Solomon's Key for the NES was released in Japan on this day in 1986.

B-17: Fortress in the Sky (Nintendo DS)

32
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Big John WV (25282)
Written on  :  Jan 21, 2009
Rating  :  3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars

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Summary

Yeah, it's a budget game...but don't judge it because of that.

The Good

When I first caught sight of this game I was a bit curious, I was looking for a cheap game for my newly bought Nintendo DS and after experiencing the Liberator stage on Call of Duty 2, I snatched it up for the simple concept of the game of bombing (also including the fact it was less than $10.) When I popped in the game I was pleasantly surprised.

First off the graphics aren't that bad, the airplanes are nicely modeled, from what you can see of them before they zip by and the areas on the B-17 are actually pretty detailed. You can even notice your propellers getting slower and slower with the more hits you take from enemy fighters. The graphics of the overhead bombing run are decent, nothing to spectacular though, but its adequate.

The sounds are nice too, including the planes zipping by with the sound of authentic airplane engines including the whine of the engine when you down one. The dropping of the bombs sound real too, though the machine gun can get annoying at times, not from the firing of it but the sound of the shell casings hitting the floor with a constant, "plink" "plink" "plink" "plink"...you get the idea.

The bombing run is very fun too, though at first it takes a little getting used to since you have to lower the plane manually to line up for targets, but once you get used to it you won't even notice. The one thing that may bother someone, though, is the fact that they don't show your target objective anywhere, you have to remember what the target looks like from the briefing. This may annoy some people, but they are at the end of the run and they stick out from the rest of the ground below so it really isn't that much of an issue.

The Bad

Well there are some bad things about this, but that would be expected with the he first being the flak segment. In between the shooting of the enemy fighters and the bombing run there is a segment where you have to avoid enemy flak guns from hurting your bomber, but the problem is there is no rhyme or reason to it. I have tried zigging and zagging, going straight ahead, moving left to right erratically, but no matter what I do, I still get hit. It seems like it is a mandatory cheap hit and it would have been nice to have some warning system instead of being constantly frustrated into thinking you can avoid getting hit every time you play.

One thing I did notice is the "Auto Tracking" of the fighters that the game has. Now at first I didn't think it was working, I kept firing at the enemy fighters, but couldn't tell if I was hitting them, it would have been nice to have a zoom instead of firing at a dot in the distance and it doesn't help that you can't really hit them until they are up close-up, but by that time you have taken damage from them. But after some experimenting, you have to stop moving anything and after a while you get whisked to the nearest fighter, but by that time they are almost on top of you. It just seems like it shouldn't have been included since it's not entirely helpful.

Another thing I wish would have been addressed also deals with shooting the fighters down. You do get hints from your teammates of where enemy fighters are coming from such as 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock low, 6 o'clock high, etc., but the problem is the view you have of your plane on the bottom screen is a dissected side of your plane. This gets confusing since you have eight different gunners positions and there is no way of telling where the o'clock positions are, now granted the 12 and 6 are granted, but otherwise it just seems like you have to constantly switch between views. It would have been nice to have an overview of the plane from above instead which would have been much more clearer of the positions of the enemy planes.

The final thing is that it is very, very repetitive. Actually, there is a set pattern and it follows it to a tee, expect for the length of some of the stages. You start by taking off and seeing your objectives, then you go to shooting down enemy fighters, next is the flak stage, back to fighters, bombing run, enemy fighters and finally home. Yeah, it does this over and over for 25 stages and does get a little boring at times.

The Bottom Line

In the end, it seems wrong to judge this as a bad game just because of its budget title company and comparing it to other DS games on the market. To me I judge this game for exactly was it is, a cheap budget title that delivers what it sells: bombing and shooting. Now true it is very repetitive and only fun in short bursts, but other than that it is a pretty decent game.

If you ever get the chance to play this title, give it a shot, don't cringe from the budget look, hell there are worst games out there that cost way more than this game (the most I have seen is $14.99, mine was around $9.00) and shouldn't have even been made at all (like Mercenaries 2 for PS2, The Incredible Hulk for PS2, Iron Man for PS2, the new Godzilla games...I can go on and on).