Bev Chen
24 Jun, 2010

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces Review

Wii Review | Doesn't quite take off.
Flight simulation video games have been a staple of the games industry for over 25 years. While the market is not nearly as peppered with franchises and titles as it was in the past, there are still gamers who will eagerly shell out a large amount of money to purchase joysticks and other peripherals to feel as though they are actually piloting a plane. Fortunately, with the advent of arcade-style flight simulators such as Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. and the Ace Combat series, players only need a controller in order to enjoy the feeling of soaring through the air at high altitudes.

It is on this basis, that Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces was created for the Wii. Indeed, the platform’s motion control capabilities mean that it is possible for Project Aces, who had previously worked on the Ace Combat, to create a unique control scheme. And on this front, they succeed.

As you might expect, players control their aircraft using the Wii remote and the Nunchuck. However, in a move that may seem counter-intuitive, the game requires players to hold the Wii remote in the left and the Nunchuck in their right. The Wii remote controls the aircraft’s speed; tilting it upwards will make the plane go faster, while tilting it downwards will make it go slower. The B Button is also handy for sudden braking. The Nunchuck, simulating the use of a plane joystick, steers the plane, allowing players to move in any way they please with a mere tilt of the wrist. It feels very strange at first, but after a few missions it begins to feel natural. For those who are not fans of motion controls, there is also the option to use either the Gamecube or Classic Controller.

A TMC in action.

A TMC in action.
While the control scheme is the high point of Sky Crawlers, the combat system is finicky and difficult to get into. Like most combat flight-sim games, players have to wait until their craft is close enough to an enemy before they can attempt to shoot it down with their weapon of choice, but Sky Crawlers lacks a lock-on system that would have made life much easier. The closest thing to such a system is the Tactical Manoeuvre Command (TMC), which involves the player flying within a certain distance of the enemy until the gauge at the bottom of the screen fills up to an adequate level. Then, by pressing A on the Wii remote, the aircraft will automatically perform a visually impressive aerial stunt and land directly behind the target in question, allowing the player to pump it full of bullets. However, it is unwise to rely on TMCs for the whole game, as there are some enemies that cannot be targeted.

The game is divided up into a number of missions, with objectives that range anywhere from recon to protecting towns from enemy aircraft. A single level may have you complete several objectives, back to back, but the way that the checkpoint system works is uneven and frustrating. Players may find that they have to repeat certain parts of the level before being able to reattempt the objectives that they had failed previously.

Sky Crawlers also lacks any real kind of multiplayer mode, limiting itself to having a second player join in on a Wii remote in order to man a machine gun, doing so by pointing at the screen and shooting. It’s a shame because it seems obvious that a combat flight-sim game would benefit from having a decent multiplayer mode.

Wait... what are we fighting for again?

Wait... what are we fighting for again?
However, the game has a few other features, including the ability for players to save and watch replay footage, as well as allowing them to view their high scores and other data. For the completionist, there are also medals, which are earned when certain criteria are reached.

The player takes the role of an ace pilot referred to only as Lynx and later on, Cheetah. This character serves to have very little purpose in the bigger picture, feeling much like a tacked-on attempt in involving the player in the storyline. Indeed, as Sky Crawlers was originally a series of novels that were adapted into an animated film, the game never really attempts to fully explain the storyline to players who have not read the books or watched the movie, which may lead to confusion.

A neat touch to the game, however, is the rather liberal use of anime cutscenes, which look great. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the in-game graphics. While the Wii isn’t a graphic powerhouse, the planes are blocky and the environments are dull and unimaginative. The real disappointment lies in the lack of variety of maps, with a few of them visited several times, or at the very least looking extraordinarily similar to those previously seen.

Or rather, the score adds to the stratosphere.

Or rather, the score adds to the stratosphere.
Fortunately, the game manages to redeem itself a little in the sound category, utilising some great sound effects and hiring decent voice talent. Every line of dialogue in the game is actually spoken, which makes mission briefings feel complete. The score also adds to the atmosphere, with the music starting off calmly and turning tense and fast-paced when enemies appear on the radar.

While Sky Crawlers has a good variety of quality audio and a control scheme that will be the envy of any motion-controlled game on the Wii, but it is let down by sluggish, unexciting gameplay, a perplexing storyline and dated graphics. Project Aces has certainly made an effort to create a flight simulation game that targets a wider audience, and if these areas can be improved, their next Wii title is sure to be a hit.
The Score
Give it a go if you’re a fan of combat flight-sims or the film, but otherwise, you’re likely to be disappointed. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
Its $12 at GAME at the moment. Totally worth that price.
3 years ago

I bought at that price today. Will get around to playing it sometime next year icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
I sadly got this game for $35 at EB before the GAME sale was on :(

I played a bit of it and it's alright from what I've played so far but for $12, it's well worth it.
3 years ago
going to GAME tomorrow to get this.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  25/03/2010 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
  Namco Bandai Partners (Atari)
Year Made:

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