Top Gun was a pop culture phenomenon in the 1980s. There’s no debating that. Hell, it’s what turned Tom Cruise into a superstar, and maybe what put him on the road to crazytown.
From a gaming standpoint, it even spawned a decent combat flight simulator for its time, an eponymous title for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Paramount provides an update to the Top Gun name on the iPhone, and it does a great job capturing our nostalgia in a pretty good combat flight sim. It’s just about everything we would expect of a Top Gun title, minus the beach volleyball and a capella scenes.
And no Goose. Goose is still dead.
The game picks up a few years after the movie, with Maverick and Iceman now running the Top Gun flight school. Featuring some truly cheesy dialogue, your cadet is training to fight the commies, which probably dates this game toward the Cold War.
Missions range from the basic training to some of the hairiest dogfights we’ve seen in a combat flight sim. At 10 missions, the game may seem short, but the challenge of the dogfights is enough to make them a little more involved than one might expect. Like its NES predecessor, it’s pretty much a flight sim on rails, but there’s plenty of bogies to keep things interesting.
Flight controls are processed through the accelerometer, with the calibration handled automatically on startup. It can be manually reconfigured should you change positions, but we wouldn’t really recommend you play this game in anything other than a seated position. The jet responds perfectly, and is much better at acute aiming compared to similar titles, such as Iron Man. Weapons are a limited to a machine gun and locking missiles.
The aerial combat, overall, is pretty basic, but the combination of both the missiles and guns works well. There may be a tendency to overuse the missiles due to their locking ability, but the reload time keeps their obvious advantage in check. The machine guns aren’t too shabby, either, requiring a little bit of fine tuning rather than just “spray and pray.”
There’s no question that the corniness factor for this game is through the roof. Each mission opens with Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone.” No, seriously! We’re not sure if using that song is meant to be ironic, but it’s truly an auditory marvel on par with this. Of course, there are other songs — an option to put DZ on loop would just be too much awesome for anyone to handle, clearly. When flying, incoming fire is labeled as the “Danger Zone,” which you obviously want to avoid. That is, unless you’re… dangerous.
For the most part, this is a complete package for a combat flight sim. There could be a little more depth to the gameplay, like the landing or refueling challenges in the NES game, but it’s really just a minor complaint when you factor in the stellar production values and top-notch presentation. At $1.99, you can’t go wrong with this incarnation of Top Gun.