Top Gun (NES)

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Written by  :  D Michael (232)
Written on  :  Feb 15, 2007
Rating  :  1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars

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A flight game with no flight model!

The Good

Top Gun was one of the only flight games available for the NES at the time of its release. Because of this, and my desire to play some kind of flight themed game that contained a cockpit view, I happened upon Top Gun.

I appreciated the cockpit view, along with the landing and take-off sequences. There is actually a level of skill required for landing that takes quick yet steady reflexes to accomplish effectively. A feature that console flight games generally lacked during this time.

Furthermore, you have two types of weapons; missiles and the cannon, but we'd expect that. It was fun to mix up the attack a bit, fire a missile or two and then lay on the gun.

When flying above the clouds the view is a bit hazy, which adds a tad bit of realism making one feel that they are really way up in the air.

Honestly, I can't think of any other positive thing to say about this game.

The Bad

The way I see it, there are two types of flight games. One is the simulator, the other is of the arcade style. Top Gun is the exception in that it doesn't even come close to resembling either of these, rather it fails at delivering either experience.

The game is as unrealistic as the movie is, which may not bother some but I'd venture to say that if we're going to throw realism out the window, we should at least be treated to arcade style action. We aren't.

My biggest complaint about this game is that there is absolutely no flight model. You cannot perform a barrel roll, a loop, or any other kind of acrobatic maneuver. As a matter of fact, your movement is so restricted that you are only limited to very gentle climbs and dives, and some insignificant left and right turning (or banking). You cannot change direction, and what's worse is that you can clearly tell after playing this game only once, that moving the plane around is nothing more than viewing a different part of a much larger screen. That's right, the only thing that changes is the viewable area of the screen when moving around. For example, take a roll of paper towels, and sit about 5 feet away from your television. Look through the center piece at the TV, and you'll only see a small section. Move it around, and that is what maneuvering in Top Gun is like. Problem is, the viewable area is only a couple of inches larger than the screen itself. Want to crash into the ground? Forget it, you're not allowed below a certain altitude. You really are that restricted. Truly awful design.

The music is repetitive and annoying. It's a very short piece that loops and drives you mad. You can't get it out of your head after playing either, like a bad, yet catchy song you hear on the radio that makes you regret having ever tuned in on the day you heard it.

You may select from three different missile types, hound, wolf, and tiger, each more powerful than the last. The stronger the missile, the less you can carry. Choose the largest and most powerful missile and you can carry 10 of them, the least powerful and you can carry 40 (very unrealistic in both cases). The problem is that missile effectiveness is really only noticeable on hard targets present at the end of each mission which is involves about 1% (or less) of total gameplay time. This means that weapon selection is largely irrelevant and the only real choice is to choose the option that allows you to carry 40 missiles so you can have plenty of ammunition for the trip to said hard target.

The only redeeming value to the game is the landing sequence. You come in for a landing and must make minor adjustments to make it safely onto the carrier. Problem is, once you get close to landing, the view switches to a side view animation showing your aircraft either A. landing on the carrier or B. crashing. During this animation you have no control at all, so bringing the plane to a halt or making adjustments after you're on the flight deck is not an option.

The Bottom Line

To me there is no side of the flight genre that can make any viable argument for this game. Top Gun can't be considered a simulation due to its blatant disregard for physics and complete lack of a flight model, and can't be considered an arcade style game because the action is slow, boring, restricted, and just downright unexciting. But hey, I guess the designers figured that if the movie can be such a huge success without substance why should the game have to be any different?