Saturday, November 18

Review: Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron [ Nintendo Switch eShop ]

While there have been quite a number of shooters on the Switch of several varieties, as well as obviously the classic Neo Geo shooters brought to the system by Hamster, there hasn’t yet been a modern take on the classic arcade shooter… that is, until now. Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron is here to fill that void and has done so with tons of both charm and style. Rather than simply filling in a gap in the line-up Squadron has absolutely thrown down a gauntlet on how to modernize this classic arcade genre in the best ways possible.

Starting with the basics you’ll find yourself in an alternative version of history where at the conclusion of World War 2 a top secret German squad, The Aces of the Luftwaffe, has counter-attacked the mainland USA. Together with your ragtag squad on your wings you’ll need to work to stop them one by one and save our country. While it’s all a bit silly I’ll give credit to Squadron for keeping things interesting. Each member of your squad has certain problems and limitations that will arise over the course of the game’s 25 stages and these lend some base variety. When you throw in the game’s 5 bosses who are filled to the brim with personality and very different attack styles it gets even better. Finally, when you have missions with a variety of objectives that include escorting other ships, refueling runs, and a creative stealth operation pretty well every stage has something fresh to offer.

What helps to further amp up the challenge and fun are the varying paths you can choose to follow when upgrading your units. Each pilot has special abilities you can unlock by using upgrades you earn when leveling up, completing secondary mission objectives, or generally by clearing the majority of enemies since there’s a hidden credit associated with a random unit in each level. Since the latter stages of the game can get quite challenging you’ll probably want to return to previous missions to grind a bit for these upgrades since they can substantially change how you play. Essentially all of them have something tempting about them so you’ll simply have to pick a course and hope for the best but as you unlock more abilities you can begin to feel quite powerful. This is further helped along through the ability to additionally unlock different planes and you can then change up which aircraft you and your crew fly in order to improve your bullet spread, survivability, or even maneuverability depending on how you configure things. If you have some friends to play with locally they can even take the role of your wingmen as well so up to 4 people can play cooperatively at once to really kick some Nazi butt.

While I would normally devote this point in the review to downsides there are actually very few that come to mind. Some of the load times can be a bit long, and the lack of an ability to skip all types of cutscenes would have been nice but these are pretty small concerns considering how incredible the game is otherwise. In particular I absolutely love the game’s boss characters for being so weird, wacky, and full of distinct personalities. The voice acting for each of them actually helped pull me in even further and it all makes the level of polish on the game impressive, greatly overshadowing any nitpicks.

I am absolutely in love with this game even though until I reviewed it I had heard almost nothing about it and that’s simply criminal. While I’ve played quite a number of modern arcade-style shooters I don’t think as a total package any of them have impressed me as much as Squadron has. Every aspect of the game feels like it was put in place with both skill and love and I’d say if you have ever enjoyed arcade shooters at all Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron is well worth picking up! I think it has earned its place at the top of the genre and serves as the bar other arcade-style shooters will be measured by.

Score: 9.5

  • Outstanding varied play from stage to stage
  • Challenging but also doesn’t overdo it since with some grinding your team abilities will begin to help you conquer things you previously found too difficult
  • Absolutely terrific production values from the art to the stage music to the voice acting

  • Some of the load times can feel a little long
  • There are some sequences you can’t skip even if you’ve seen them before
  • You’ll likely need to level grind some to get to the end

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