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"The other kind of sneaky game – besides tactical espionage action – is the one that looks like it just can't work. I've seen a lot of game ideas over the years, and there's no way you could have ever made me believe that Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron would be a potential hit.

Until I played it. "

-Louis Bedigian    ps2.gamezone.com


Within that first five minutes of play I discovered and nearly mastered the game's wonderful flight controls. Within the first 20 minutes I had dodged enemy fire from land, air, and sea. Despite the unlikely odds, I turned the tide and won the battle by retaliating with an amusing Woodstock-guided bomb. Woodstock rides the bomb to its destination. The little yellow bird is temporarily under the player's control, allowing you to send the bomb to virtually any location.

By the end of the first hour I had destroyed blimps, escorted comrades to safety, and witnessed several computer-generated sequences – all of which feature the cast of Peanuts and were created specifically for this game.

And by the end of the journey, I had come to one conclusion: Why can't more aerial combat games be like Snoopy?

Set during the First World War, Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron is an interactive tale about the original Red Baron story. Snoopy's a big dreamer. Whatever he envisions comes to life in the game. To give you an idea as to how far his creativity stretches, you start the journey by flying his doghouse. You don't get to take it into battle, but that won't be much of an issue once you see the fighter plane he gets to control.

Snoopy's worlds are decent in size and are completely open to flight maneuvers and exploration. The mission usually incorporates some form of enemy destruction. There are always enemies to defeat, but that doesn't mean it's going to be the main goal. Secondary goals allow you to boost your point totals, which in turn gives you more loot to spend at the weapons stand. (Yes gamers, Snoopy has a weapon stand in his dream. And it's in his backyard, no less!)



Missions vary from straight enemy destruction to ally protection to goals that are somewhere in between. Every mission has restrictions and limitations, but they're not so massive that you'll have to play them again and again. You'll want to play through them more than once though, as the game is a great mix of action and excitement. But you don't have to. That's a key difference between Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron and other kid-targeted games. Kids don't want easy, but they don't want frustration either. They want a challenge. This game gives them that (albeit, not too extreme of one) plus a number of bonus requirements that make the game more difficult and more rewarding.

Some, but not all, of your defeated enemies will release weapons and health pick-ups. You're going to want to snatch these up as quickly as possible. During missions where enemies are approaching from all sides, you won't have time to think about healing your plane. Try and escape and you'll be shot down. Continue to fight and they'll team up to penetrate your defenses. It was an amusing and somewhat unexpected onslaught. I really thought I'd win the battle without getting a single scratch on my plane. Next thing I knew the wings were on fire.

On that note, Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron offers some great weapons, including the fire boomerang. Launch the boomerang on any enemy that's giving you a hard time and watch as its life meter depletes. Shoot the pillars holding up an enemy base and they'll catch on fire with or without the boomerang. The special weapon works faster, but standard gunfire will also do the trick.

 

Whether cruising the sky for balloons (a potential bonus), diving in the middle of combat, or flying just for fun, Snoopy's controls are top-notch. They use a style that falls somewhere between Star Fox 64 and the old arcade game Afterburner (which, after many years, is finally getting a console update). You have complete freedom over where you want to go. Directions can be switched by turning manually, or by pressing the circle button to perform a reverse roll. Enemy evasion spins are executed by tapping the L2 (left) and R2 (right) buttons. The other shoulder buttons let you increase or decrease your speed, which is very useful for maneuvering in combat.

The light analog sensitivity of the plane, and how you'll naturally conform to its actions, is not at all common. Most aerial games, even the good ones, have something notoriously wrong with their controls. It's nice to see that Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron has broken the trend.

Review Scoring Details for Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron

Gameplay: 7.9
The controls are the number-one reason for the game’s success, but don’t let that cause you to overlook the impact of great world and mission design. Snoopy succeeds in those categories as well, with a few stumbles along the way. The game is exciting from start to finish, but it isn’t overly long, nor is it completely free of repetition.

Graphics: 6.9
A few cool effects here and there. Explosions are colorful, but not too stunning in their semi-dated, semi-cel-shaded form.

Sound: 6.9
This is one of Snoopy’s most dynamic soundtracks yet. It’s got explosions, gunfire, voice-overs, and an orchestral soundtrack. In the game world, however, these features are not at all “dynamic.”

Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Additional challenges are available to those who finish the game too quickly. Players who are just trying to get to the end won’t find Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron to be that difficult.

Concept: 7
Snoopy has never had a game like this before, but there have been other aerial combat games with this style of play.

Multiplayer: 7
Split-screen dogfights for two.

Overall: 7.7
A light-hearted and entertaining aerial combat adventure. Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron soars above and beyond most other flight games, kid-targeted or not.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
tiwonge
Nov. 1st, 2006 09:58 pm (UTC)
What is the scale? Out of 10?
theniwokesoftly
Nov. 1st, 2006 11:49 pm (UTC)
Oooh. I need this now.
jchammonds
Nov. 2nd, 2006 03:05 am (UTC)
I think Snoopy Vs. the REd Baron sounded fabulous from the beginning!!! People will love this game.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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