Aero Fighters, known as Sonic Wings in Japan, is a vertical-scrolling shoot ’em up arcade game originally released in 1992 by Video System and ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993. It was the first in the series of Aero Fighters video games.
The Los Angeles Police Department
has the unenviable task of
keeping peace in a virtual war
zone. To add anything else to their already
overburdened capacity would be
like pouring a fresh pot of coffee into
an already full cup. So, when a
strange alien creature comes into
town on a hunting spree, the force is
hard-pressed to hunt it down. Indeed,
they face particular difficulty because
the creature is chameleon-like, able to
camouflage itself in virtually any setting,
as well as having the capacity to
move at a speed beyond comprehension.
In Konami’s Predator 2, players
have the opportunity to take on the
role of Detective Mike Harrigan in a
four-level arcade style free-for-all.
Players view the action from over
Harrigan’s shoulder as he walks down
the street and blows away almost
everything and everyone in sight with
any weapon he can get his hand on.
One thing is certain — the game
doesn’t suffer from lack of action.
Konami Gun Exchange
There are five different weapons available
to Harrigan, from a .45 magnum
automatic pistol (we don’t
know whether it is the Grizzly or
Wildey model) through the Mark
III rifle (somewhat better, but
with the trade-off of firing at a
slow rate), a Mark II shotgun
(which fires a bit faster and more
effectively), a Mark I assault shotgun
(the most effective and rapidfiring
weapon) and onward to an
M-203 grenade launcher (only
fires once, but destroys all
enemies currently on-screen). In
this reviewer’s gunsight, the best
all-around weapon for players to
use is the Mark I.
Players will quickly learn that
the key to the game is to constantly
pick up fresh ammo, just
like one gobbles power pills in
Pac-Man. The reason for this is
that all the weapons cycle
through the available ammo at a
fairly brisk clip and there is a stiff
penalty for players who run out
of ammunition. When one does
run out, the program immediately
issues a weapon rated one
level lower than the player-character’s
current weapon and five
fresh ammo magazines. This
can, of course, significantly
hinder the player’s progress in
the game, but it should not happen
very often (if at all) when the player
manages to keep one eye on the
ammo and continually acquire ammunition
magazines as they become
available. Ammunition magazines are
acquired in typical arcade game
fashion by shooting them as they appear
on-screen. Players should be
aware, however, that shooting the rocket
icon more than once will immediately
set it off and one just might
want to time its activation a bit more
carefully for optimum efficiency.
The Amiga version is beautiful, incorporating
excellent graphics and
awesome action. In fact, the graphics
intentionally add to the difficulty of
the game as well as the look. This is
because the same color-schemes are
used for innocents, as well as
criminals. Hence, the fast-shooting
player is forced to look at the icons
rather than just glancing around the
screen and picking out targets at random.
This makes for a type of
“Hogan’s Alley” (F.B.I. shooting/training
range) effect and adds to the challenge
of the game. If the player
shoots too many innocent
people, he loses a life. Fortunately,
the game designers
allow for a lot of “accidents,”
so the player doesn’t have to
be too careful.
In addition, the “You lost,
buddy!” screens have a strong
cinematic appearance. (We’ll
wager the alert reader wants to
know how we know about
those!) Depending on how the
player loses, by running out of
lives or shooting too many innocent
people, there is an appropriate
animation of either
Harrigan being carried away in
an ambulance or being called
into the captain’s office for a
disciplinary interview which
results in the player’s suspension
from the force.
The crosshairs line up very differently
on the C-64/128 version.
It is extremely disappointing
and must be so stated,
even though this reviewer
knows as well as anyone how
badly Commodore owners
desire software support — but
support like this is very inadequate.
The game takes forever
to load, even with a fast-load
cartridge. Splotchy icons dot the screen
with pictures that can hardly be recognizable
The Amiga box indicates that there is
no on-disk copy protection, but that is
not entirely true. Once into the manual,
Amiga owners are surprised with the
message: “Attention Amiga Users. Due
to the nature of this program, the disks
have been specially formatted to ensure
minimal disk swapping while maintaining
fluid game play. Therefore, conventional
back-up copies and hard disk install
is not available. Contact Konami’s
customer support for details regarding necessary back-up
copies.” Upon contacting Konami’s customer support line for
more information, this writer was greeted with, “Hey, dude, I was
trying to get ahold of you all day.” Upon responding that this
was highly unlikely, since this was an initial call for information
and the technician had no reason to have ever heard of this
writer (after all, even the prodigious fame that surrounds CGW
reviewers was unlikely to have preceded this modest scribe
without benefit of introduction), his response was, “Oh, wow
dude.” After asking for details on back-ups, he said, “Oh, dude…
just send in your original disks and we’ll send you some that can
be backed up.” To say the least, the customer service people
were far from professional. The consumer is not getting what is
advertised on the box and the only way
to get it is to send in the original disks
and wait for the “unprofessional” service
department to correct the problem.
