I wanted to do this in November, but then work and laziness mixed into a toxic smoothie. So here we go now for December. On Tuesdays, I will have a post about games featuring the venerable and maintenance-heavy F-14 Tomcat. Not because I’m an Iranian sympathizer, but because I grew up with them flying over my head.
It’s really the same game, but they changed the title. I guess because over the course of 7 years kids forgot what “Turn and Burn” meant. Or maybe it’s because Nintendo wanted to continue misleading the public on how its first set of GBA games were just retitled remakes, like release title Super Mario Advance. Seriously, 14 or more of the games released in its first seven months were just ports, slight remakes, or collections.
What Is This Game?
It’s a flight simulator. A fun one, I should add. I’ve played others that were terrible (like a virtual reality one that got waaaay to realistic in that you had to have a real-life manual to run the plane, and F-22 Raptor for the Sega Genesis which is kind of slow and clunky). You pretend you are piloting an F-14. For those who don’t remember, they were a very needy plane that Iran still uses, being the only country to use them that wasn’t the United States. We got rid of ours because at the time (2006) we didn’t need them. Now we do, or rather we need a ship that has the same range and speed as a Tomcat. But maybe without the expense or high maintenance needs.
Of course the military has been getting away with wasteful idiotic and likely corrupt projects (like the F-35, the Bradley, and body armor that doesn’t work) or at-one-time worthwhile projects that work but end up being done in the most asinine corrupt way possible (like the F-22, the C-5, and buying hammers and toilet seats), and politicking and fraudulent accusations of fraud between services and with contractors has been laughably dangerous for our national security, so we’ll probably get a proper replacement for the Tomcat exactly 10 years after the next war, and it will only be half as good as it needs to be.
Back In The Game
You start each mission with a briefing telling you what you need to shoot down. Then you take off from USS America (which was retired 2 years after the game came out on the SNES. It looks like you still launch from her in the Game Boy Advance version despite this being 5 years after the carrier’s decommissioning, though when you takeoff the number is indecipherable and on the title screen it looks like the carrier is numbered with the rather unconventional “6E”). You’re in a first-person view all the way. When it shows the rear view of your character flying, that’s just looking through the rearview mirror. Yes, they had those.
While up in the air, you take on enemy planes, MiG-29s. This presents a problem in the GBA version as while the SNES keeps the enemy vague, on the GBA you are fighting China who never used the MiG-29. Later on, submarines appear on the map and send missiles at you- while you can use your countermeasures to get the missiles off your tail, you can’t do much about the subs, just like real F-14s which could only attack a sub if they could see it on the surface. Sometimes, you are given a special target, which basically ends up being you shooting at the ground. Let me explain: Mode 7 allows for certain effects, like how for landing on carriers in the game it looks like you’re flying at a blue wall with a picture of an aircraft carrier. Well, that dynamic is repeated when you attack a ground target (they just have you fly at a picture of the ground and shoot various points of interest on it) and when you attack a new surveillance plane (you just shoot sprites of propellers as you fly at the picture, also- I assume it’s either supposed to be a Yak-44 which never went into production and was probably classified at the time, or they just used an image of the American Hawkeye). I didn’t make it much farther than that into the game, but it’s probably safe to assume you have to do it to some other stuff too. I’m not criticizing the technique, I rather enjoy it.
The dogfighting in the game made me think of Star Fox 64. Maybe the visuals, cockpit view, and mechanics are why. Some instinct honed over years of playing that game and its 3DS remake told me “this is like that”. It seemed kind of fast-pace, I guess. Anyway, that’s entirely subjective, but I was impressed by the dogfighting and sensation of speed this game was able to provide.
You don’t have to dogfight, you can lock onto the enemy with one of three different types of missiles. Upon impact, in the little screen where your radar is, instead a small video clip from Top Gun plays that shows a plane getting hit by a missile. One possible clip is of an F-14 getting hit, the other possible clip is the one famously used by China where an F-5 is hit. This happens in both versions of the game.
I don’t know how it proceeds through the rest of the game since I didn’t bother getting far, but the first set of missions came as a group of four. Day, evening, night, sunrise. Kind of like Super Battletank.
Since I am but one person, I did not have a chance to sample the multiplayer modes.
Some bullet points:
- Bullets are blue on the GBA but yellow on the SNES
- GBA’s overall play field map does not show the whole area, unlike on the SNES.
- On the GBA version you takeoff from the front of the carrier, but then when it flips to the rear view your plane is seen taking off from the back of the carrier (which is physically impossible).
- GBA’s close-range radar screen is different
- The GBA game pits you against China, while on the SNES the enemy was not named though assumed to be Middle Eastern since the manual says you are in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Dogfighting was a lot harder on the GBA
- Of the two difficulties, novice and ace, the GBA version makes novice even easier than on the SNES. It takes off and lands the jet for you on the GBA novice setting, and when all the MiGs are destroyed you are immediately teleported back to the carrier for the landing sequence. On the SNES, you controlled takeoff and landing, and you had to find the carrier yourself on the novice setting.
- the multiplayer modes: for the SNES, your fellow player is your R.I.O. while on the GBA you instead deathmatch with up to three others.
I had some difficulty getting my copy to work. It might just be my copy, but it almost didn’t work on my DS lite and absolutely refused to work on my GameCube Game Boy Advance Player, this after the game had been cleaned.
It’s a great budget title if you like flying fighters and dogfighting. Some bits of it reminded of Super Battletank and Super Battletank 2 (I mention this because the tactical map in that game is similar to the one here), probably because the same company made those games. The GBA and SNES versions both ran about $5 (I think the GBA version might’ve been cheaper).
Addendum/Post Script/After The Fact/Super Hornet F/A-18F
Wow. This game is just… I knew Majesco was cheap, but damn! Basically, it’s the above two games but with an F/A-18 pasted over the F-14 stuff. It even does the same screwup that F-14 Tomcat does where you takeoff the carrier backwards. Instead of showing footage from Top Gun of exploding planes, to their credit they show different scenes. But otherwise, it is just a slight sprite update with some new terrain to fly over. Basically, it’s Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 to F-14/Turn And Burn’s Mortal Kombat 3. I had already completed the above post and was originally going to start a new post on this game, and set it for release in the new year, but it’s the same as the above two games so this seemed more appropriate. Plus, when F-14s weren’t flying over my head growing up it was F/A-18s (and when I went golfing the occasional EA-6 and E-2 flew by, and once an F-15 for some reason).
The game’s story is at least different, you’re now going against Iraq. Iraq used MiG-29s so keeping them as the enemy isn’t a problem. But there is a problem when you fight submarines and destroyers. Iraq didn’t have destroyers in 2004, and never had submarines. So I guess this rules out Iraq being the adversary in Turn And Burn.