hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

RetRose Tinted: Top Gun

4:00 PM on 04.28.2009 // Conrad Zimmerman
  @ConradZimmerman

A critical eye takes time to develop. RetRose Tinted is a regular column in which I re-examine games of yesteryear to see if my memories of them live up to the reality.

I have a love/hate relationship with Top Gun. Okay, maybe "love" is too strong of a word but it's a fairly solid flick. Sadly, I had a roommate in college who would turn the movie on to have in the background as he went to sleep. This happened every night for an entire semester. It's only now, ten years later, that I can even stomach the theme music.

While flying home late last week, I was reminded of the game. Not because I traveled in an F-14 or due to my pilot's callsign being "ICEMAN" (it may have been but I didn't ask). No, it was the less than graceful dropping of the plane on to the runway, causing my posterior to jump a good six inches out of my seat which set the spark. I was about to comment to the person next to me that I could have managed a smoother landing but bit my tongue as I recalled that I never once managed to successfully land the plane in the NES version of Top Gun.

The game was either incredibly good or I was just so persistent in wanting to accomplish this feat that I played it off and on for years. My best guess? The latter, but time will tell.

Top Gun

Top Gun looked pretty incredible in the late eighties, at least until you made it past the title and the splash screen of a jet fighter firing its engines. In-flight is a little bit of a different matter but, really, how detailed do you really need a game which simulates flight to be? There is sky and water and both pretty much look the same.

The game consists of four missions in an undefined region. After the brief training mission, you'll be shown a map which offers no real information and your orders consist of "destoy this thing". The thing in question gets a little more ridiculous with every passing stage. First it's an aircraft carrier, which may be possible but it seems rather unlikely that a single jet could take one out. Then you're ordered to destroy an enemy base, which would be more believeable than the previous level, provided that the opposing military didn't have the kind of money which allowed them to invest in aircraft carriers.

Top Gun

The final stage just confounds. "Destroy the enemy space shuttle?!" Wait, these fuckers have a space program? Why the hell am I attacking a space shuttle? And why is it firing missles at me from the platform? Clearly we are dealing with a superior foe.

Your F-14 Tomcat is armed with a machine gun and your choice of three types of missiles. The machine gun is not fully automatic for some reason, requiring you to tap to fire, and is capable of taking out enemy planes in a single hit. Ships, tanks and other craft all require considerably more firepower to eliminate and, while it's possible to destroy them with your gun, you'll primarily be using missiles to handle these foes.

Thing is, I can't really tell a huge difference between the missle types. They each have a damage rating and it's directly proportional to the number of missles you hace carry on your jet. They all seem to blow things up the same way, however, though perhaps I just wasn't using the weaker missiles enough to notice.

Top Gun

Once you're in the air, you'll face opponents in the air, sea and on land. There is an impressive variety of enemy types, from anti-aircraft missile launchers and submarines to bomber jets which have no rightful place in a dogfight scenario.  They are all armed in a similar manner to you and things can get pretty hairy at times with multiple attackers firing their guns while missiles rocket toward you. You can take a fair number of hits from gunfire but if one missile makes it through to you, it's all over.

Thing is, while you can shoot down missiles, it's laughably easy to avoid them a lot of the time. Since this is more like an arcade shooter than an actual flight sim, there's no sort of restriction on where you can fly to. It's possible to essentially fly in circles ans you'll still make it to your destination eventually.

Top Gun

One aspect of the game which I've always thought was particularly cool is when an enemy plane gets behind you and starts locking on. The main display of your instrument panel shows a rear view of your plane's tail fins and you must use some evasive maneuvers to get the enemy off of your ass. These are scripted into the levels and it's pretty easy to shake them, but it still adds something to the intensity of a battle to have a guy suddenly show up behind you and have a klaxon wailing as you deal with everything else onscreen.

Most of the levels are lengthy enough that you'll have to stop to refuel along the way and you'll do this in-flight. When your fuel gauge gets low, an alert starts ringing and you'll have to press start to call in the fuel carrier. This is just super cool to me for some reason, probably because it's a simplified version of the landing sequence that I have always had trouble with. You have to line up your plane with the fueling pipe and be traveling at a speed appropriate for making the connection. When successful, it refills both your fuel and your missiles, giving you a much needed bit of extra oomph.

