Publisher: Hal
Genre: Space Shooter
Year of Release: 1989 (I think)

Date Reviewed: 1-17-98 ("Old Era")

This particular game will always hold a special place in my heart, in that it was the first game I played at the 1990 Nintendo Power Fest (when it came to Chicago.) It centers around nine fortresses in space, which were established by some alien power. These fortresses are apparently looming over the safety of the planet Farmel by allowing a dispassionate alien force to establish a monopoly of some kind. Anyway, in order to combat the threat, a man named Hal (presumably after the company that produced the game) sets out to destroy each of the fortresses. That is about all there is to the story, and it is never referred to in the game. The bulk of Air Fortress is in the action.

At face value, this game seems somewhat interesting. After all, it does perpetuate one of the more present gestapoes in the 8-bit genre -- it combines two interfaces. That much of the game is interesting. Each stage is divided into two parts. One is a side-scrolling, Gradius-style stage, designed for the player to become acquainted with the controls and gather resources (bombs, energy reserves) for the actual fortress. After that, the hero enters into the fortress itself (which is set up in a Metroid-like style), in search of the fortress' "nucleus" (a giant organism that gives power to the fortress). After destroying the nucleus, the player must escape from the crumbling fortress.

Air Fortress seems to be an appealing game at first. However, after completing the first two levels, one quickly realizes that this game is self-emulating. All of the levels in the game are basically the same. The fortresses are structured somewhat differently from one another, but the process of navigating throughout them is always the same. The enemies are the same -- most of them modeled after common prototypes. In addition, the graphics seem deliberately underdone. They are not necessarily "bad". They're just too basic.

In short, Air Fortress is a good game, but there is nothing in it that cannot be found elsewhere.

My Score: 6

The nomadic flying-eye-things have been known to migrate in packs.

The game did do an excellent job with the effects of a gravityless situation on physics (shooting propels you back, etc.)

The "nucleus" of the fortress is destroyed. Seconds later, the fortress loses power.

Our brave (if graphically simplistic) hero escapes just in the nick of time.

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