Sunday, September 20, 2009

Battle Ace

Hudson Soft
HuCard (SuperGrafx)

Every console should be allowed a few duds. Of course, given only five titles to claim as its own, the SuperGrafx stood a better chance of hosting a library of perfection than most other systems. Indeed, after the first four SGX exclusives I'd played ranged from pretty good to phenomenal with nary a clunker in sight, a five-for-five showing seemed a realistic possibility. But then Battle Ace came along and annihilated that prospect.

BA is quite reminiscent of After Burner II (which I am admittedly not a big fan of) with its straightforward, repetitious shoot-the-enemies, dodge-the-missiles gameplay. But AB2 features a superior score and plays faster (and better if, like me, you prefer a behind-the-jet view to this inside-the-cockpit stuff).

Hudson Soft did try to set Battle Ace apart from After Burner by incorporating elements they undoubtedly believed would lend some variety to the experience. Bosses confront you at the conclusion of each act, but they're all easy to beat, and most are quite boring in design.

And "environmental factors" such as ice crystals, lightning bolts, asteroids, and flame geysers must be taken into consideration here, but they're usually not incorporated into the waves-of-enemies action; instead, the stretches hosting them act as simple breaks from the blasting and merely force you to do some back-and-forth maneuvering. Frankly, I derive more enjoyment from AB2's unspectacular bonus rounds.

If you want a pick-up-and-play title in this vein, hunt down After Burner II. If you'd like something similar to AB2 but with bosses and greater depth, you'd do well to acquire Spiral Wave. Hell, I'd rather play Starfox or fucking Stealth ATF than make another run through boring Battle Ace.

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