Top Gun

Since I've brushed against the topic of the landing sequence, let's take a look at that. At the end of every mission, you'll have to successfully plant your jet on the runway of an aircraft carrier. The instrument panel guides you along with information about what you'll need to do to in order to be properly lined up and at the right speed for landing. The A and B buttons respectively speed you up and slow you down. Once you've made your approach, the view shifts to a landscape of the carrier and you get to watch as your plane either lands or crashes into the ocean. One of these things happened to me every time I played as a child.

It's only now that I've noticed that the indicator informs you of the ideal speed and altitude to land with. All of that time I spent cursing the game because it was telling me to speed up or slow down and it turns out that it was giving me more than enough information to accomplish the goal all the while. Armed with that information, I'm now able to land the craft with an 80% success rate.

Top Gun

It kills me how simple the entire thing was the whole time. I can't tell you how freaking stupid I felt when I made the observation and landed the plane on my first attempt.

The worst part is that, without this portion of the game feeling challenging any longer, Top Gun doesn't feel fun to me. The gameplay is pretty bland and relies on the switching things up with refueling and tailing jets, which is effective but wears thin as every level feels exactly the same as the previous one. I think it's time to just put the game back on the shelf, confident in my ability to fly an F-14, and never look at it again.



Conrad Zimmerman, Moustache
 Follow Blog + disclosure ConradZimmerman Tips
An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast () and str... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

kolten2 avatarkolten2
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJCiF5dBSpweeStTjOqu-uA/videos
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
I'm pretty sure you guys know what game I'll be playing tomorrow. One of THE hottest games of the season. That's right, I'm talking about Lunch Truck Tychoon. Kojima ain't got shit on me, mukkas!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Playing Project Zero 2 on Wii. One should hope PZ5 got more sensible controls - twisting the Wiimote left/right to turn the camera does not make sense.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
"When you are not playing the game or choose not to join the defense, your FOB will be defended automatically by your Security Team and security devices." Yeah, I think I'll just avoid the FOB functionality in MGS V
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
PSA: If you're picking up Phantom Pain tomorrow, put the kids down for a nap, turn off your phone and tell your partner to pipe down - the opening hour deserves your undivided attention. Enjoy!
extatix avatarextatix
If you like your hentai VNs [url="https://groupees.com/vn3"]cheap.[/url] Or even [url="https://www.indiegala.com/manga"]cheaper[/url].
VeryImportantQuestion avatarVeryImportantQuestion
Just read that SquareEnix have applied some weird mutation of crowdfunding mechanics to the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preorder. I know the last blog I wrote mentioned how big publishers try to pervert these systems, but to think it's already this far gone.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
First in line to grab MGS V tomorrow. Close to my house, so it looks like I can eat and sleep comfortably. No one else seems to be waiting at my mailbox. Neighbors are getting suspicious.
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
[img]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CNwHpCTVAAA0jLp.png[/img] Sometimes, life is good as a ghost.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
You know what, I'm just gonna come out and say it. I hope MGSV fails. It won't train wreck by any means, but I hope it's a huge financial failure. Nothing against Kojima, but #fuckonami
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
MGS V unlocks for me tomorrow at noon.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Since my blog using this is basically useless, I still wanted to share it. [img]http://i.imgur.com/a33WM5Q.png[/img] CAN YOU DIG IT!?
Manchild avatarManchild
I don't think you should be able to say #Fuckonami if you are deciding to support their product anyways. I don't often agree with boycotting and am not condoning that, but get your story straight and show a little consistency.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
When the band began to play the stars were shining bright. Now the milkman's on his way and it's too late to say good night. So, Good Morning! Good Morning!
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
I'm guessing all rock bands in the world must have stopped making music videos this year, since I read fall out boy's "Uma Thurman" won for rock video of the year. I can only assume there were no other nominees.that's the only rational explanation.
RatCasket avatarRatCasket
dtoid discussion has been awfully bitchy these past couple of days. knock it off. its just video games.
StripyTrousers avatarStripyTrousers
Just posted my first Dtoid Community blog. Hello all!
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Good Morning Good Morning We've talked the whole night through Good Morning Good Morning to you Good Morning Good Morning It's great to stay up late Good Morning Good Morning to you
Daniel Lingen avatarDaniel Lingen
#PAX2015
Agent9 avatarAgent9
gonna help my mom move and pack some things. what it means is I'm gonna sit and get yelled at whether I do or do not do something. I can't be the only one with a picky parent that expects nothing less than clairvoyance (-_-)
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -