Back in the old days, certain hardcore gamers went crazy for a particular type of arcade game affectionately referred to as a shmup (short for ‘shoot ‘˜em ups’). There were horizontal scrolling examples like R-Type, Gradius, and Darius, and the vertical scrollers like Capcom’s illustrious 1942 series. Fans of shmups used to have to skulk their gaming import store of choice or rely on the slim pickings officially released in the States to get them on their PlayStation, SNES, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, and other consoles.
So it’s somewhat amusing that the genre has such a healthy presence on the iPhone. R-Type, 1942: First Strike, Tyrian, Sky Force, and a ton of other similar games are just waiting for you to download– most for barely more than it cost to play the original games in the arcade. The latest in the line is Liberty Wings, a blatant clone of Capcom’s WW2-themed 194x series.
For the usual price of 99 cents, gamers can relive the glory days of coin-op shooters from the 80’s and 90’s in this clone. Just don’t expect too much. Liberty Wings isn’t a bad example of a clone, but it doesn’t aspire to be much more, either.
The visuals are nearly picture perfect copies to the old 1942 arcade game. You fly a retro WW2-looking fighter through the unfriendly skies, destroying other retro planes, battleships, tanks, trucks, and occasionally heavy duty boss vehicles. Liberty Wings spends most of its time in vertical scrolling mode, though it does break this up with some side scrolling bombing runs. Like most of these games on the iPhone, in vertical mode your plane constantly shoots automatically and you can either slide your finger or tap around to move the plane, or use the tilt functions of the phone.
Frankly, neither control scheme really conveys a proper old school feel. In Liberty Wings, the ship fires a bit too slowly and weapons, even when powered up, feel weak. The visuals lack any real punch, too. When you destroy a plane, it just suddenly falls out of the sky with little fanfare, and all the destruction just seems too utilitarian.
Welcome… to Jurassic Park.
Liberty Wings can certainly be challenging though. There’s a lot of bullet action going on and plenty of obstacles to destroy. Over the course of 12 levels, the game offers up a variety of terrain as well, over sea, sand, snow, and islands.
It’s hard to ding Liberty Wings too much for its shortcomings, given that it’s just a buck (and available for free today). Just the same, while the inclusion of multiple play stylings and decent length are great, the action still feels a bit too slow and underwhelming. If you need a new shooter, this is an easy buy, but there are certainly more technically and visually impressive choices in the App Store.