This was a pretty amazing resurrection for me. Wings of Fury was a classic Apple // game that ranked as one of my favorites during Apple's // series heyday. To my knowledge, it was never released on any other platform. (EDIT: Wrong! It was!) I guess somebody still wants to make money from the license, and porting old computer games to the Game Boy is the current hot handheld trend.
And it's a great idea... these old games require very little memory (I think Wings of Fury on GBC is around 70k), very simple graphics, and can cash in on some serious nostalgia from the 18 to 35 crowd. Get ready for Prince of Persia, Deja Vu, Spy vs. Spy and other classics on your 'Boy, looking exactly as they did 15 years ago. Nintendo - in a similarly wise move - is releasing old 8-bit NES games for the Game Boy, starting with the seminal Mario game, Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario on Game Boy Color is a treat. Nintendo has packed the cart with a huge amount of bonus extras. All the multiple levels from the original are intact, along with special race levels, a vs. mode, a teeny Mario print shop, a calendar, a fortune teller... even an odd little music generator.
That kind of lavish attention, done to breathe new life into an old game, was what I was hoping to see in the "new" adaptation of Wings of Fury. Maybe some advanced levels... new types of enemy planes... a gallery of WWII dogfighting images... the ability to play as a Japanese zero... a little something extra to warrant the purchase of a game that I already know inside and out.
I was disappointed. Although this Wings of Fury does tweak/alter some elements from the original, it doesn't have the kind of expansion I had hoped for. The retail price is around $30, which I consider kind of pricy for a game of this depth. (After seeing Prince of Persia retail for $20, I had high - cheap - hopes for WoF. No such luck.) For $30, you should at least get a vs. mode!
The changes that you do get are interesting, but not mind blowing. Your Hellcat F6F now sports a couple of new barnstorming tricks... barrel rolls and S-swoops to evade enemy fire. The japanese soldiers are gone, replaced by the always-moving jeep. One of the singular visceral joys of the first Wings was the ability to machine gun soldiers during a strafing run. Now, you strafe very little, since your machine guns aren't likely to blow up anything. The jeep performs the same game function as the soldiers: re-activating destroyed ack-ack nests. The little flag guy on your carrier's deck is gone too.
When you die, you get a digital rendition of every war-era parent's nightmare: the "Your son died serving his country" letter. Show it to your Mom.
The zero AI remains the same... they're tough to shake at first, always maneuvering behind you and gunning you down. Just do a couple of mid-air circles. Number one, they can't shoot you when you're turning. Number two, after three passes, they invaribly break and take off, letting you get behind them.
However, the viewable screen size seems cropped from the Apple // edition, so dogfighting is best done in the far-away viewpoint. In the close-up view, you can't always see how the zero is circling you. Also, the miniature forward view is missing from your gauges, so it's tough to tell when you're approaching ships or islands. I'd forgotten how handy that little cockpit was for landing on your carrier.
Perhaps the single most valuable addition is the checklist screen. Now you know exactly who is left for you to exterminate.
The average mission lasts ten minutes, and you get a new numerical password after each one (what about a save feature?!?!?) Jaded gamers may tire of the repetitious levels, but you have to keep in mind the nature of the game; it's from a different gaming era, when the emphasis was on the gameplay, not the level structure.
I do enjoy the game. I just wish they would have done more with it.