Any launch library for a new game console is bound to have its share of hits and misses, especially when the game companies search anywhere for titles they can quickly convert to pad their catalog out. This flight simulator, developed by U.S.-based Nexa and known in some regions is simply F-16 Fighter, originally appeared on the MSX computer in Japan, but for whatever reason Sega though it would make a decent launch title for the Master System, even using the Sega Card format. The idea is simple, you’re out to pilot your aformentioned F16 though 10 grid-like levels shooting down as much enemy aircraft as you can. Your plane is armed with a machine gun and a limited amount of missiles and while the enemy planes will be gunning for you, you’re also equiped with electronic countermeasures and afterburners to evade their gunfire. Seems like exciting stuff at first, especially after seeing the decent title screen, but once you actually start playing you’ll quickly see why adding this sim to the SMS library was a bad idea all around.
First of all the in-game graphics look like something done on an Atari 5200 as they consist of the white-colored grid, a plain single-color background and some crudely drawn aircraft which move at a snail’s place. The background color does change form blue to black to gray but otherwise the graphics are the same throughout. Audiowise the only sounds to speak of are your jet engine, weapons firing and annoying beeps from your HUD, especially when you’re about to go down.
As bad as the audio and visuals are, the gameplay really shoots this flight sim down. Simply put the action is boring and way too slow-paced, which seems inexcusable for a title where you’re supposed to be flying a supersonic jet. Also Nexa decided to duplicate the complex controls of the MSX version for the Sega, ignoring the obvious difference between computers and consoles. As a result you need both controllers to operate your jet fighter; controller 1 handles the directional controls, weapons selection and firing while controller 2 manages air speed, countermeasures and radar locking. It’s one thing to have a keyboard to easily handle all the options, but trying to do things on both controllers at once can get frustrating pretty quickly. Not only that there’s a slight lag from when you push the buttons to when something actualy happens on-screen, especially with your weapons, which makes it a struggle to shoot down even one aircraft. In addition it just seemed like the programmers tried too hard to make this game a total flight simulator instead of a gamer-friendly air combat title like After Burner. You have an airspeed indicator, a pilot mode, ECM, a compass and other stuff to worry about, not the type of stuff to interest gamers who just want to grab the controls and blow things out of the sky. Five minutes with this game will have you reaching for the power button without hesitation.
There really isn’t much else to say other than this has to be one of the worst games on the SMS, card or cartridge. The boring, overcomplex gameplay is a big turnoff while everything else about this game just screams basic programming, even the label art which just has a gun sight instead of a pic of a jet or something. Only the most devoted simulator conniseurs need to apply for this mission, everyone else might want to soar to the much more playable flight games available for the SMS.
Oh, one more thing, if you feel you must try this game out, be aware it will NOT work with the Genesis Power Base Converter, only with the actual SMS console. Probably another sign to leave this bird be.