelming with colorful backgrounds and explosions. Although the colors can slightly blend in, everything that you must shoot does have a black outline which does make the process of eliminating enemies much easier. 

Gameplay and Replayability

When you destroy an enemy plane it gets set alight and spirals out of control. Visually, this looks great, but with some much happening on-screen it can be hard to tell if you need to continue shooting or not, especially as sometimes no sound effect is heard. You do certainly get used to how many bullets it takes for one to go down though, which does eliminate the issue. 

As you would expect from a shooter like this, you will be weaving in and out of enemy fire quite frequently. The problem is that in a somewhat small selection of levels, the enemy’s firing patterns don’t give you a chance to move out of the way and you will take damage. As stated before though, this doesn’t happen on too many levels and it is usually your fault if you do get hit in large part to how the plane’s movement handles. 

Thankfully, the bosses have a completely different feel and you always get a chance to dodge. Learning their attack patterns are vital and they really are the stars of Aces of the Luftwaffe. Not only because of their well-detailed mechanical looking designs, but also because like all amazing boss battles they do have different stages or forms/attacks. They really are all unique from one another and are enjoyable to learn how to defeat. You also get some mini-boss battles in other stages, which are just as fun and engaging. 

Each stage comes with a secondary objective for you to complete. These range from possibly needing to destroy a certain amount of enemies, rescue civilians, or drop-off supply drops. These do play out the same way though, as you must hover over them for a brief time in order to accomplish the task. There are also some side missions where you must stay out of spotlights, adding a new wrinkle to the gameplay. These side missions do prevent each mission from becoming too repetitive which is appreciated. 

Looks and Sounds

Aces of the Luftwaffe has a wonderfully charming and unique aesthetic to its graphics. It’s odd to find some of the jets to be cute, but that’s how some of the designs makes me feel. Animation is also to a high standard throughout, planes barrel roll to avoid bullets, humongous flying metal eagles flap with gusto and giant zeppelins gracefully explode as they descend to the ground below. Music is also handled admirably, with sound effects that pop and an orchestral soundtrack that goes well with the overall theme of the game. 

The story is presented mainly though radio talk between you, your squadron, and the commander, and also include incredibly short animations after you complete each chapter. I did find the four pilots dialogue to not be all that interesting, but luckily you can skip the chatter by holding down the A button which is very welcome, especially on second playthroughs as these chunks of radio talk can be somewhat long.

Where I find that each character is engaging are how they express their weaknesses, as it adds another gameplay element. One pilot may start out sick in a level, which requires you to move the squadron slowly otherwise you will start taking damage. Another may have a pilot enter rage mode and you don’t want to get in the way when this happens as he will instantly take one of your lives. I also had a pilot fall asleep while flying and when this happens you must defend them. These really do add another layer of intensity, and luckily they don’t happen too often. 

Enemy planes do drop medals which you will want to collect in order to level up. Surprisingly, Aces of the Luftwaffe does include quite an extensive upgrade system with leveling up rewarding you with tokens which can be spent on new abilities. Some of these abilities are incredibly useful as well, as they may enable a whole new attack such as a bomb that obliterates everything on-scree. You can even get a supply drop, which gives you a weapon powerup. 

Not only can you unlock new abilities for your pilot, you can also use your tokens on your teammates. There really is a balancing act when distributing points and finding the best combination of upgrades can help with some of the bosses. Some of the upgrades are locked until you complete a chapter, so it does somewhat limit the customization process, as you will most likely have all of that chapters upgrade by the end it. 

You can even change each pilots plane and each type of plane comes with its now abilities, such as movement speed. New ones are unlocked for beating a main boss at the end of each chapter and the difficulty level you are playing on does change what types of planes you unlock as well. This gives you an incentive to beat them again on different difficulties in order to unlock everything Aces of the Luftwaffe has to offer. 

There are three difficulty modes you can play on: Normal, Hard and Extreme. You must first complete a level on Normal or Hard to unlock the Extreme mode and I found this difficulty to be much too ridiculous to truly enjoy. Aces of the Luftwaffe can be played with up to four players, but for the multiplayer side it is couch co-op only and there is no online. When playing with friends the enemy difficulty is increased slightly, but in my opinion not nearly enough. Some levels that I found hard when playing solo were completely a breeze when playing with a friend.

Conclusion

Overall, Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron is purely a game for anyone who enjoys shoot ‘em ups or shooters in general and has solid gameplay mechanics with a good amount of content. If you are not a fan of this genre or are more of a casual shooter though, there isn’t enough that is different to most likely change your mind. However, if you do like these hectic dodging experiences, you’ll likely have a great time, especially with the in-depth upgrade system.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

You can purchase Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron on the Nintendo eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Aces-of-the-Luftwaffe-Squadron-1304348.html

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