If Predator 2 were a “great” game, it
might be worth the wait. The game is
tremendously frustrating, however. For a
computer game not to offer a “savegame”
option, at least upon the conclusion
of each level, suggests that the
development team is out of touch with
today’s market. Players are forced to
begin anew on the initial level after each
loss, as though there were some
mysterious virtue in traversing the same ground incessantly. This
tends to reduce the game to the point of becoming a digitized
treadmill rather than an exciting arcade experience.
On the positive side, however, Predator 2 offers enough action
for even the most bloodthirsty player. At the same time, the
game design makes at least some attempt to distinguish between
innocents and enemies in this exercise in killing or being
killed. So, at the much lower-than-average computer game price
at which Predator 2 is offered, the game may be a satisfying
choice for those who cannot get enough super-macho challenges.
All in all, however, as in most areas of life, one gets what
one pays for and Konami’s Predator 2 is no exception.
After getting over stingy character choice, you might be somewhat impressed by the graphics. While there are some negatives, overall, the graphics are quite acceptable. Character sprites are large and backgrounds are diverse. The character’s faces even turn black and blue when beaten up a bit. The negative aspect is character animation. There isn’t much there, and what is there can look very odd. Robert Garcia’s walking animation looks so unrealistic, it’s almost laughable.
Art of Fighting’s fighting system is standard fare: characters have three or so special techniques in addition to the regular punch and kick attacks. The “chi bar,” however, is an innovation that adds some strategic depth to fights. Special techniques must be conserved and used at opportune times, forcing you to rely on standard techniques more than on other fighters. Unfortunately, with only one button each for punching and kicking and a shallow fighting system, it still turns out to be a disappointing experience. Unresponsive controls just makes it that much more difficult to bear.
In an attempt to be more inventive than Street Fighter 2, the between-level bonus games have more of an effect than just dumping numbers into your high score. Each of the three bonus games improves the player’s character in one aspect, if successfully completed.
With its innovative chi bar idea, Art of Fighting could have been groundbreaking, but because the game was released a year after Street Fighter 2, it’s been completely overshadowed. Art of Fighting doesn’t do itself any favors by copying Street Fighter 2 characters and moves. Ryo and Robert have similar moves to Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter 2, and the Art of Fighting character John bears an eerie resemblance to Street Fighter 2’s Guile in background design and regular moves. Overall, Art of Fighting is an uninspired game that comes across as a quick cash-in attempt.
Interesting use of scaling, but poor character animations.
Lots of sound clips during Story Mode, but fight clips get repetitive.
Unresponsive controls ruin any enjoyment.
Only two playable characters in Single-player Mode?
The game sometimes teaches a character’s special techniques during the Story Mode.
While some really enjoy this game, it is probably one of the worst uses of the full motion video format. It is easy to see what the designers were going for. That feeling of staking out a house, voyeuristically watching for any shred of evidence while, at the same time, saving the college girls from evil. What it turns out to be is a guessing game of what, when, and where some astonishing event will happen.
Should you become hopelessly enthralled by the storyline it is possible to follow all the subtle cues and hints that lead up to the conclusion but the attacks on the women continue to feel random, becoming increasingly difficult to figure out when someone is being attacked.
All this could be passed off if the game looked good, but the Sega CD’s limited 64 color pallette rears its head making all the video footage grainy, bland, and particularly unwatchable. Taking the pain of even watching the game one step further, the video is scaled down to nearly one quarter of the screen size.
Even if you’re a die hard full motion video fanatic, you will most likely find no redeeming gameplay in Night Trap. If you want to solve a mystery you’d be better off playing Clue.
The video, which is shown constantly, is grainy, bland, and doesn’t even fill half the screen.
The music is uninspired though the voices and effects are decent.
What’s fun about cycling through cameras and trying to follow the shallow, poorly acted, video?
