The world’s most famous cartoon beagle is known for his delusional flights of fancy as he imagines himself in a Sopwith Camel during World War I facing off against his arch-enemy, the Red Baron. Smart Bomb Interactive smartly picked up the rights to the Peanuts characters and created an arcade flying game out of the concept in 2006 with Snoopy vs the Red Baron for the PS2. They’ve followed that up with a new game for Xbox LIVE called Snoopy Flying Ace that builds on what they previously created with an easy to jump in to single and multi-player game.
You will believe a Beagle can fly
Snoopy Flying Ace takes the world of WWI fighter planes and throws in a few twists and turns with exotic weapons and cartoon spins on locations like the Egyptian Sphinx and Paris through a small mix of single-player missions. You’ll fly through an obstacle course of electrified rings, protect bases and monuments from waves of the Red Baron’s Flying Circus in your bi-plane or in a turret, bomb enemy bases from a balloon, rescue Woodstock and his pals from aerial mine fields, or shoot down monster Zeppelins. Through it all a friend can jump in at any time to assist which is a big help in some of the more difficult missions where you’ll be significantly outnumbered.
That’s not to say that the game is particularly difficult. It’s almost impossible to crash your plane into the ground or into any objects unless you are very low on health. Instead, your plane will simply bounce and take a small health hit. And if you do die, you will simply respawn into the mission until you either complete or fail your objective. The hook that gets you to go back and play the missions over and over is to get the highest score possible and earn all the badges.
For a downloadable arcade game, the music of Snoopy Flying Ace is surprisingly good. There are only a couple of pieces but include a martial theme that fits the mood of the combat heavy levels and an ode to Vince Guaraldi that is very reminiscent of the music from the classic Charlie Brown cartoons. My favorite sound of the game though is the sound of Snoopy’s
The Beagle has landed
The single-player, while enjoyable, is but a warm-up to the meat of the multiplayer modes that will keep you coming back for more 16-player chaotic fun. The standard free-for-all and team-based modes are here along with capture the flag. However, Smartbomb added two unique and playful modes called Dog Pile and Pigskin. Dog Pile sees you protecting a bone from your opponents for two minutes while Pigskin is a game of football in the sky. The object is to pass the football around to your teammates and fly it through the goal posts for a score. While on defense you have to protect your endzone by shooting down the opposing team.
Multiplayer is mostly lag free and includes killstreak rewards like the ability to fly Snoopy’s doghouse or have Woodstock as your tailgunner for extra firepower. The ability to choose and customize the weapons for your planes means you can find combinations that work best for you. Planes fit into fast/lightly-armored, medium/moderately-armored, and slow/heavily-armored categories but the weapons are the true difference makers. You can choose from a number of weapons from different kinds of missiles, mines, and machine guns (my favorite is “Bring the Rain”).
While the game is well put together and and very accessible there are a couple of problems with the presentation. Despite the fact that the game uses the Peanut license you wouldn’t be able to tell outside of your own plane. Pilots in other planes may as well be characters from the Family Guy because you can’t see them while flying around, they don’t speak, and the text over the plane for the character’s name is almost unreadable.
Best in Show
Snoopy Flying Aces is quite possibly the most fun and enjoyable title to hit Xbox LIVE Arcade this year. The game is fun and easy to jump into but provides enough action to keep you coming back for more. At 800 MS Points ($10), this is one of those special LIVE Arcade games that makes you feel like you are getting more than you paid for because of the quality and personality along with the unique multiplayer modes.
Final Score: 90/100
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