Jeremy Jastrzab
06 Sep, 2010

WiiWare: Pearl Harbor Trilogy - 1941: Red Sun Rising Review

Wii Review | Before the Battefield, there was Pearl Harbor 1941.
There aren’t too many games available through WiiWare that seem to have really captured the imagination of the gaming public. While the initial excitement of the Virtual Console seems to have died down now that the majority of the beloved classics have been released, the WiiWare titles that seem to have replaced these releases barely get mentioned in comparison some of their XBLA or PSN counterparts. Which is a real shame, when you have titles such as arcade flight combat game Pearl Harbor Trilogy – 1941: Red Sun Rising from Legendo sitting on the service just waiting to be downloaded.

Pearl Harbor Trilogy – 1941: Red Sun Rising is actually a remake of Attack on Pearl Harbor, which was released on the PC three years ago. However, coming to WiiWare has necessitated some technical changes, while the movement to the Wii in general has allowed form some gameplay changes too. While the name implies a set of three games, there is no information currently available about what will be available afterwards.

A bit much?

A bit much?
Pearl Harbor Trilogy doesn’t really have much in terms of a story, but you’re essentially playing through historical aerial battles between America and Japan from World War II. You’ll do this from the perspectives of both American (The Awakening) and Japanese (Operation Z) pilots, where you each start off at Pearl Harbor and follow the events from there. While each campaign begins and ends which a nicely drawn comic strip, each mission is linked by text explanations. Each campaign has been tailored so it slants slightly towards the side that you’re playing as, though both sides have similar conclusions. Not really a cliffhanger, but when you see it you should know what it’s implying.

Outside of the campaign, you have three Dogfight modes. Avenging Aces has you looking to achieve a set number of kills, Survival lets you set your time limit for surviving enemy waves and Free Flight lets you just fly around for fun. Given that the title’s status as a downloadable game, this lower key presentation is certainly understandable. However, the fact alone that the campaign is likely to take you around six hours to complete makes it a very substantial title for the cost. So while there is less substance than what you’d expect from a retail game, as a downloadable title, Pearl Harbor Trilogy is certainly giving you your money’s worth, even if there is no multiplayer.

In terms of gameplay changes, you now fly your planes with one of three different control schemes, two which utilise the Wii Remote’s usual gimmicks. Very intelligently, the game picks up which of the three you wish to use (Wii Remote, Wii Remote plus Nunchuk, Classic Controller) as it is connected. While the Classic Controller option makes the game play like any standard console flight game, the other two options are more interesting. The Wii Remote plus Nunchuk is a little difficult to control, as your flight is controlled by tilting the Nunchuck. This simply doesn't control as well as you holding the Wii Remote one its side and controlling the planes movements with tilts in the direction you want to go.

You sunk my battleship.

You sunk my battleship.
One of the common complaints with the game has been the rigidity of the controls. Often, you will struggle for precision as your aiming reticule is fixed. Instead you have to rely on skills such as first getting behind an enemy and then leading your shots as you try and out-manoeuvre them. The result makes for a fairly difficult game. However, it’s by no means impossible, and the controls do everything that they’re supposed to do. While it is hard, shooting down just the one enemy feels immensely rewarding and satisfying, let alone when you’ve shot down five enemies, one after the other. Avoiding fire can often be a challenge unto itself too. It’s a bit of a conundrum, as the controls take can take up to an hour of play time to get used to, so it’s clear that anyone who complains about them hasn’t spent enough time with the game. However, this means that the game lacks the accessibility often associated with the Wii.

Across the sixteen missions in the game (eight from each side), one clever aspect is the option to play through some missions from up to three different perspectives: fighter, bomber, and torpedo. Each plane type has its own objectives and if you’re having trouble with one, you can sometimes switch to another. Unfortunately, there isn’t much variety within the missions themselves, with very basic objectives and plenty of markers to help you out. However, the game makes up for this with the challenge of taking down other planes, and though taking out fixtures and ships is very easy, you have the challenge of avoiding a lot of fire that will be coming at you at any given time.

Aside from a couple of minor glitches (such as some strange aborts on takeoff) and lack of feature explanations, the main detraction from Pearl Harbour Trilogy is the steep learning and adaption curve. While we’ve already spoken about the controls, it’s the surprisingly proficient AI that is almost too good at times, which can make the game frustrating. While the game is fairly generous with health, the enemy AI can sometimes be very predatory and it can be difficult and disorientating to handle in large-scale skirmishes. Furthermore, the mission difficulty isn’t progressive; so it isn’t going from easiest to hardest, it’s just a mixed bag. At the end, it doesn’t make things impossible, but it can be frustrating.

So, where am I supposed to end up.

So, where am I supposed to end up.
In order to fit as a downloadable title on the Wii, there have obviously been some concessions made since the time that it was a PC title. Sure, it may be low on detail, low on model quality and environments aren’t particularly distinctive, but as far as WiiWare games go, it actually looks quite reasonable. Not to mention, the menus have a nice 1940s comicbook look to them, there are virtually no load times and there is not a single drop in the frame rate. There isn’t too much to say about the sound quality in the game. There are a few basic tunes and sound effects, simlish voiceovers from your commanding officer and while it isn’t anything exceptional to it, it’s all in the right place.

As far as it stands, Pearl Harbor Trilogy – 1941: Red Sun Rising is not only one of the better WiiWare titles available, but it’s probably one of the better aerial combat games available on the Wii in general. There really aren’t too many prominent retail titles that offer more than what is available here, and as a standalone aerial combat game, it offers an immensely satisfying challenge and interesting control schemes. While aspects such as the dearth in the presentation are forgivable, occasionally insidious AI and scatterbrain difficulty could use a more work. Regardless, you get a lot for quite a small layout.
The Score
An immensely rewarding challenge, well implemented controls and a fair amount of bang for your buck make Pearl Harbor Trilogy – 1941: Red Sun Rising one of the better Wii aerial combat games, and not just on WiiWare. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  05/07/2010 (Confirmed)
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