Written by Games of DAYNE | Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Taking to the skies as a fighter pilot in the arcade biplane shooter, Red Wings: American Aces, is a satisfyingly simple and enjoyable affair that integrates objective based missions, engaging aerial dogfights and a 30+ mission campaign. A striking comic-book inspired art design and an upbeat, funky and energetic score keeps the fast-paced action light.
The campaign can be enjoyed solo or co-operatively with a second local player and a trio of battle modes are available for two players to compete against each other while online functionality brings the action to players in up to 10 player battles in three solo and three team-based game modes.
With a fun skill tree to experiment with, new planes to unlock and an assortment of skins for them locked behind challenges, Red Wings: American Aces is a playful aerial shooter that keeps things, simple, accessible and enjoyable.
Red Wings: American Aces is a spin-off of 2020’s Red Wings: Aces of the Sky, with both games sharing a near identical visual presentation and gameplay mechanics. American Aces feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch with its simplistic controls, cartoonish, comic presentation and short missions that accommodate even the briefest of gameplay sessions. A well executed tutorial explains all of the gameplay mechanics with simple, easy to understand instructions and exercises.
The gameplay relies primarily on taking down enemy fighters by shooting them down, with or without zooming in or locking on to targets. Four special commands are available that each require varying lengths of cooldowns before they can be reused.
- Barrel Roll – an evasive manoeuvre that can be executed to avoid the enemies line of fire, as well as being an offensive tool that can eliminate an enemy target with contact
- Quick Comeback – a u-turn manoeuvre that lets the player turn instantly with an overhead or downward action that can put you hot on the heels of the plane that just zoomed past
- Squadron – an enemy can be locked on to and a powerful ally is spawned in to engage the target
- Fatal Takedown – when an enemy is injured, by lowering their health bar to a specific level, an execution can be performed that sees the player pull off a cinematic pistol kill at an impressive distance
Each of these four skills can be upgraded to reduce their cooldowns, enhance their effectiveness or provide other perks such as increasing the number of planes summoned with the Squadron command from one to five for example. Alongside these twelve upgrades are eighteen more than provide passive perks to weapon overheat reduction, critical hit chance and damage increases for instance. These skills are all upgraded by spending gold stars which are awarded during missions, with up to three gold stars awarded for meeting completion time or score requirements.
Mission variety is just broad enough to keep things fresh with objectives ranging from simply eliminating X amount of enemies, defending or destroying observation balloons or flying through fuel supply rings in non-combat scenarios to name a few. With each mission taking mere minutes to complete this variety is welcome and helps ensure that even a short play session is comprised of an assortment of objectives throughout the campaign.
Environmental elements such as electrical storms, sandstorms and clouds can impair the player’s view, reduce their skill charges and inflict damage, adding exciting elements of drama to the missions.
Charming cartoonish visuals and the energetic soundtrack that keeps the action upbeat at all times are both well implemented. By avoiding a more typical 3D or photorealistic approach American Aces feels lighter in tone and that compliments the gameplay wonderfully. The sound design is sharp and consistent with the chaos that ensues these dogfights and lends to an overall essentially flawless audio-visual presentation.
Red Wings: American Aces is a brief but accessible aerial shooter that is enjoyable in its simplicity and offers enough mission variety, co-operative, competitive and solo game modes to satisfy the casual gamers. Players looking for a bit more depth or replayability will come away wanting but the fast paced gameplay itself can’t be ignored, resulting in a fun shooter that keeps things simple in every aspect.
+ Charming visuals
+ Enjoyable, simplistic gameplay
+ Mission variety and assortment of game modes
– Lacks replayability for players expecting depth
– Brief campaign
Developed & Published by: All In! Games
Release Date: March 31 2022
Platforms: Nintendo Switch and PC
* A digital code was kindly provided to Games of DAYNE for the purpose of this review *
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