Feb 022010

Final Status: Completed all main story missions on various difficulties

Put This on Your Box: It’s Top Gun meets World War II!

Most Intriguing Idea: Making an arcade flight sim that controls somewhat like an actual airplane.

Best Design Decision: The tactical maneuver commands — done right, there’s nothing wrong with “Press A for Awesome”.

Worst Design Decision: Brevity.


I’ve seen a lot of different opinions expressed about the unique control scheme of Innocent Aces, which puts the nunchuck in the right hand as a control stick and the Wiimote in the left hand as the throttle. Some have praised this approach as original and interesting, which is true, and others have attacked it as unwieldy and difficult, which is also true. The default scheme is generally adequate, but it doesn’t always behave predictably and doesn’t hold up well in the boss dogfights. Innocent Aces is based on an anime and novel series I haven’t seen, but the story here is insipid and easy to ignore despite the awesome premise. You star as an ace pilot in a combat squad fighting a fake war to entertain the masses, who has to deal with weird teens expressing clichéd Japanese villain (disrespecting the dead) and rival (way too interested in testing her strength against you) tropes.

The game is very arcade-y in nature, as best shown by the “Tactical Maneuver Commands” that allow a player to pull off insane maneuvers so he can slide up behind his enemies and shoot them down. While this treads close to quick-time territory, the fact that the TMCs must be charged up by staying close to an enemy makes them feel like a reward for flying well rather than just pressing a button to do awesome, impossible things. The game also has a very satisfying post-mission recap mode.

While it lasts, Innocent Aces is pretty fun. The problem is that of the 17 story missions available, some are too elementary and some are just trash (I am thinking here of the two missions that force you to fly the unwieldy Senryu). And that’s about all you get. There’s no free-flying mode to try out new planes or new moves, and there’s no way to design your own mission to tighten up particular skills. Given the weak story, the low resolution of the environments, and the really short duration of some missions, Innocent Aces just doesn’t feel like it has much content on the disc. If you’re not into trying the same few missions over and over again to nail S rank at every difficulty you’re not going to get so much out of it.

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