There are a lot of shoot-em-ups (SHMUP) on the Switch in its young life. Some of them, like RIVE and Sine Mora Ex, are ports. Then there are little gems like Aces of the Luftwaffe: Squadron which come out of nowhere as enjoyable and deep SHMUP experiences. Sure it’s visuals may be a little simplistic, and its heavily-accented euro-English voiceover work may not be the best in class. But what it lacks in production values, Aces of the Luftwaffe more than makes up for in pure solo and co-op fun.
In single player, you control the entire squadron of Aces as they strike back against a Germany that didn’t go down at the end of WWII (see also: Wolfenstein 2). While in co-op mode, the action is more hectic and insanely fun as you and your friends take the role of one Ace each. While Aces may be best played with friends, don’t let it deter you if you like to go it solo. The gameplay in single player mode is just as fun, as you control the squadron as a whole, and sometimes your mates run off and make things interesting when they go into a blind rage, get air-sick, or find themselves suddenly afraid of heights.
Aces tries hard to give each of the four pilots their own personality, and while the writing and VO is wooden, the intent is there and it works to make each one unique. Add in the fact that they all have their own skills, pros, and cons and you’ll likely have to argue with your friends over who plays as who. When playing solo, it’ll take a long time to level up and get new skills for all four pilots, which adds to the replay value. I wound up focusing on the lead pilot, who you directly control at the head of the pack. You also unlock new aircraft which have their own ups and downs too, adding in another layer to the replay value and sense of progression throughout the game.
The game really shines with friends, but Aces of the Luftwaffe is perfectly enjoyable, with a nice long campaign to boot. For $15 USD, you’d be hardpressed to find a better SHMUP on the Switch, or anywhere. Recommended.
Final Score: 8/10
- Great controls
- Solid and varied level design
- Loads of progression and replay value
- Bad voice acting and writing
- Visuals are a bit bland