If you’re destined to beat this game you’ll be back many times trying to figure out the immense pattern of events.
Complete with storyline and controls.
The game is set in 1990 and the player must deal with events relating to that time in the beginning of the simulation. The Berlin Wall has just fallen. Iraq is just beginning to muscle in on Kuwait. How will the President respond? Economic sanctions? A covert assault? An all out nuclear attack? Several advisors (many of whom bear a striking resemblance to members of the elder George Bush’s cabinet) are at the player’s disposal, always ready with advice and opinions. In the end, however, it all comes back to the President himself and the player holds future of his presidency, and the future of the whole world, in his mouse-hand.
One of the great strengths of the original Police Quest was
that the encounters were “fictionalized” versions of actual
arrests and situations, either experienced by designer Jim
Walls himself (a retired law enforcement officer) or one of his colleagues,
that required correct police procedures to resolve.
Police Quest 3: The Kindred (PQ3) continues the tradition of excellence.
In spite of the controversial “parser-less” interface
(which some veteran adventure garners believe has a tendency
to make the games less complex), the latest installment in the
career of Detective Sonny Bonds still requires authentic police
procedures to solve the case. [Ed: In fact, the police procedural
aspects of the series have been so well-received by actual law
enforcement agencies and personnel that Jim Walls’ development
company, Jim Walls Games, is working on a professional
computerized training program using Sierra’s toolkit.]
The puzzles in PQ3 are tougher than those in earlier Police
Quest adventures. Be careful in making decisions early on as
they significantly affect results further on in the game. Also, unlike
some of the other games with the parserless interface, such
as Leisure Suit Larry 5, Sonny Bonds can die.
Of course, puzzles are not the only features to be enhanced in
PQ3. The graphic artists used rotoscoping (drawing over filmed
footage of live actors) to improve both the animated movements
of the characters and to provide a more cinematic perspective to
screen layouts and blocking (character movement on-screen).
Sometimes, the scenes are so real that reaching out and touching
the monitor would almost cause one to expect to see blood
on one’s hands (and PQ3 does have blood!).
The musical soundtrack, composed for maximum adrenalin effect
by Jan Hammer of Miami Vice fame, effectively uses most
of the available sound cards in presenting an audio cue as to the
importance of certain scenes, as well as enlivening transition
times. Beyond the music, the sound effects do a good job of
emulating everything from typewriter clacking to the banshee
screams of screeching tires.
Warning: Portions of the next few sections of this article
offer specific hints for completing the game. Readers who
do not desire hints should skip to the section entitled
In PQ3, the player takes on the role of a modern detective. To
succeed, one will practically have to be a master of deductive
reasoning, an artist (using the game’s computer-assisted composite
photo technique), a social worker and a computer
specialist. Following the manual’s “First Day Briefing (Walk-
Thru)” will get rookies (first-time PQ officers) off to a fast start.
The game begins like any police officer’s day, with a briefing.
As usual, parts of the briefing are thinly disguised versions of the
real thing. This is immediately followed by a one-on-one conference
with a fellow officer to determine strategy. Then, it is
time to equip oneself for the investigation by heading to the locker
room and adding useful articles to Sonny’s inventory. Players
better make sure that Sonny ends up in the “Men’s Locker
Room” or they are liable to meet an unhappy “fellow” officer that
resembles a female version of Mike Tyson.
Driving Sonny Crazy
Driving a police cruiser to Aspen Falls is next on Sonny’s agenda.
Navigation is accomplished via the map of Lytton provided
in the manual. Driving the car demonstrates some of the versatility
of the new Sierra adventure game toolkit. The player
places the cursor in front of the squad car and presses the left mouse button to increase speed and the right one for braking.
The car can be turned by placing the cursor at the intersection
(and in the direction) in which the turn is to be made. Since
these controls are considerably different than those to which
players are accustomed, it make take a while before they are
mastered. In fact, one is very likely to spin out quite a few times
when turning corners too fast. If players are alert for the signs
which indicate upcoming intersections or are paying attention to
the built-in “locater beacon,” they should get this part of the
game mastered fairly quickly.
Note that Aspen Falls does not have a turnout. So, one has to
stop the car, turn off the ignition and exit the vehicle at the appropriate
location. There, one must talk to the bystanders, take
notes and proceed according to police procedures. For those not
properly prepared, a watery grave awaits. Sometimes the best
thing to do is “to do unto others as they do unto you.” Remember,
a suspect should always be handcuffed and searched before
anything else is done. In addition, one must always follow procedures
when booking a suspect, since mistakes cost lives.
