Reviewed in 2013 by Tibe

TOP GUN II, FEAT. SEAN CONNERY!

by Tibe

Click here to read in english

When I was a kid, there was in my city a gaming room which name was 'The JR's'... This was a bit 'Ze place to be' every saturday afternoon. Once there, you met kids of all ages, some older pinball players, and also some ancestral geeks aged twenty-five, thirty years or more. I am telling you this because the first time I played Capcom's Carrier Airwing, it was there. And the least we can say is that the boss had good taste for choosing its cabinets: Street Fighter II Champion Edition, Gauntlet, Hang-On, F-1 Dream, World Heroes, Final Fight, King of Dragons, Art of Fighting, Arkanoid... and so on. And among this plethora of legendary games was indeed Carrier Airwing. I admit to have swallowed a pretty good amount of 'gettones' (JR's tokens) for it, and as we will discover in the following lines, it was good stuff!

You have to take the city back by force.
You have to take the city back by force.

The presentation of the game immediately have you want to play: we can see a close-up of a F-14  taking off, followed by portraits of the game's heroes, coming straight out of Top Gun (with Tom Cruise, the scientologist). Once the gettone introduced and the start pressed, we access the plane selection among three proposed: F-14 Tomcat, F-18 Hornet, or A-6 Intruder. In fact, nobody has ever noticed any difference between these machines: same speed, same resistance to damages, identical weapons. In sum, it was neither more nor less than an aesthetic choice... humpf. Then, you arrive at the briefing on the aircraft carrier with Sean Connery. The brave explains us that we, as Americans, we are here to blow up the mouth of villains. Yeah because we, the Americans, we're always the good when it comes to war, I know for sure because I saw this in American movies, for the villains are always Russians or Arabs.

Watch the fuel gauge and refuel each time it's possible ...
Watch the fuel gauge and refuel each time it's possible ...

Carrier Airwing is a quite difficult challenge, but well-balanced and fair enough: it goes crescendo over the ten stages of the game, and the room for improvement is good. With practice, any player can reach the fourth or fifth levels with a single credit. Here, there is no checkpoints or multiple lives: your device has an energy/fuel gauge that is consumed over time, and of course in case of bullets or shock received. Don't panic, you will find on your way oval capsules restoring energy. The controls are responsive and the gameplay is simple:  a shoot button, another one for the secondary weapon. This can be purchased between missions, depending on the dollars gained during the combat. Shields and additional endurance gauges can also equip your plane. About the main weapon, three different shots are available in the capsules you recover all along the game: yellow ones provide a wide shot wide but with a poor rate, the blue have a more concentrated fire but powerful, and green weapon have a medium diameter range and an average firepower.

This battleship won't last for long with your napalm bombs!
This battleship won't last for long with your napalm bombs!

In 1990, this production signed Capcom is one of the most beautiful games of its kind, and is still nowadays very pleasing to the eye: numerous well-chosen colors, exotic backgrounds and varied impressive Bosses (sometimes measuring several screens long )... Sometimes we cross a megacity, sometimes we fly over the ocean in pursuit of a huge battleship; infiltrating underground secret bases or dealing with a nuclear submarine in the ice... Retinas are flattered, in any case more than our ears. And yes, dear friends, once will not hurt with the CPS, the sound quality is just average. There's only a few good themes amidst a bunch of bland ones, fortunately enhanced by good quality sound effects. The animation is simple but flawless, with a good pace of play, small effects here and there and sometimes intense action. There just a few blinks and rare slowdowns with two simultaneous players, but this is pretty negligible. The adventure is beautiful and tempting for those who love Shoot them Up, and in this category, Carrier Airwing remains one of the best representatives of its generation.


GRAPHICS

91%

Capcom provides here a high-quality graphic set for a 1990 game: varied, colorful, with fine, beautiful drawings. Only flaw, the enemy vehicles are not diverse enough.
ANIMATION 87%
Without being extremely smooth, Carrier Airwing's animation is fast, well-made, and rich with small details. There's a few, rare blinks and slowdowns.
SOUND 70%
CPS is not Neo Geo, and the sound quality is clearly not worth the graphics. Anyway, some themes are good enough, and effects are well chosen.
REPLAY VALUE 89%
Ten stages for a life lasting about an hour for a straight play: great! Plus, the game is difficult enough to hold in suspense any shmup fever and plays two simultaneously.
GAMEPLAY 85%
Gameplay is speed and even features some tactics, with the weapon-buying system and the money to win during missions.

NEOGEOKULT

RATE

86%
Carrier Airwing experienced a nice success when it was released in the arcades, and it's understandable: it's a Shoot them Up full of qualities packing a top-notch realization.

SAME ON NEO GEO?

Only Ghost Pilots has an atmosphere looking a little like Carrier Airwing's one, although we're still far away from Top Gun's universe, plus the fact it is a vertical scrolling game. Horizontal shmups side, nothing looking like CA on SNK's system... Move along, there's nothing to see!

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