In 1991, Vic Tokai developed and published “Aerostar” for the Game Boy. The vertical shoot ’em up changed the formula of shooters by incorporating a power meter for your ship based on how long it can stay in the air. The player would need to take that into consideration when making jumps from road to road. Would Aerostar jump into glory or would it fall into a pit of mediocrity? We’re jumping around in this Aerostar review!
In the manual, there is a prologue and it goes like this:
“The year was 2807. World War VI had just ended, rendering the Earth uninhabitable for any of the scattered survivors. The only hope then was to vacate the planet completely…
Years later, the Intergalactic Council of New Life sends an expedition back to Earth to check on its condition. After months of study and testing, they return with great news; Earth has stabilized and may once again be populated. All those wishing to do so may return at once!
However, with this new world full of beauty and mystique also comes an entirely new breed of evil. Undetected by the expedition, these mutant forces now lie in wait to prey on the thousands of innocent “pioneers”. Within months of their homecoming, life on Earth is again unbearable, and things continue to grow worse, out of control…
Fearing the total extermination of Earth, the Intergalactic Council wastes no time in deploying Aerostar, the most powerful fighter ever known. This state-of-the-art nuclear-generated vehicle of destruction is fully-equipped to do the job but is useless without the right pilot…
Aerostar at its heart is a vertical shooter where the player must avoid enemies, hazards, and of course bullets. Incorporated into the game is a new gimmick that I believe separated Aerostar from shooters at the time. At the top of the screen is a power meter that shows your ability to jump and hoover. The entire game is based on keeping your ship on narrow roads but the roads are filled with enemies, potholes, and craters. You’ll need to hoover to fly over the gaps in the road but you need to be careful because if the power meter runs out, your ship will come crashing back down. You better hope that the road is cleared or that there is a road at all! There were times when I’d blindly jump off the ledge during my Aerostar review and pray that I find another road on the side of the black gap.
During your fight to take Earth back, you’ll have your choice of different weapons. There are about five or six different weapons you can pick up but I only tried out the V and S type weapons during my Aerostar review. The V does a spread shot and the S adds to side bullets to the V which was plenty enough for me. With the S you wreck shit, and so I stuck with it throughout the entire game. The game is somewhat challenging with the narrow roads you must stay on but thankfully there is a difficulty option in the menu if you need to switch down.
Each level is unique with the environment you fly through. The first two stages the roads were easy to stay on, you just had to make sure enemies were defeated before you rolled forward but in stage three things start to get complicated. Big craters are now on the roads and you’ll be forced to jump around to stay safe. The jumping mechanic increases the further you get into the game and by the end of the game, you’ll be jumping through half the level. The roads don’t just go vertical either, later on, they are diagonally making it extremely difficult to jump safely on, or in other instances, enemies make the roads. If you kill an enemy before they create the road, good luck finding a way across the screen. The last stage during my Aerostar review was filled with narrow roads where one inch to the left or right would destroy your ship. You’ll have to stay on roads while avoiding two types of bullets. There are huge bullets that go over your head, so if you jump up you’ll be destroyed. Some bullets are on the ground making it necessary to jump up. You’ll have to practice and recognize what bullets can hit you and what ones are safe. It may look like your ship is in danger but some bullets will float above or below you. Know your bullet types!
Boss fights are fun but mostly easy. They are different which I appreciated during my Aerostar review but I’d say my favorite boss was the last one. He had different attacks that included both sky and ground bullets and a large flamethrower that followed you on the screen. Another boss I liked was the strange ball that was protected by a cage. The ball would leave the cage and shoot lasers at your ship that followed you for a few seconds. Other bosses were pretty easy and they usually had a sweet spot that you could find on the screen that kept you from danger.
If you die, you’ll restart right away from where you died with the basic weapon that you start the game with. There are no speed upgrades so you don’t need to worry about enemies zooming around you. If you beat the level you’ll gain an extra life which makes the game a bit easier to beat. It’s not super challenging but it’s a fun shoot ’em up for the Game Boy.
I never played this game or heard of it until I chose to review it. I wonder if I’d like these games as a kid?
Aerostar Review Score:
Aerostar enhances the challenge with the power-jump meter that you need properly utilize to safely transverse the levels. The game does a nice job of introducing it to you before increasing the difficulty. For a Game Boy shooter, it’s a fun entry that will keep you entertained for a car trip.
Aerostar scores a 7.6 out of 10.
What would you write in your Aerostar review? Do you remember when Aerostar first came out? What did you think of the jumping mechanic? What was your favorite boss or the one that challenged you the most? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!