Review: Rogue Aces (Switch)

A clever, unique 2D shooter takes the eShop by storm!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 05/04/2018 09:30 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Punchy, bright visuals keep the action light, snappy, and a delight to look at; tight, smooth play controls; excellent combat; tons of replayability; funny writing
Poison Mushroom for...
Difficulty curve might be a bit much for inexperienced players

2D shooters were once a staple of arcades, with series like Gradius, Galaga, and others gobbling up quarters on a regular basis. With the arrival of Nintendo Switch, many of these classics have been re-released as part of Hamster’s Arcade Archives offerings, for instance. While these old-school games are a delight in their own right, it’s always nice to see a developer come along and do something new with the genre. Thankfully, Curve Digital and Infinite State Games have done exactly that with the excellent shooter Rogue Aces.

From the outset, players are thrust into the role of a fighter pilot (either as a male or female) and guided through a tutorial mission by the fleet’s captain. It’s war and players are fighting for the Brits! Seated in a shiny green fighter plane, the captain goes through the various controls for the game. As opposed to the typical 2D scrolling shooter, Rogue Aces allows complete freedom of movement. The player’s plane can move left, right, and even corkscrew straight into the sky. It wouldn’t be much of a shooter if there weren’t offensive variety, and thankfully pilots can fire guns, drop bombs, shoot missiles, and even turbo boost (at the expense of fuel) to maneuver around the enemy.

Despite the relative complexity of the control scheme (compared to the garden variety shooter), Rogue Aces is intuitive and easy to start playing. It was a breeze learning to zip around the game world. It was also incredibly satisfying taking on enemy combatants. Opposing fighters are tenacious, as are the ground-based infantry. Beyond them, there are also enemy bombers to deal with, too. The variety of foes is solid, keeping the action constantly fresh and exhilarating.

The campaign is mission-based with a British aircraft carrier serving as the main base. It’s centrally located within the game world, with the enemy to either side. The captain gives out a variety of random orders to complete for each mission: take out “x” number of enemies, free prisoners, take out “x” number of tanks, and so on. Granted, while the bulk of these activities are pretty simple (basically, blow stuff up), the execution is so solid, the action so visceral, it doesn’t matter. The missions are procedurally generated, which can irk some players (myself included), but given the fairly straightforward nature of Rogue Aces‘ gameplay, it works swimmingly here. Every time I launched into the campaign something new came my way.

One element of the game that might throw players off is that the campaign consists of 100 missions, but there are only three planes available to complete them. Considering how frenzied battles can become, it’s easy to get blown to bits and lose all three planes before cracking that 100th mission. Thankfully, there are a number of different factors that help swing things in the player’s favor. For starters, the pilot’s level will continue to climb as players complete missions. Regardless of whether or not the player gets to the final mission, experience points are tacked on and new buffs are unlocked. This constant reward for playing makes the frequent deaths that are likely to occur from the outset of the game easier to swallow.

Another element of the game that makes it easier to get to mission 100 and succeed is the way that certain bits of the terrain can be taken over by the British. Swoop in on an enemy airstrip, destroy the structures, and land, and fellow soldiers will then parachute down and make it their own. This creates secondary landing zones to take advantage of when the pilot’s plane needs to be refueled or patched up. Finally, there’s one stratagem that’s far less orthodox but no less entertaining: ejecting from the fighter plane and lobbing grenades! Once the player’s plane takes on too much damage, the pilot can eject and parachute to safety. However, as they’re falling, they can also drop grenades and take out enemies. It speaks to the arcade-like nature of Rogue Aces and it works very, very well. In fact, it’s even possible to parachute into an enemy’s aircraft and commandeer it. It’s a testament to how zany, fun, and creative Rogue Aces is that this activity works as well as it does.

A lot of 2D shooters lean on being “cool” with over-the-top visuals and millions of bullets on-screen, but Rogue Aces instead goes for a lighter tone and places the emphasis squarely on the oldest, most reliable thing in the video game industry: perfect play control. Throw in a ton of different modes, including an Arcade mode, and players will be coming back to Rogue Aces for some time. Curve Digital continues to find unique and entertaining games to publish, and Rogue Aces is the latest to grace Switch. The game caught me off guard, but don’t let the same happen to you: I highly recommend heading to the eShop and downloading it.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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