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Fighter & Attacker (Arcade) artwork

Fighter & Attacker (Arcade) review

"As I was playing 1992 Namco shooter Fighter & Attacker, one question kept popping into my mind. No, it didn’t involve me wondering how any self-respecting company could think “Fighter & Attacker” would be an attention-grabbing name — this was a far more important matter. As I blew stuff up through the game’s eight levels, I just wanted to know one thing. "

As I was playing 1992 Namco shooter Fighter & Attacker, one question kept popping into my mind. No, it didn’t involve me wondering how any self-respecting company could think “Fighter & Attacker” would be an attention-grabbing name — this was a far more important matter. As I blew stuff up through the game’s eight levels, I just wanted to know one thing.

How many games did Namco “borrow” from to create this derivative excuse for a shooter?

The general theme of the game obviously bears a strong resemblance to such genre classics as 1942 and Raiden, as this is a vertically-scrolling military shooter that doesn’t deviate from that path one bit. Everything you go up against will be some sort of plane, tank or watercraft AND, just like 1942, many of the larger enemies have multiple guns you have to destroy in order to emerge victorious. No big deal, right? Most classic shooters either followed a military or science fiction theme, with a few combining elements of both.

One of those “combination” shooters was Aerofighters. While Fighter & Attacker doesn’t share that game’s imagination, it does share its large collection of planes to choose from. Now, don’t get too excited about this. In the three Aerofighters games, each plane had its own (usually wacky) pilot, who would greet you with some sort of “go get ‘em” comment before each stage. You don’t get that here. The only difference between one plane and the next (not counting graphics) is the type of weaponry possessed.

Like a number of old-school shooters (think Xevious, for one), to get the full use of your weapons, you have to manipulate two buttons — one for your basic blaster and the other for a secondary weapon used to take out tanks and other ground installations. That secondary weapon is only necessary in six of the eight stages, though, as in the other two, you’ll be flying way too high in the air for a squad of tanks to be more than a microscopic dot on the screen.

But I know what you must be thinking. This game can’t be completely derivative of other shooters, can it? There must be something to set it apart from the pack? Well, you’re right.

You can’t power up your plane in any way, shape or form!

Yep, you heard me right. Fighter & Attacker doesn’t give out power-ups. If you pick a plane with a weak five-wide spread of bullets, that’s what you’ll be stuck with. Those bullets will never get stronger and you’ll never get to add more shots to your attack. You’ll never pick up little “helper-buddy” planes to supplement your firepower. You’ll never get to pick up big bombs to send all your foes to a fiery hell. You’ll never get to do anything to customize your form of attack besides picking a new plane after the destruction of your current one — something that should be considered a given under these circumstances.

As opposed to giving you three lives, Fighter & Attacker gives you one plane per credit — but allows it to take three hits. Gain enough points and you’ll be able to get one of those hits back (assuming you’ve taken any). While a lot of your points will be obtained from the wanton destruction of enemy property, you also will get a fair share by taking captives. In one of the few cool aspects of this game, destroying tanks and buildings (and in some cases, planes) sometimes will expose people you can pick up. Survive until the end of the stage and those hostages will give you a goodly sum of points.

Another thing I liked was that there was a definite connection between the game’s stages. You might finish one stage besting a boss at dusk in a mountainous region. The next stage will begin at night in those same mountains before the terrain gradually changes to something else. It’s a minor detail, but after playing a number of shooters that whisk you from one region to a dramatically different one with no warning, it’s nice to see a bit of continuity.

But all that’s not enough to give me reason to recommend Fighter & Attacker. This is just one of those games that really doesn’t do anything positive to set it apart from the pack of military-themed shooters out there. Sure the stages might look reasonably nice and there might be some decent music supporting them, but those things can’t conceal the fact that each of the six stages with both ground and air enemies seem a bit TOO similar with the only non-aesthetic difference being that the latter stages are far tougher than the first couple. As for the two “air-only” stages, the only thing I can really say is that there has to be a better way to provide a high degree of difficulty than simply tossing out a seemingly unending stream of large planes faster than you can shoot them out of the sky.

While I wouldn’t recommend you avoid Fighter & Attacker at all costs, or anything overly dramatic like that, I also wouldn’t endorse it as a fun way to pass time. You can get the same sort of gameplay in any number of superior shooters that actually allow you to power up your initially weak vessel into a powerful destructive force.

overdrive's avatar
Community review by overdrive (February 11, 2005)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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