At this point in the game, Walls opts to deviate from realistic
police procedures. Normally, when a member of an officer’s immediate
family is a victim of a crime,
said officer is not allowed to work on the
case. The chance of the officer’s emotions
causing him/her to make a serious
mistake is too great. In this case, Marie
(Sonny’s wife) has been attacked and
stabbed. Of course, Sonny’s involvement
in the case is simply a page out of the
average detective movie where the hero
violates a direct order just to “make
sure” the crime is solved. In the game,
for example, Sonny knows that the scene
of the crime will have been carefully
scrutinized by the experts, but there is a
tremendous temptation just to make
sure. One must be certain to use
evidence gathering techniques properly
and to take down important information.
Also, just as one would expect in a mystery screenplay, it sometimes
takes a good night’s sleep in order for the subconscious to
sort matters out.
One thing is certain. Walls does an excellent job of keeping the
player motivated in PQ3. Sonny will definitely want to visit Marie
and the sight of his helpless wife is enough to bring tears to the
hardened crime fighter’s eyes. As if Marie’s situation were not
bad enough, the hospital environment is tremendously depressing.
Maybe the player could find something to brighten things
up? It might even help bring her out of the coma. After all, that
happens in other scripts. After that, well, maybe work will help to
pass the time.
So, the plot evolves. Sonny is transferred to Homicide and he
gets a new partner. One must get back to proper procedure to
advance further, though. Studying cases of similar homicides in
order to look for a “pattern,” interrogating a witness and creating
a composite photo should be helpful. Unfortunately, there is
something about Sonny’s new partner that just seems “funny.”
Maybe watching her might not be such a bad idea. In fact, there
is something “key” about watching her.
In fact, after a routine court appearance, Sonny may get his
chance to “key” in on his partner. Almost immediately, the two
detectives get a radio call indicating that a murder has been committed
in an alley near 300 Rose. Examining the body (a real
“nail biting” task) should give the detective some idea of the “pattern.”
This should be followed by a trip to return evidence to the
Sonny will eventually get enough evidence to end up at a local
pool hall. Once there, it certainly would not be a bad idea to
place a tracker on that vehicle Sonny has been trying to locate.
Then, one can enter the pool hall and, essentially, flush the
It’s a Dirty Job
After all the excitement, Sonny might notice that someone has
“taken a powder” (not in the usual sense). It might not be a bad
idea to search that person’s desk. The locker combination looks
helpful. After that, Sonny might need to get the janitor away
from the door. Well, what are janitors for? After obtaining his services,
it is no problem to exit and enter “forbidden territory” long
enough to examine the contents of the locker. Remember, an officer
had better inform his/her captain about such things.
After visiting both the coroner and Marie, the plot quickens with
a radio call from dispatch. Sonny will need to proceed to the appropriate
address. He should not, however, enter the dwelling
until after the fire marshall says it is all
clear. Then, he should take careful note
of the contents of the dwelling, particularly
the photographs. The altar room may
offer very fertile ground for gathering additional
Eventually, this will lead the detective to
visit the army recruiter at the mall and
read the file on the suspect. This, in turn,
will necessitate a visit with the criminal
psychologist back at the station and onward,
to the endgame.
Book ‘Em Dan-o!
If the investigation is proceeding well,
Sonny should be able to knock on the
door of the crack house and attempt to speak to its occupants.
As usual, the straight-ahead approach does not get him very far,
so he has to appear before a judge and obtain a search warrant.
If successful, he should be able to use the warrant to make a
search and garner enough evidence. He should return to the station
and book the evidence. Then, after returning to the courthouse
and appearing before the judge, once again, one can finally
make the bust. Alert players will remember, however, the immortal
words of Yogi Berra (“It ain’t over till it’s over!”) and
make sure that the real brains behind the operation is brought to
justice, even if it is cinematic justice!
Police Quest 3: The Kindred is the best of the series to date.
The parserless interface enhances playability so much that even
those who did not care for earlier Sierra releases may want to
try the new generation. PQ3 offers more replayability than one
would suspect, because every time one tries to do something differently,
something new will pop up that the player did not see
during the first experience.
Whether one is looking for a good “cops ‘n’ robbers” story, a
police procedural mystery or a challenging adventure game,
Police Quest 3: The Kindred fits the description.