Air Strike Patrol

Air Strike Patrol

Ah, to be a pilot in the Gulf War, where I could blow up everything in sight!  Well, if you’ve ever had that wish, Air Strike Patrol is here to fulfill that particular American fetish.  But, if you did have that wish… Dude… Seriously… You need to get out more.  Sad.

ASP tries to capture not just the mechanics of flying around and blowing everything up, cause, obviously, all F16s are equipped with SNES joypads to control them; but also tries to capture the world environment surrounding the Gulf War.  And it’s kinda cute, in a nostalgic, reminiscing kind of way.

Unfortunately, the game suffers fro a severe case of suckitis, specifically in the case of the UI design.  I’ve seen microwaves with better UI design.  The interface for the launching of games is so confusing and unclear that it took me a good 10 minutes to figure out how to actually start a round.

Once in the cockpit (hehe, cock), you fly around looking for your mission objective to blow up.  Your plane has two speeds: crawling in the air, and way too fucking fast.  What’s worse is that it really reveals the sprite scrolling limitations of the SNES. When flying horizontally, you move ridiculously fast.  When flying vertically, you inch along like a snail, only with wings.  Slow, snail-like wings.  It’s very strange.

Then there is the missile lock on system.  Your weapons are so well calibrated that they’ll lock on to everything that moves.  Except most of your mission targets are /stationary/.  That’s right.  You can lock on to tanks, civilians, trucks, missile launchers, but not a radar tower, or an oil tank.  Or, you know, MIGs.  Can’t lock on to those either.  What’s best is that the lock-on is automatic!  And, your lock-on system is so refined that it will lock on to UN troops too!  Ohhhhh, but it flashes a warning before you accidentally blow them up.  And what’s your punishment?  At the end of your mission run, GNN news (real clever) forces you to watch a special report on protects against civilian casualties and problems with friendly fire.  Boo. Hoo.  What a pain in the ass.

The long and the short is that the game looks like an attempt at competing with the Genesis’ contemporary Desert Strike, which didn’t suck donkey balls.  The actual missions are fine, once you figure out the awkward controls and learn to only fire when you /don’t/ have a missile lock.  The UI is so painful, it makes you want to smash your controller on the ground.

ASP User Interface - Yes, it blows.
ASP User Interface - Yes, it blows.

Oh, let’s not forget the logical mission flow.  You fly until you run out of fuel.  Then what do you do?  Land?  No, no.  Fly some more until you /fly out of the zone/.  Obviously that’s how you deal with a fuel shortage.  You make it back to base every time.  Somehow.

Verdict:  I’ve played worse games, but if you spent cash on this game, even as a child, you’d be annoyed.  The action is kinda sad.  The music is repetitive.  The controls are awkward.  The meager sense of accomplishment you get from completing one mission is pretty much completely overshadowed by the 20 minutes you spend pushing buttons to try to get to the next mission.

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