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Luftrausers Review

Nostalgic thoughts ripple across me in waves within seconds of starting Luftrausers on the PS Vita, the faux monochrome visuals and retro soundtrack quickly taking me back to the days of keeping plenty of spare AA batteries to hand.

Vlambeers previous titles, Super Crate Box (also on PS Vita) was also a "retro" classic, taking the basic premise of a single screen platformer and adding hundreds of guns to it and Luftrausers offers a similar idea, this time playing more like arcade classic Asteroids’, but yet again with some serious firepower included.

In Luftrausers you take to the skies in what appears to be a jet propelled rocket with wings, literally launched from a submarine into fierce enemy waters. Your controls are a little fiddly at first, with you either throttling it for high speed dog fights or using short bursts and playing with gravity to dance around the beautiful monochrome sky. This strange approach to air warfare does take a little time to het to grips with, thankfully the game; even with the game stacking all odds against you it does give you a fighting chance by allowing your plane to have relative free reign of the skies and the sea with you only taking small amounts of damage when venturing too high into the clouds or taking a dip in the sea.

Buffeting around the clouds, your main aim is to score as much as possible in a relatively short time as the game will throw everything at you, from fighter jets, ace pilots, gunships, huge battleships and a few other surprises in store, games will often last no longer than a minute making this a very intense high score game.

As you play and level up more and more mods become available, with a total of 125 possible combinations for you perusal, switching in the hanger from three main categories, the engine, the body and the weaponry and choosing from submarine fittings that take less damage when you dive into the sea, bombs, multi launch missiles, lasers, jet boosters, antigravity hover packs and the nuke that sets off a huge explosion you die, taking out everything else on screen with you earning a huge score bonus during your death throes. All of the these mods are unlocked as and when you rank up, with each mod also having a variety of challenges attached to them, making you really think about how you are approaching each battle with kill limits, combo kills or more technical challenges like killing 30 enemies without taking the finger of the trigger, difficult as taking a breather from shooting is the only time your shields recharge.

Though the visuals have taken a very handheld retro approach with artwork making clever use of a trio of colours that make up the palette, creating memorable characters and some ferocious battles, the action would never have been possible on the old machines, with just so much going on, it can get hard to tell if you have survived a bombing run at times with all of the explosions and screen shakes going on in front of you; seeing your little plane limp out of a ferocious battle with a slither of health is a heart wrenching thing.

The quick play arcade style is ideal for the PS Vita, grabbing a few minutes here and there and the challenges really add a little more depth to the shoot-em-up action, making Luftrausers well worth the asking price.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS Vita)


+ Classic arcade action with more depth.
+ Loads of combinations of planes to create.
+ Addictive high score challenges.


- Don’t be put off by the “simplistic” visuals

Edited On 20 Mar, 2014

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