Saturday, November 5, 2011

Twelve Months, Sixty Dollars and a Gameboy Advance: October

F24 Stealth Fighter
by Majesco

The fun thing about this project is the opportunity to discover great new games for a beloved system that are inexpensive.  The real joy is uncovering a DK: King of Swing or Sword of Mana.  The exact opposite of that is F24 Stealth Fighter.

I was dismayed last month when the Pirates of the Caribbean game turned out to be a pile.  Thanks to F24 Stealth Fighter, those look like the salad days.  Oh how I wish for a game as playable as Pirates...

As I might have mentioned, I'm not a big cockpit fighter gamer.  I like Blazing Angels for the Wii.  I like Rogue Leader and Rogue Squadron.  If it's going to be a cockpit fighter game for me, it needs to be intuitive and easy to control.  The fancier you get and the more complicated you make the controls the faster you lose me.  And if you are going to make the controls really complicated, you need to ease me into it so I get a chance to learn (the same goes for race car games, Alfa Romeo...) and then master.  Majesco didn't get this memo.  Either that or they simply do not love me.
Maybe less cockpit and more sky would help...

Oh sure, the first mission seems simple enough: take out some enemy fighter jets in straight combat over the ocean.  Easy.  Excepting that it is next to impossible to maneuver your stealth fighter, or if it is possible to maneuver it, it is impossible to know that you are doing it right.  Oh sure, I read the 4 pages of in-game instructions on how to pilot the craft (you only have to hold 2 buttons simultaneously to alter your thrust, you know, intuitive).  I realize that all you have to do is bank left or right and climb or dive.  It sounds simple enough.  I get where the radar is and what it says.  Heck, I even get the targeting system.  But "getting" those things and putting them to use are two very different things.

Once in the air, I was lost.  Turn this way or that, fine, but it is impossible to tell if you are moving forward and if so at what rate.  A point of reference would be great, anything, a big cloud, cresting waves in the water below, I'll take it.  Instead, nothing.  But, wait, here comes an enemy jet!  That's fine, focus on it and forget about the disorienting environment.  Here it comes....WHOOOOSH!  there it goes.  Turn, turn, turn!  Quick!  Turn around and get behind it.  No wait, don't roll!  Turn damn you.  Turn!  Wait, where did it go?  Did I turn? I know I rolled, but I think I turned.  I should at least be able to see it somewhere on the screen.  The radar says it should be right there.  Maybe if I speed up, I can catch it.  Which two buttons increase speed again?  There.  Did I do it?  No way to know.  Oh, wait here comes the jet again!  Shoot!  Shoot!   WHOOOOOOOSH.  There it goes again!  Turn!  Turn!  No!  NOT ROLL!  Dammit!  Now I'm upside down.  Great.  Where is the enemy jet now?  No way to know.  Radar says it is nearby.  Maybe it is under me.  Dive!  Get that bastard!  THUMP!  Shit.  Something shot me from behind!  Turn!  Turn!  Where is it?  This is stupid.  Wait, am I still diving?  Uh-oh....

And that was about all I could take.  I spent 3 more attempts very eerily similar to the one described above in an effort to learn how to play this game.  The game fought back hard and eventually won.  I tried to use the targeting display in the hopes that it would take some of the guess work out.  Chuck Testa with another realistic mount.  (yeah, I know it's an annoying meme, but it cracks me up).  Maybe it was the game, but I just couldn't crack this one.  So I spent about 30 minutes tops (as much as my $5 was really going to buy if the game didn't grab me) and then decided it was time to move on.

Speaking of things that crack me up and moving on, let's forget the horrible waste of $5 that was F24 Stealth Fighter and look forward to Thanksgiving coming up by watching this bizarre video:

See you at the end of November....

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