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Snoopy Flying Ace Review Xbox Live Arcade

by William Schwartz

You can’t have aerial dogfighting without the dog! Join Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the Peanuts gang in the premier online flight shooter on Xbox LIVE® Arcade, Snoopy Flying Ace. With simple flight controls and a hangar full of customizable planes and weapons, all you need are nerves of steel to climb the Leaderboards and become a Flying Ace! Snoopy Flying Ace takes addictive, fast-paced airborne combat to new heights, with fantastic solo and co-op challenges testing your skills against the Flying Circus of the dreaded Red Baron. Remember, it ain’t the size of the dog in the fight … it’s the size of the fight in the dog!

If titles like Battlefield 1943 and Shadow Complex have taught us anything about what we should or should not expect from games that release under the Xbox Live Arcade brand, it’s that we should never underestimate a game because it costs less than it’s disk based counterparts.  Snoopy Flying Ace has recently released on Xbox Live and it’s hard not to quickly file this title among one of the elite games that are available for download on the service.  Objectively, I loaded up Flying Ace for the first time and decided to hop in and play multiplayer first.  Choosing a Quick Match, I was quickly dumped into a room with 15 other players in a team based “deathmatch” gametype.  Not knowing anything, not even the controls I was shot down…alot.  How could I avoid it, there was so much action going on in the fairly large and sprawling map.  There were players shooting from turrets, a seemingly large number of powerups flying across the map and my first impression was ” this is chaos”.  Then the learning curve started, Snoopy Flying Ace is surprisingly deep considering that its a fairly simple concept.  Don’t let the cartoon aspect of the title fool you, or you will be spending more time in your parachute than in your plane.  There are  15 different weapons to choose from, and you are given the option to select two of these.  They all have different effects some that will lock on to your target from a distance, others with short range power, there is even the equivalent of an aerial melee powerup.  Couple these powerups with the 16 available planes which all vary in their handling and speed and durability attributes and you have alot of customizable options that can lead to your success or failure in the skies.  Also customizable is the clearly visible pilot of your plane.  You can choose between many of the characters from the world of Peanuts or take to the fight with your Xbox Live Avatar.  On top of all of these customizations there are a good amount of gametypes to be played in Snoopy Flying Ace Multiplayer and the online community is already bustling with activity on only its second day.

If the creator of Peanuts, Charles Schulz was still alive, I find it hard to believe he would not be anything but pleased with how Snoopy Flying Ace turned out.   Schulz’s creation of Snoopy and one of his alter ego’s in the comic strip Peanuts was that of a WWI “Flying Ace”.  In the comic  he would do battle with his arch nemesis, The Red Baron.  Though in the comic strip Snoopy would climb to the top of his doghouse to  fight these battles,  the game actually takes you into this fantasy world.  Which is fairly evident by some of the markings in the maps of the game.  The Snoopy Statues in L’Barrage the Snoopy shaped Sphinx in Sand Sphinx all show that not only was the developer conscious of Schulz’s original vision but paid homage to creator who passed away in 2000.

Aesthetically Snoopy Flying Ace is a beautiful title.  The maps are vibrant in themselves with lush scenery, that is only complimented by the other action on the screen be it in the form of powerups, tracers, or smoke from the planes themselves.  Throw in the parachuting cartoon characters  from the comic strip and it really is a marvelous title visually.  At many times I found myself startled by the quality of the game considering that it was only $10.00.

If you’re not into getting your butt kicked right away.  There is a competent single player campaign in the title as well, albeit short. It can teach you the how to play the game, the basics, and get you acclimated to the controls.  However, there wasn’t much depth in the story, and you can complete it fairly quickly.  Brightside: If you do you can unlock Avatar Awards.

The one major gripe I had with Snoopy Flying Ace were some of the control issues.  There are alot of instances where you will either collide with a plane or an immovable object.  I found it hard to recover from these situations and would much rather have just “died”.  Which brings me to another point that might have been overlooked by the developers.  The one thing I noticed and this might be the biggest wuss thing I have ever said, is why they would use the term “killed” in a Peanuts game.  When you do get shot down in Snoopy Flying Ace a screen comes up to show you who you were shot down by who and with what weapon followed by a big  “XXX Killed YOU” text block.  It feels out of place and probably was just overlooked as nothing really ever dies in Snoopy Flying Ace as you get shot down and parachute to safety.

There are some distinguishing characteristics that immediately make Snoopy Flying Ace lovable and fun.  It’s fairly easy to pick up and play, the graphics are great, the presentation is well done, even the music fits the tone of the game extremely well.  It’s one of the more polished titles on the Xbox Live Arcade and leaves you questioning why there aren’t more games that hit this sweet spot, offering gamers a fun polished game with a ton of replay while coming in at  low price. For 800 Microsoft Points you’ll be hard pressed to find an equivalent value.  If you enjoyed Crimson Skies, or HAWX just isn’t your speed, or just like mixing it up in a friendly yet competitive environment Snoopy Flying Ace is definitely worth a shot.  But don’t just take our word for it, check out the demo and you’ll likely feel the same way.

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Snoopy Flying Ace

  • Available On: Xbox 360
  • Published By: Microsoft Game Studios
  • Developed By: Smart Bomb Interactive
  • Genre: Arcade
  • US Release Date: June 2010
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "There are some distinguishing characteristics that immediately make Snoopy Flying Ace lovable and fun. It’s fairly easy to pick up and play, the graphics are great, the presentation is well done, even the music fits the tone of the game extremely well"
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