A little bit peeved that Iron Wings was not the officially licensed game of the Iron Eagle series, that intense hatred towards NAPS Team soon subsided when it transpired that the game is actually alright.
Iron Wings takes place during World War II (1939 to 1945 – FACT), and you play one of two pilots; Jack, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and Amelia from the WASPS. Nothing to do with Marvel.
Now, if you’ve put two and two together, you might conclude four, and that Iron Wings is a flight-based game. Congratulations, it is. While there are plenty of decent flight simulators out there, this errs more on an arcade aesthetic, aimed for the more casual player or those who can’t be arsed with gaining a license before take-off.
Iron Wings Review
That’s not to say that you can jump in willy-nilly. Before you get to blast those Nazi scum (the suffix is a given, right?), you have to learn how to fly the planes first.
For Jack, his introduction is a simple one; a public air show to reinforce the presence of the air force, but also test out the equipment. Flight is simple as it’s like playing an arcade game, but the planes still move with grace. Unlike similar titles, the aircraft in Iron Wings use a few gimmicks such as tuning into radio waves or taking pictures as if the prototype of Lockheed’s Blackbird.
The radio wave trick involves locking onto a target and flying within proximity until you bleed all the intelligence. This initially proves complex as you have to be pretty nimble to both fly your plane and use the right stick to tune into the frequency and hold it there. In handheld mode on the Switch, this got quite uncomfortable, so I spread my wings (eh, eh?) and switched (again) to the pro controller for comfort reasons.
Amelia’s introduction was a little more annoying as you have to put out fires and take photos of poultry. Well, not entirely accurate, but it’s farm-based, and you’re in a biplane. Again, the controls are quite tricky switching to the various features, but by the third mission or so, you’ll get used to it, as you will with the combat camera that zooms in on a target and the AI autopilots your plane.
I’m playing this down as at the time of playing the tutorials I was going crazy at how difficult it felt. It may have taken something like ten attempts to get past Amelia’s section, which for a tutorial really did suck arse.
Earn Your Iron Wings
Having the underrepresented minorities in World War II was a good approach as everyone played their part, but as we know, history tends to be a little biased in relaying back who did what. But Iron Wings isn’t historically accurate – it’s not that kind of game. I note that some geeky types have mentioned that a lot of the planes weren’t built right, or they got their zodiac sign wrong.
A more relatable couple of criticisms for gamers rather than historians would be the cutscenes. As a fan of cutscenes from back in the day of the original Final Fantasy VII, I gorge on them and seldom skip, but there was something quite rigid about the acting. Visually, I liked it. Setpieces were dramatic and applied a few aesthetically pleasing filters, but felt a little too disconnected on the human side. 1010110110.
Another aspect that will perhaps put you off is the sluggish controls. As a World War II setting, the planes in Iron Wings move slowly, equally their turning circle resembles a bus doing doughnuts in the parking lot after a sleepless night – it’s slow. This didn’t bother me so much as I could be a bit more strategic, switch between the other character to complete objectives before hitting the deck, and just going at a more leisurely pace.
But, and a Nicki Minaj Anaconda butt, there are timed sections, and they’re an absolute schweinhund. As a result, I had to redo levels again and again due to a lack of planning. If you can visualise an almost flawless plan, you’ll be alright, but there’s not much room for error, and it can feel like an age to get the plane to respond to how you see fit.
Overall, Iron Wings is an inoffensive arcade title that is worth playing on the Nintendo Switch. Sure, the graphics can be a bit ropey, and the controls are sluggish, but once you’re up in the air, it’s quite a chilling experience. Until the timer kicks in and the plane decides it will turn when it wants to turn and not before.