Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Flying around Western Europe doesn't sound very dangerous, but when you’ve been warped back into history and it's the 1940s, you’ll probably find that a few thousand Germans are out to turn your fighter bomber into flaming wreckage.
Like the fool you are, you "volunteered" to take part in several missions instrumental to Allied victory in the Second World War. You still hear the voice of your CO. Colonel Stratford, ringing in your ears. "You have volunteered," he said gruffly, "to take on a flying mission that, until now, you knew nothing about. That, my friend, is the kind of selfless bravery that makes great pilots."
It’s also the kind of selfless bravery that keeps the likes of Colonel Stratford several hundred miles away from the action.
Now it’s just you and your Hobson FB-61 "Grim Reaper" fighter bomber. The four missions are pretty simple. Just destroy some munitions trains travelling through Munich, a bunch of namby pamby V-1 "Buzz Bombs" darkening the skies of southern Paris, JU-88 bombers to the east or the U-Boats hanging out in the North Atlantic.
Simple eh? Just remember that the Luftwaffe don’t take kindly to our Tommy heroes infiltrating their airspace...
Before each mission begins, Colonel Stratford arrives to give you an intelligence report on what faces you on your chosen caper. Details included are information on what the enemy have got waiting for you and weather conditions, along with specific information on your objective. This is also the last chance you'll get for backing out of the mission.
Button B combined with down on the joypad takes the player to the bomb bay screen. Here the bay doors can be opened and the target can be bombed. This is also the place to change the main weapon between the main guns and rockets.
During the game, different instruments can be viewed and used by switching between views. The B button combined with a direction gives the player a different view of the proceedings. Changing the engine speed, lowering the landing gear and adjusting the flaps are just some of the options open when you've chosen another view. Actually piloting the plane can only be done on the front view screen.
The map shows all information relevant to your mission, and includes the likes of enemy 'planes and your actual target. The map can be summoned during the game, so there's no worry of losing your target.
Oo-er! A flight sim on the Sega. How interesting. Well, it would be if it was any good, but unfortunately Ace of Aces is a sad shambling parody of a flight sim. It's nothing to do with the depth of the simulation. There's quite a lot to do, and plenty of things to blow up, but this is all overshadowed by the truly awful in-game graphics. Featuring very bizarre grey clouds (portrayed in appalling Jerk-O-Vision) the game is graphically tedious and the slow response time makes taking out any ME-109S you may chance across a very laborious task. The control method for accessing all of the instruments is quite nicely done, but in the heat of battle it's very fiddly and serves just to annoy. The sound is laughable, with a single-note engine and simple shooting noise effects. Even if you're incredibly desperate for a flight sim for the Sega, avoid this seriously lacking game at all costs!
Ace of Aces wasn't a particularly awe-inspiring game when it first appeared on the C64 five years ago, and this Sega version is nowhere near as good as the original! Poor-quality, fuzzy graphics and amazingly naff sounds are the nails in the coffin, and the tediously slow gameplay hammers them well and truly home. There's no feeling of excitement - the missions are all pretty dull and unchallenging - and the sluggish and fiddly control method serves to make play irritating and annoying. Ace of Aces could have been a great Sega flight sim. It's a shame it fails dismally to live up to its potential...