Stepping into the world of Biplane Baron is a rather like stepping into a time machine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take you back to the heady days of twin-winged dogfighting in World War I as the developer intended. Instead, it transports the player back two decades, to a time of 16-bit home computing…
Okay, so this is a remake of an old Atari ST side-scrolling shooter, but we’d have expected the aesthetics to have benefited from a more substantial makeover. As it is, it feels like you’ve been plunged back into the late eighties, courtesy of some painfully poor graphics. Stuck-on looking planes and artillery guns scroll jerkily by, to the accompaniment of an awful plinky-plonky version of Ride of the Valkyries.
This 2D side-scroller’s basic controls only allow you to adjust your plane’s speed and height using the arrow keys. The Control and Shift keys can be held down to execute clunky turns and loops, which make dogfighting less than intuitive. The bomb key is also in the middle of the keyboard and can’t be redefined, so trying to drop a payload is an awkward exercise in attempting to stretch your fingers here and there.
Playing the game
The game’s eight missions irritate in equal measure, although the dogfighting scenarios are easier due to the below-par enemy pilot AI. Low-flying sorties are far trickier, due to flak guns which unleash punishing salvos of shellfire that can be difficult to evade.
Still, should you complete an arduous bombing run, rest assured that there’s a good chance the ridiculously bobbins landing physics will make you spear your kite into the ground past the runway, anyhow.
There is a two-player mode – but offering someone a game of Biplane Barons is a bit like suggesting a go on the Waltzers after you’ve necked eight pints of lager and three bags of candyfloss. We’d be surprised if you could find anyone willing to share either experience.
Company: Xing Interactive