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F-16 Fighting Falcon Review

Developer: Nexa Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1986 Also On: None

Heavenly God in heaven on high holiness of God. I know that
sentence doesn’t make any sense, but this is what comes out of one’s mouth
after seeing something like this. Sega, why, why did you do this? Please
respond to this review with an answer, for the love of god. The only thing I
get out of reviewing awful games is that I seem to have more to say about
them. There isn’t enough for me to say about this, but I’m going to say flat
out it has to be the lowest score I’m ever going to give a game. This is the
most hideous title ever released, it had to have put a major dent in the
Master System’s market early on, it just had to have. I don’t see how it
couldn’t. Take your anti-depressants ahead of time, my friends, for here
comes F-16 Fighting Falcon.

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Talk about not using system specs at all. The SMS can really dish out the
colors and details if used properly. They just didn’t even try here, I
seriously mean that. This game was actually first released for the MSX, a
little known system that did poorly; it’s really only known for the true
sequel to Metal Gear. It was Microsoft’s first console attempt, I think it
only did well in Europe but they tried it in Japan too I believe. At any
rate, Sega lifted F-16, crap graphics and all, right onto the Master System.
Why? Well, here’s some more history for you. Before the SMS, Sega had
released a few systems, the first of which was the SG-1000, a rare console
that’s something like an Atari 5200. The interesting thing is that part of
the Master System’s hardware is wired to accommodate SG-1000 graphics because
when they released the Mark III (SMS) in Japan, they wanted players to be
able to play older games and perhaps even sell up old stock. So what did
they do here? Took a format similar to the SG-1000, and ported it. But wait,
they ported it without changing anything other than adding a Game Over,
title screen, and a few other things. It is otherwise the same game, and the
only attempt Sega made of backwards compatibility outside of Japan. The
graphics are seriously about 2-Bit, I’m not kidding, they’re that bad. You
have your lame, text control panel, a constantly unchanging blue (or green,
grey and black) background with dots to suggest movement, and some enemy
planes that are either grey or white. That’s it. Seriously, you have to see
this. I have never seen anything this terrible in all my years. The title
screen and such manage to use the SMS hardware capabilities, but I don’t
care because that has nothing to do with the actual game. Sometimes I let
that add a bit, but I can’t, when you play and see this horror you’ll
understand why I give it a straight zero for graphics. It doesn’t get worse
than this in terms of presentation and unused potential.

I can’t even believe I’m bothering with the sound category. F-16 Fighting
Falcon has almost no sound. Sega threw in a bland title track and a very
short opening theme for the levels, but that’s it other than some minor
things here and there. There is no music in this game. At least throw
in a repeating track or something. Without music, staring at the dot matrix
graphics endlessly with little variety is mind-numbing. They did throw in
jet sounds, but it just sounds like turning the television to a channel with
fuzz, it’s no better than that. It adjusts slightly as you change your speed
and they threw in some blops and bleeps for weapons and such, but nothing
worth the mention. The bullets sound like someone dropping small pieces of
broken glass on the floor. It’s all just so awful I don’t feel like
commenting anymore on it.

F-16 Fighting Falcon is one of the few flight simulation games Sega released
for the Master System. The other ones don’t fare much better than this, but
at least they’re playable. This game goes beyond unplayable. To my surprise
it’s one of the most complex games released back in the mid-1980s and had
Sega tweaked it more it may have been something someone would have found
entertaining. They tried to reproduce nearly everything from a real F-16 to
make this feel like you’re piloting one. You have an airspeed indicator,
pilot mode, ECM, a compass and so on. Quite a bit of detail here as far as
the actual structure is concerned. So much in fact that Sega had to make use
of both Control Pads in order for it to work at all. If you were using a
keyboard, which Sega’s earlier console the SC-3000 had built-in, this game
would have been easy to operate. With two controllers, though, it becomes
incredibly taxing. I have to give them some credit for throwing so much
reality into a game like this, there really is a ton here, but it doesn’t
play. Controller response is slow and choppy, aside from any complication in
learning to use it. You just move too slow to do anything with any
efficiency. It took me forever, even after learning the controls, to finally
get a few shots to connect with an enemy plane, only because your F-16 moves
too slowly.

I’m going to say that if you’re into realistic flight-sims, you may find
Fighting Falcon somewhat entertaining, but the process of learning
everything coupled with the fact that it doesn’t work well once you do may,
in the end, drive you away from the Master System forever. In addition to
all this there really isn’t any game variety at all. It’s almost as though
you’re playing the same levels over and over with only some color changes in
the background and a few more enemy planes here and there. Otherwise it’s
the same thing endlessly, there aren’t any missions to complete, as in Top
Gun for the NES, and you can actually select your level at the start. Talk
about taking what fun there was out of it.

Boom, to the floor we go in the creativity category. I can’t call this
creative at all because Sega almost completely ignored the Master System’s
capabilities as well as porting a game from an earlier system without adding
anything to it. There is just nothing here to even give this game a single,
minuscule close-to-zero-but-not-quite-zero score. I can’t even go on, this
is one of the most uncreative things ever not to mention one of the best
examples of cutting corners.

Replay value? Why would I want to come back to something I could hardly play
in the first place? Enough said. Game length? Well, I guess if you want to
spend hours trying to shoot down a single plane it might be up your alley,
but I doubt it. This game is awful, I would never come back to it nor would
I try to put any effort into it again to give it another chance. It’s not
worth it at all and I guarantee any gamer that comes across this will feel
the same way. This is simply one of the worst games ever, not even worth
playing more than once, or should I say trying to play more than once.

I hope to god in heaven this was a playable game on the MSX. Something tells
me it wasn’t. Then again, using a keyboard to play a flight-sim would be
much more entertaining. Instead of having to attempt to jump back and forth
between two controllers, awkwardly holding onto one while pressing the
other, you could just press a few keys and go on your way. This is just
incredible. I don’t think a game can get worse than this and I’m surprised
this title isn’t mentioned on any “Worst Games of All Time” lists.
Seriously, this has to be in the top ten at least. It’s so unplayable, not
to mention that it came from Sega, not a third-party company, hacker or
pirate. That fact alone makes it even worse because they could have done
something with it. Some of the faults of the Master System’s early days were
due to Tonka’s poor marketing, others were simply because Sega wasn’t
thinking. This should have never been released. Clearly Sega, for some
unknown reason, was looking to save some money, using up the latent
capabilities of the SG-1000 so they didn’t have to do much. Why? Seriously,
why? Was there any reason for this?

Graphics: 0
Sound: 0
Gameplay: 1
Creativity: 0
Replay Value/Game Length: 0
Final: 0.3
Written by Stan Review Guide