Red Wings on Switch is Dope! (Review)

May 21, 2020

Red Wings: Aces of the Sky surprised me with its easy controls and brief and fun missions. I am not an expert of the First World War, so I will not comment on the accuracy of the story presented in Red Wings. Do note the game is positioned as based on historical events centered around Manfred von Richthofen— The Red Baron. He is credited with 80 victories during the Great War. Red Wings is an aerial shooter with good controls, fun replay options, and great graphics on the Switch. There are a few flaws, in my opinion, but they should not keep you from picking up Red Wings if you enjoy aerial shooters.

Here is the down and dirty on why the game is so dope:

  • Targeting enemies is not difficult – but the game isn’t easy
  • After a brief tutorial your core skills are unlocked
    • barrel roll
    • Quick comeback
    • Fatal Takedown
    • Call squadron
  • Missions are not too long and you can replay them at any time to earn more stars – your currency for upgrading and unlocking skills
  • There are 10 warplanes and multiple skins to unlock and they vary enough to matter but not so much that some are useless

Dog fighting is what the game is ultimately about, and it is an absolute blast.

The story is presented with a comic-book style that blends well with the gameplay presentation, which is cel shaded. Dog fighting is what the game is ultimately about, and it’s an absolute blast. The four core skills are made available for the first mission, and two of them are absolutely necessary to survive a dog fight: quick comeback and barrel roll. The former allows you to quickly turn around while the latter provides an evasion from incoming enemy fire. You will find yourself zooming past enemies and a quick comeback be the difference between a 1 or 2-star rating. Some enemy types, such as balloons, will call in reinforcements when destroyed. In which case you may be flying away from multiple enemies and a barrel roll will allow you to evade their incoming fire for a few seconds while you fly into a safer position.

There are some restrictions on your freedom of flight. You cannot fly too high or too low. But there is enough open sky to intentionally maneuver into a favorable attack position against small squadrons. As for single-enemy combat, you may find yourself frustrated within the first 20 or so missions, as the planes you have access to have guns sensitive to over-heating. But after you upgrade and unlock certain planes, it becomes a non issue. Something I appreciate is how enemies with low health let off a trail of smoke. You can use this to track them down and finish the job. During missions you may find yourself catching a glimpse of the killer scenary in the sky. I especially love seeing the aurora borealis – screenshot below.

With 50 missions available, you may be wondering how the game can hold up. The mission objectives and structure vary, although I am not a huge fan of the non-dogfighting modes. There is a non-combat mission type where you fly through rings to refuel your plane. I found this mission boring. Another type is where you’re in a bomber and drop bombs onto targets on the ground. The bomber is slow and the missions are trivial. Of course, no game is without flaws. Without question the biggest frustration I have with Red Wings is how too easily you can die from a collision with another plane. This never happened to me with friendly planes. Yet, countless times I died by collision when I was 90-99% done with a 10+ minute mission. Super frustrating and unavoidable, near as I can tell.