Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces on Wii Impression

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces for Nintendo Wii offers up air combat in a fictional WWII era European setting. Set in the same general atmosphere as the anime The Sky Crawlers, Innocent Aces maintains the look and feel of the anime while taking on the gameplay personality of many a flying game that’s come before.

Gameplay – Air combat that puts gamers into the seat of an older era of planes. As with many Wii titles gamers have the option to use the Wii motion controls or plug in a classic controller. This choice is totally on preference and will not affect gameplay too much. Take on story based missions or re-play completed missions in free-mode. Before combat there’s a briefing on mission details as well as a chance to select your fighter, weapons and then to assess damage post-mission. The setting may not be exact WWII but the core gameplay is that of a WWII fighter.

Graphics – The fate of every Wii title, graphics that are polished GameCube .. and that’s for the top titles. Innocent Aces offers up a lot of detailed, blue sky and out of focus ground. The game does look good up in the air but the muted, soft look of the anime is maintained so there are segments that almost feel dreamlike, fuzzy at times. Not the greatest looking Wii titles but one of the better looking air combat titles.

Sound – Vehicle and weapons sound spot on and music is not too much a factor so let’s chalk this section up to ‘gets the job done’ and really nothing more (even for the in-flight voice work).

Design – Levels run the gamut of seek-n-destroy to support. Levels are, well in the sky. The design really shines with the characters and fighters. Characters are pulled right out of the anime, the design that is, and continues to carry the WWII comparison in their dress. They are a more realistic anime look, not the big eyed ones many associate with anime. The fighters are unique with some based on classic, real-world planes while others are designs that have been seen in concept, but never mass produced. The use of propeller on the rear of the fighter as well as reversed wing placement keep the gamer grounded in the fictional world.

Miscellaneous – The story of course. In the anime there was much more talking than fighting and more than a few questions left unanswered. It was an exercise in human development in a wartime environment while the game gets right to the action. The story moves along the heart of the game and while the Kildren, young pilot’s angle, will be explored a bit more it’s really all about the combat. Why the story is worth mentioning is for two reasons. First, fans of the anime will want to play Innocent Aces, second anyone who digs the core story will want to check out the slower paced anime, movie really. It’s a treat.

Overall, Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces is for two audiences. Wii owners looking to get a good WWII type fighter with interesting story and for owners of the Sky Crawlers anime movie. Seeing this title released gives hope to anime fans for all the great titles in Japan that have yet to see the light of day outside of import. These games, while based on anime properties, offer up solid gameplay that limited or no story knowledge will not hinder. Good graphics, sound, a decent story and solid gameplay highlight a gamer’s game on the Wii, take to the sky and enjoy.

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