Snoopy vs. The Red Baron

It's like Ace Combat Lite -- light on challenge, light on replay value.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: November 4, 2006
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I'm not entirely sure when it happened, but at some point it was just sort of decided that games aimed at kids couldn't be just as much fun for adults. Now there are nigh-countless examples of why this isn't possible, but as any parent will attest to when tossing a new game at their kids, just because a younger player is shot on years, it has little to do with aptitude. Kids are usually much smarter and intuitively grasp game concepts faster than most of us would give them credit for.

And yet clearly someone can't resist buying the latest licensed game based on the last big animated flick. Oft times these are the worst examples of a properly designed game for any age, creating a double-whammy of uninteresting gameplay for both young and old alike. So much for playing along with your kids, eh?

Well here ya go: Snoopy vs. The Red Baron bucks the trend of being licensed and crappy at the same time. Instead, it captures the spirit of the half-century old Charles Schulz characters and injects them into a simple flight game that controls beautifully and takes place in a world complex enough that nearly any age can enjoy the game. It's not universal, nor is it a perfect game, but as sort of an approximation of the stuff that makes the Ace Combat games (or even the horribly underrated Sky Odyssey) so fun, it's a nice distraction. And hey, man, it's Snoopy.

The famously imaginative beagle has been many things in his time; astronaut, lawyer, author, Joe Cool and, perhaps most memorably of all, a World War I flying ace that repeatedly squared off against the Red Baron atop his doghouse-turned-Sopwith-Camel. It's the perfect fodder for a flight game, and developer SmartBomb Interactive clearly recognized this as they crafted a flight game that preserves the charm of the Peanuts strip and cartoons while still being strong enough on its own to be a solid kids' game.

Thrown back to the age of biplanes, Snoopy isn't a terribly deep game; you'll find almost a dozen secondary weapons (including, adorably, a Woodstock-guided rocket) and Snoopy himself is an ace, so you're given a stunt meter that dictates how many full loops, barrel rolls and split-s turns you can make. All of these more advanced moved are mapped to the face buttons or shoulders, and when complimented by speed control that lets your trusty Sopwith Camel just about hover in place, there's a surprising amount of freedom in the controls -- even if the world you're in isn't terribly open.

Missions are broken up into major objectives with intermittent tertiary objectives that often creep in to keep things fairly complicated. At the end of every mission, you're graded on a handful of factors; enemies shot down, balloons popped, time spent in the level and so on. It's a mostly useless system, really, and just there to slap a gold star next to the backyard hub that all the missions are started from, but for the OCD kiddie gamer, we suppose it's something.

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