06th Dec2017

Digital Shorts: ‘Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron, yet another shmup now available on the Nintendo Switch.


When Europe seemed to be freed, a secret German commando called The Aces of the Luftwaffe took their chance to strike back and invade the USA! It’s your duty to restore peace and liberty by climbing aboard deadly wings of steel and fight against their fearsome war machines in bombastic air battles… That’s the basic premise of Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron, a former mobile/PC game which has been ported to the Nintendo Switch in what can only be described as a “remastered” edition, improving the sound, graphics and even gameplay of the original.

Very much in the vein of classic arcade shmup 1942 and it’s sequels, Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron sees you play as a fighter pilot and his team (if you’re playing single player that is), in something of a bullet-hell shooter wannabe. Well, wannabe in as much as the bullets come fast and furious. la traditional Japanese hard-as-anils shmups – but there’s a LOT more to this game than the standard shoot ’em-up template would require. For one, the members of your squadron all have quirks and idiosyncrasies: which can manifest themselves as uncontrollable teammates, completely missing planes… Who knew pilots could be so scared of heights they won’t even fly at certain altitudes?

Now that may sound ridiculous, but the added pressure of having teammates randomly go missing or become uncontrollable, aometimes feeling like they’re working AGAINST you, adds an extra layer of interest, and difficulty, to proceedings. And it’s small touches like that, and the rather comical nature of the cutscenes, animatics and characters that makes Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron feel less like a Strikers 1945 wannabe and more of its own entity.

Graphically Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron looks very much like a mobile game, with bright, colourful and bold graphics – though why such as “basic” (for wont of a better word) game should warrant some of the lengthy load times seen here beggars belief; and whilst there’s plenty of bullet-hell style action, the game never takes a toll on the Switch’s resources. However the game DOES take a toll on the player – this is one game whose difficulty level seems to ramp up immensely as you get further into the story. So much so that you must, I repeat MUST level-up and upgrade your squadromn to even contemplate getting anywhere close to finishing the game!

The Nintendo Switch is swiftly becoming something of a magnet for the rebirth of the shmup and Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron is another fantastic entry into the burgeoning updating of the once-ubiquitous genre. Long may this renaissance continue.


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