Airwolf (NES)

Airwolf Box Art


System: NES

Release Date: June 1989

Developer: Beam Software

Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment

Genre: Flight Sim

Airwolf is one of those games I had as a kid, but really have no idea why. The show was only reruns by the time the game was released. I wouldn’t have ever watched it, but darn if the game wasn’t a decent pick up and play. Looks like the show is on Tubi TV… and starting an episode… You are Stringfellow Hawke, pilot of the titular Airwolf, a super-duper awesome high-tech military helicopter. You’re being brought back into duty by Archangel to rescue POWs behind enemy lines.

Airwolf is equipped with 30mm machine guns, which are activated with the A Button. There are also a limited number of heat-seeking missiles that are launched with the B Button. Machine gun fire is unlimited, but you only start each level with 15 missiles. You’ll use these to knock down enemy planes and later on, ground based enemies. Until then, you need to get accurate with your machine guns. Acceleration and deceleration are mapped to the Start and Select Buttons, respectively. You top out at 896 miles per hour, faster than Mach 1.

On each level, there are three different objectives. The main objective are the person symbols, these are your prisoners. When you fly over the icon, the screen changes to a side view. You have to set down gently or else you explode. When you pick up all the prisoners, you can make it to the edge of the map to finish the level. The secondary objectives are enemy airfields. You have to blow these up before the enemy can scramble to their jets, or else you’ll face even more unfriendlier skies.

You have to keep an eye on your fuel, damage level, and missiles left. If you run low on any one of these, you can make it to the fuel drum icon. You have to land Airwolf just like you’re saving a prisoner. There are 20 levels of action before you loop back to level 11. Your missiles upgrade a few times through the game, but good luck getting there. Turning Airwolf doesn’t really work like you’d expect, meaning missiles are going to hit you because you can’t get your machine guns on them. If you make it to the edge of the map before rescuing all the prisoners, your speed will drop to zero and you’ll be turned 180. The planes and missiles will be in the same spot. Annoying.

Graphics: 1.0

Graphics are minimalist in the flying portions and nothing special in the rescue portions.

Sound: 1.0

The Airwolf theme is super good, but it’s the only song in the game. Sound effects are just alright.

Gameplay: 1.0

The game is actually not very smooth to play. Maneuvering Airwolf and aiming the guns is a big pain in the butt.

Difficulty: 2.5

The game starts out difficult, if you’re not just trying to pick up prisoners and bail. You’re going to get tagged by a lot of missiles and die many times.

Fun Factor: 2.5

It may control poorly, but it’s fun for a quick twenty minutes or so.

Overall Grade: 1.6

Airwolf earns a C-. Go ahead and give it a shot. The pilot of the show was alright, I’ll probably add it to my rotation.

Airwolf Video Review on YouTube