Game Review: Sonic Wings Special
Developer: Video System
Available Platforms: Sony PlayStation 3, Sony PSP
ESRB Rating: E
It’s time to take to the skies, as multiple countries must fight off an apparent alien invasion. Sonic Wings Special combines all three Sonic Wings games into one title, and mixes them together into the ultimate old-school shooter. If you’ve tackled Aero Fighters in the past on the Super Nintendo, Neo Geo, or in the arcade, you know what you have to do: hold down the rapid fire button and shoot away.
Sonic Wings Special is one of the new import titles to the PlayStation Network, which comes with it’s whole host of issues. A PlayStation One title based on older arcade games, we’re looking at a game effectively cobbled together from components nearly twenty years old. For some, this would seem like a hinderance; others, especially those uncaring for the modern “bullet hell” style of shooter, this was the golden age of shooters.
If you’ve not played this style of aerial combat, your selected fighter is is constantly moving towards the top of the screen, with enemies flying towards you, firing away. As a port of multiple arcade titles, there are three different screen settings (regular, scrolling [which allows you to move the screen area up and down], and sideways [which either requires an awkward head tilt or an awkward monitor display]). Likewise, shedding off it’s arcade roles, there’s variable difficulty and lives, alongside a save feature, but keeping the trappings of points and old style leaderboards (where everyone writes their name as SEX or ASS).
The game contains much of the great shooter gameplay from the 1990’s arcades. Sonic Wings Special combines a good amount of shooter staples of the era; the bombs have varied effects, the standard fire ranges from scatter shot to straight on. Levels aren’t anything special, but are nicely animated and stylized. Tons of different fighters and unlockables, each with a different style of both gameplay and visual, extend the gameplay. The variety of levels contribute to effectively a different playthrough each time. For the most part, it’s a good level of difficulty…
… but even then, it can be a little too hard at times. The problem stems from it being the port of an arcade game; the goal was to keep putting coins in to extend playtime. Even on Easy with unlimited lives though, many levels may require multiple playthroughs. In fact, the final level either requires master skills from years of shooting away or a partner. There is the unique handicap that players need to play from the same country as each other, but it’d be nice to turn that feature off. Additionally, while a save game feature is listed on the title screen, thanks to the import nature of the title, you don’t know how to activate it unless you visit the official site.
Sonic Wings Special has a good time with the olden days of shooters. If you like a more leisurely pace to your shooting titles, and don’t mind a difficult challenge, grab a friend and fly the skies. Special offers enough variety for it’s price, and enough of a difference from modern gaming that it’s worth revisiting.