A throwback to the days of Afterburner and Star Fox, Sierra’s latest Live Arcade title ranks amongst the best the service has to offer. Aces of the Galaxy is a frantic space dogfight, intense to the extreme and gorgeous to all who view it.
From a third person behind the ship viewpoint, players traverse through space with the goal of evading the enemy. It’s a small twist, and if you skip the cinematics you wouldn’t know the difference. However, at least it adds some differentiating factor to the proceedings.
Aces is undeniably unfair. Bullets, particle effects, explosions, and more litter the screen. It’s nearly impossible not to be hit at times. The default controls are too touchy and will need to be lowered to find that perfect spot to get into the action.
Three weapons are at the players disposal, delivering various forms of destruction. The lock on missiles and cannons are pulled directly from Afterburner. Torpedoes are likewise unoriginal, but the beauty of their fire trails after they’re launched means innovation is the last thing on your mind. Auto fire for the cannons would have been welcomed, and not just to save your thumbs from eventual carpal tunnel, but to make it easier to fire rockets simultaneously.
There are 23 levels in total, and each time out, you can select a different path through one of three courses. You’ll never see every level on a single play through, and grabbing a purple power-up during the war is the way to choose which battle you take part in next. Everything is available in co-op play as well, which is offered on and offline.
What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in sheer beauty and action. Aces amazingly fits into a small sub 50MB download and to drag out the cliché, never judge an item by the size of its package. This is a guaranteed Live Arcade hit.