Some genres seem to come and go when it comes to games, but others stand the test of time no matter how many games are released. Shmups are one of those timeless genres. One of the newest games released in that category is Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron from Handy Games.
Taking place in an alternate reality where the German Luftwaffe has invaded the United States, it is up to you and your rag tag group of pilots to save the day. The enemy has advanced weapons, and far superior Aces. You must destroy their forces, bring supplies to your troops, defend your team, and try to shoot down the Aces in order to save the world. Take them on solo, with you leading your squad, or have friends jump in and take control of your wingmen.
The game is a pretty standard vertical scrolling shmup bullet hell, but it does offer some interesting twists. Your squadron of pilots has a few problems that you must contend with in almost every mission. Your lead pilot suffers from poisoning which flairs up and in order to get it too pass you must move slowly. And your wingmen suffer from narcolepsy, a fear of heights, and anger issues – all of which will make you alter your game play when they kick in. As you progress through the campaign and level up your squadron, you will earn skill tokens that can be used to power up your pilots. These sills will allow you to use more powerful weapons, repair each other, increase speed and more. You will need to power up your wingmen as well, but don’t worry, if you are playing solo the AI will use their skills to help you out.
There are 3 difficulty levels in the game, but only 2 are unlocked when you start. Even on Normal, the lowest setting, you will probably have to replay levels in order to rank up enough to get skill coins in order to level up your pilots. While this can introduce a bit of a grind to the game, you can go back and play any level you have beaten. You can even increase the difficulty to Hard for more points. There are 5 chapters in the game with 5 levels a piece. The first four chapters are 4 levels with different objectives, then the last level is an Ace. The final chapter features two levels with Aces for you to defeat.
The graphics are bright and colorful. There is a lot going on on the screen, but everything is well defined and easy to make out. Bullets will be flying everywhere and the crisp graphics help you to avoid them, as they don’t get lost in the scenery. There are multiple planes that you and your squad can use, each with different attributes and fairly distinct designs. The Aces are also every unique in design and attacks. The soundtrack is upbeat and fun. While the voice acting is a bit flat, the dialogue does have some good humor in it.
Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron is out now on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. With a price right around $15, there is a lot of game play here. You can pick it up to run through the campaign, or just play a few levels to earn skill points for your squad. The addition of local multiplayer also adds to the value, but it would be nice to be able to play online with friends as well. If you are a fan of shmups, this is one to definitely look into adding to your collection.