One of the disadvantages of a new system is that you are often limited in your choice of game in a genre. I love racing games, but the selection on Switch is still pretty limited. If you’re after a game featuring planes, then you really are going to be pushed to find something. At the time of writing this, I could only find two other games where you control an aircraft and both of those are pretty sedate affairs. Well, if you’re after some aerial combat then Infinite State Games is coming to your rescue with Rogue Aces.
When you turn on Rogue Aces you are greeted with a simple looking 2D action title with procedurally generated maps. Though it may appear simplistic, there is a lot to think about here. Do you ignore enemy aircraft and just focus on your objective? Those aircraft might have power-ups for you plane though and would make future missions easier. Once you have completed your objective do you use your remaining bombs, missiles, or fuel to take out more enemies to earn more XP before the difficulty ratchets up? There is a lot of balancing risk against reward.
All of these tactical decisions and strategies would be for nothing though if the main combat was dull. Fortunately, the team at Infinite State Games have nailed the feel and joy of flying a fighter plane to its limit. The planes twist and turn, rise and fall, and accelerate in a way that just seems right. Dogfights are tense with planes looping and chasing each other to gain the advantage. You also get a huge buzz of adrenaline as you skim the ground trying to take out tanks, infantry, and trains. As you gain power-ups, your plane starts to feel like an absolute beast. Once you have fully upgraded your cannon power and fire-rate you can cut a swathe through anything that crosses your path.
You’ll need to upgrade your aircraft as you progress through the different campaign modes. The Normal Campaign offers 100 randomly generated missions that range from destroying a set number of aircraft, infantry, or other vehicles, to reducing radar towers, factories, and airfields to rubble. Get to mission 20 and a Baron who has a more powerful plane, who can be quite tricky to take down, will greet you. If you find all that a bit easy you can try the Veteran Campaign, which is more of the same with some tougher enemies and no auto-landings.
The other main campaign mode is the Frontline Campaign. Here you will try and battle your way across a series of islands to ultimately reach the enemies home-base. When you start, you’re shown a map of the islands with your ultimate objective being the top-right island while you start on the bottom left island. You choose which island to try and liberate next, though it has to be next to the island you are on, with each island having slightly different objectives. Altering your route to the goal can also be useful to try and avoid the Baron who is always coming for you. Each time you defeat the Baron he will respawn at the enemy base, in a more powerful aircraft, and start hunting you down again. All of this is done against a time limit. You have 2 days of in-game time to reach and take over the enemy base with each island liberation attempt knocking 2 hours off of that time.
To round off the package, there are also 4 arcade modes. Survival mode will see you dogfight against infinite waves of enemy aircraft. While you can land on the aircraft carrier to repair your plane, this will reset your score multiplier. This adds a level of tactics to a mode that could be just very simplistic and turns it into something that is gripping and will have you on the edge of your seat. Hot Potato mode puts a timed explosive on your plane and requires you to jump out before explodes and land on another aircraft to commandeer it. Rogue Ace mode gives you a fully upgraded plane and no objectives allowing you to blast enemies away to your heart’s content. There is one other mode but I have yet to unlock it.
I have to say that I have had a lot of fun with Rogue Aces. It’s not the kind of game where you will be playing it for hours at a time, though you could and may start that way. It’s the perfect game to take out and about with you and have a 5-10 minute blast on. It can get a little repetitive but in short bursts and playing across the various modes this is a cracking little game to have in your library. For less than thirteen dollars, Rogue Aces gives you a lot of bang for your buck.