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F-15 City Wars (NES) artwork

F-15 City Wars (NES) review

"I got new socks today! They're all nice and bright white and so warm and comfy and everything. See, my old socks were getting a bit worn, so I had to get new ones. Isn't that neat? No? So why am I telling you all this? I suppose I could relate my experiences with F-15 City Wars, a rather obscure NES game I played, instead. But in all honesty, I found the socks to be more exciting. "

I got new socks today! They're all nice and bright white and so warm and comfy and everything. See, my old socks were getting a bit worn, so I had to get new ones. Isn't that neat? No? So why am I telling you all this? I suppose I could relate my experiences with F-15 City Wars, a rather obscure NES game I played, instead. But in all honesty, I found the socks to be more exciting.

But since this isn't HonestSocks, let's talk about the game. Needless to say, you're in an F-15 trying to save the world. I think. Level one is set in a third person perspective (think Mario Kart, or perhaps Star Fox is a better analogy) flying down a street. Buildings line either side, creating some semblance of perspective. So let's check out your arsenal. Press B to fire a missile that slides along the ground or A to fire your gun. Except the Navy skimped, and automatic firing just isn't available on your state of the art jet, so you'll have to repeatedly press A. And it takes forever to reload. In any case, tanks are barreling down the street toward you in a horrible mockery of sprite scaling. In reality, they sort of jump through four different points and then leave the screen in a hurry, firing off one pathetic little shot in the process. And some helicopters fly toward you as well, apparently attempting (and failing) to ram you. And lets not forget the enemy fighter pilots who just fly around without posing any danger whatsoever.

Can you picture this? Ten tanks come at you at once. You cannot kill all of them, as it takes too long for your missiles to reload. That's ok though, because they're only on the screen for a second before they're gone, and pose very little threat anyways. They'll fire a shot directly at you, so as long as you keep moving you'll never get hit. Of course, that means you can't just sit still to line up shots, so you'll be killing even less of them than the maximum. Meanwhile, the helicopters will just slowly move up towards the front of the screen, giving you ample time to shoot them down at your leisure. And the planes are entirely harmless, and are only there to give you something to shoot at. These all come at you in predictable patterns, never combining two different types of enemies or shaking up the formula in any way. And this level lasts for four whole minutes of this monotony.

Ah, but now you get to a boss fight. A giant battleship is in the background (wait, weren't you just in the middle of a city?), with all of its many guns pointed directly at you. Now here's a battle that won't be so easy, right? Surely you will have to pull out all your tactical knowledge and quick reflexes here. Or you can just use my strategy: fly in a figure eight and just mash the A and B buttons. The battleship will go down before you know it, and you won't even have to worry about dodging anything. Once again, the enemy just shoots at your last known position, so all you have to do is keep moving and you're completely safe. My, what an exciting game.

Now it's off to level two, which is much different. Not better, but different. Suddenly the sequence changes to a 1942-esque vertical shooter, except that it's slow as molasses. Your state of the art supersonic jet crawls across the screen as if it was afraid to move, and the game scrolls so slowly it's a wonder the jet can stay aloft at all. Once again, you'll be attacked by kamikaze helicopters that don't fire at you, and once again they'll be easy to dispose of. But instead of tanks, you'll have boats to attack. Yet again, your pathetic little missiles will only fire one at a time and slowly amble towards their targets. As you might expect, the boats don't pose too much in the way of challenge as they slowly fire one shot at you. Slow enemies, slow jet, slow bullets; I keep wondering if this game is just experiencing massive slowdown. But no, that's really as fast as it goes. At least this mode is slightly more difficult than the yawn-inducing first level, but still no fun is to be found here. Just an endless sea of pointless enemies.

Suddenly, in the midst of all that, um, excitement of level 2, you're wisked away to the third level. There's no boss, no transition, no cut scene, nothing. One instance you're in 1942-on-valium, the next you're back to third person view. Hey, those two lines of programming take time, you know. In any case, you find yourself flying down the Death Star Trench this time. At least, that's what I think it is. The sky's all black, there's walls lining the sides, and occasionally there are bars running across the screen that you can crash into. And the planes all look like TIE Fighters now. Yeah, I wish I could say I was making this up, but it's all true. I don't understand it anymore than you do. In any case, except for the bars across the screen that you can see a mile away, this level's pretty much the same as the first one. Yippee.

And now look, a boss! This time you get to fight a giant tank. Seriously, it's got to be about ten stories tall. So how do you fight such a behemoth? The ever popular "fly around and mash buttons" option will work just fine, so why switch strategies? Not much of a boss now, is it?

Finally, the game gets difficult after this. You have more enemies, more bullets, and more things happening at once. Oh goody, an actual reason to play! Or at least it would be, if it wasn't for the fact that it's coupled with the same control problems as before. Yep, you are once again in the 1942 mode, as slow and unresponsive as before. And really, being somewhat challenging can't save a game if its fundamental mechanics are awful. So whereas it's nice to know the programmers did finally get around to giving you something to focus on, it only makes this level frustrating. And it can't save the three levels before it anyways. Besides, it doesn't last forever. Once again you are suddenly thrown back into third person perspective with all of the spectacular transitional effects as last time. Level 5 is just as boring and uneventful as 1 and 3 were.

And we end with one final boss battle, against a giant bomber or something. Anyone care to guess how I beat it? Come now, did you honestly expect anything different?

So needless to say, this game's pathetic. In fact, about the only thing good I can say about it is that it's short enough that I managed to beat it before being bored to sleep. And it's not like it's one of those atrocious games everyone makes fun of. It's just... boring to the extreme. It's not even interesting enough to look at out of morbid curiosity. So if you ever see this in a flea market or used game shop somewhere, just skip it. Buy some socks instead.

mariner's avatar
Community review by mariner (June 12, 2005)

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