The first thing that needs to be addressed here is that this game is titled after a 20-year-old IP (Intellectual Property). Along with a few fond memories of Tom Cruise macking on Kelly McGillis, this title choice should send up a few red flags. Why would anyone want to name a video game after a 20-year old movie that nobody cares about? Simply because a game titled “Top Gun” will sell more copies than if it were “Generic Crappy Fighter Jet: The Game”, even if the latter is far more accurate.If you’re not familiar with the movie Top Gun, here’s the lowdown: These guys fly jets, one falls in love with his teacher, his friend dies, The End. The only part that translates to this game is the jet flying part so let’s stick to that. Top Gun for the Nintendo DS allows you the privilege of flying multi-million dollar fighter jets for the US military, no strings attached. Doesn’t this sound too good to be true? Well it is!
The core gameplay works like this: a few objectives are offered through a text briefing (all of which include shooting things) and you’re off in your jet to shoot said things. The first three missions are training and will walk you through the basic controls, which are ultra simplistic. Ironically however you will most likely be confused because they left out the basics, like how to barrel roll, land, or refuel when you run out of gas. Chances are if they didn’t explain it in the training, it doesn’t exist in the game, even if by all rights it should be in there.
With that said while it would be easier to describe what this game does well it’s more entertaining and informative to list what it doesn’t do. The Nintendo DS game “Top Gun” does not let you: take off, land, refuel, customize weapons, perform stunt maneuvers, offer a cockpit view, use the touch screen in any meaningful way, elicit enjoyment on any level, or make you feel like you didn’t waste $30.
Seriously though, the exclusion of these features and others leave it feeling bland and unsatisfying. What’s left is a game where you fly toward the nearest bogey on the radar and shoot it down, avoiding enemy missiles if necessary. Without any strategy or alternate types of gameplay, everything becomes very monotonous and boring very quickly.
To start the game a pilot must be chosen. You’re choices are fan favorite Maverick, classic too cool for school Iceman, and the loveable, yet expendable Slider and Jester. Don’t waste too much time because your choice doesn’t make any difference, they all play exactly the same.
Next, chose your jet, there are three to pick from: an F-14 Tomcat, F-16, and the F/A-18 Hornet. All three models control about the same, which is to say if you’ve ever driven a school bus with 4 blown wheels through the middle of the desert there’s nothing new here. The missiles they carry may be slightly different, but this is only an assumption, as it’s never stated weather a discrepancy actually exists.
So with the Top Gun license, surely the game storyline follows that of the movie, or is a prequel or sequel in some respect, right? Actually much like everything I’ve explained already, there is no correlation. The story is ultra generic to the point of non-existence. Here’s a brief excerpt from the description of Mission 6, deep into our enthralling Top Gun journey: “”There’s a quarrel between two neighboring Middle East countries. One of the countries is trying to grab its neighbor’s oil fields…” How exciting! To specify which countries are ‘quarreling’ would deter from the running plotline ambiguity of Mission 4 and 5 where we have to save our buddy who has drifted into “enemy waters”. Who is this ‘enemy’, where are these ‘waters’? Details, who needs those? Besides, you’ll probably be too busy wondering when the game is going to stop sucking to even notice.
The graphics are decent, which is to say the three planes they had to model and the sky texture are well done. While the love is flowing, it’s worth mentioning that there is a good sense of speed with the aircraft. This would have been better utilized if you knew, or cared where you were going at any given point in time.
This game was never meant to be good. The developer didn’t try to make a good game and fail; they made a bad game on purpose, hoping the Top Gun brand name would sell enough of this excuse for a game to pay for their new Porsches.
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