Aerial Assault Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1990 Also On: None

Aerial Assault was one of Sega’s last attempts at breathing some life in the failing Master System. Shortly after this game, and a few others ones as well, they started attempting imports, but to no avail. This game may perhaps have been one of the reasons why the SMS never truly got on its feet in the United States, especially later on.

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The graphics are below average. Backgrounds have nice detail, but are incredibly bland. Since the levels are way too long, this doesn’t help any since you basically see the same things over and over again. The title screen is definitely of lower quality than what could have been done for this time period. Your ship is well animated, but a number of enemies are basic. In level three, for example, the orange helicopters that give you power ups just move across the screen, but look absolutely terrible. Bosses are a bit better, but nothing spectacular. With games like Sonic the Hedgehog for the Master System in Europe, one expects more out of Sega in America since they took the power away from Tonka.

Aerial Assault’s music and sound is nothing very worthy of mention. It’s all quite basic and nothing outstanding ever occurs. Sound effects are generally fitting, but the music completely overshadows this little bit of goodness.

The gameplay is the same old “shooting” concept that can be found in any number of games for the SMS or the NES for that matter. Gradius set the bar in the mid 80s, so anything after it that essentially does the same thing should never have been considered for basic programming. It’s a shame to see a game like this come out after a gem like Power Strike. It’s the same old move the ship around, shoot things, get things, kind of game. There is nothing new here.

On top of this, it throws in a really annoying feature. Whenever you shoot an enemy that gives you a power up option, the option flies in the direction of your plane. While you’re trying to dodge enemies, this can be annoying because there is basically one weapon that trumps all others in the game and you really don’t want to lose it later on. Throwing in moving options to avoid in addition to enemies really upped the annoyance factor here.

You do get a nice variety of bombs to use that can be collected for more shots, so that’s nice, but the power ups for them come at you as well so you have to avoid them too. And, of course, there is one type of bomb that tends to be more useful than all of the others, so you really don’t want to switch. Plus, if you happen to choose another type of bomb, all of the bombs you saved up from whatever you may have had before disappear. This is understandable, but annoying, because if you happen to collect 85 napalm shots and then accidentally run into a single bomb icon and get 25 of those, you may be tempted to kick this game across the room.

Bosses are weak and pose no trouble at all. However, later on, this game carries the typical “shooter” flaw of being impossible if you lose your good weapons. On the last level in particular, there is a mini boss that will completely destroy you if you are stuck with single shot and single bombs.

Aerial Assault has essentially no creatively whatsoever. It borrows tons of ideas and is just too basic to even be considered relatively unique. Also, as I mentioned, this game came out much later in the Master System’s life, so one would expect more to be going on. It just really doesn’t provide anything.

And then we come to replay value. Let me tell you something, you’re in for an incredible amount of boredom here because the levels are much too long. Seriously, they could have been split into two levels each. Combine this with lame music, repetitive backgrounds, similar enemy configurations, and nothing interesting, and you’ll end up quite disappointed. It’s easy to beat once you get the five shot spread weapon, and after that I really doubt you’ll come back to it because there’s simply nothing here that’s very redeeming at all.

In conclusion, I have to say that Aerial Assault is complete garbage. Well, it’s not complete garbage, but it’s nothing really worth anyone’s time. It adds nothing to the classic “shooter” concept and is just bland in the long run. There is simply nothing here to say, it’s just a depressing game. Stay away unless you’re looking to complete your collection because the NTSC version is quite hard to locate. There is a reason for this, as you’ll see if you ever play it.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 4.5
Gameplay: 2
Creativity: 2
Replay Value/Game Length: 1.5
Final: 3.2
Written by Stan Review Guide

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