Look, it’s a well-know fact that there’s only one video game that’s as good as the movie it’s based on.
A failure on the part of the filmmakers still counts.
Everyone deserves a fair shake (even the guy that wrote TOPGUN Zen), so I considered it my duty to try my hand at one of the many video games based on Top Gun. Since I’m not much of a gamer and only own a Nintendo Wii (see: the beginning of this sentence), I decided to crack open Top Gun Combat Zones for the GameCube.
I believe this is where the Nintendo Seal of Quality joke goes, but again, not a gamer.
Because I’m not really in the know when it comes to the interactive computer movies, I had my friend Elliot come along, so he could say things like “user interface” and beat the shitty levels faster, ie. the whole game faster.
First of all, your favorite characters from Top Gun are back… if your favorite character is the logo! When it comes to licensing movie rights, all this game was allowed to use was a) the name, and b) the little red star on the enemy planes. They use that for the loading screen. I have no idea why.
Here’s a fun part! You get to pick a callsign!
By “callsign,” they mean “save file name.” There’s no onscreen text from Not Viper saying, “The future is in your hands, Fucker!” I’m not even playing the game yet and I’m disappointed.
When you begin the game, you can only use one plane. All the others are hidden from you in the most patriotic way possible.
“Stand back, Fucker, that’s pure uncut America under there.”
The levels are split up by Eras. I’m not sure what that’s about. Do I get to fight in 1986, start World War III, and then see what combat’s like in, say, 1994? Then 2007? That would be kind of neat. Let’s hurry through Era 1 so we can see what this is like!
We’ve got Academy levels and Combat levels, but we can’t get to combat without practice, right? The training parts of the movie are pretty boring, because there’s no shooting, so I’m going to work on just following another pilot, I assume.
Nope. There are tanks and helicopters that you can shoot, fire missiles at, drop huge bombs on… who’s manning these things? Am I murdering day laborers or something? Oh well, at least it’s not as boring as I expected it to be. But it is still… boring.
I never thought I’d say this, but the lack of tunes from Top Gun really hurt this game. The music is pretty much a buttrock riff with some slamming industrial drums, just looping forever. Bleeerrggh. I had to mute it after five minutes and load up the movie soundtrack on my phone. And yeah, the music from Top Gun is awful too, but I buy movie games to feel like I’m in the movie, dammit. You failed, Combat Zones.
At least these canyons sorta make it feel like Independence Day.
The major problem with this game is that it doesn’t feel like you’re flying a jet. It feels like you’re walking through the sky. When you turn, you don’t bank; you just turn. Your afterburner just makes you go a little faster. You don’t have an option to switch cameras, probably because they don’t want you to see your plane just hovering there. You’re in first-person for the whole thing, except when you drop a bomb. And you just watch your sad plane float like Snoopy in the Macy’s parade.
“Fear me, enemy fighters. I’m going to kill you. Or whatever. Yaaaaawwwn.”
So after you finish six (I think?) boring levels of shooting at targets full of real people, it’s time to get into the shit. Let’s go, baby. I’ll admit, I was pretty excited to finally blast into the sky and take out some jets. But after shooting the fifteenth one with my hyper-smart air-to-air missiles… ugh, boring. The game is too easy. You usually have a few missiles less than there are enemy fighters, so you have to use guns on a couple. That’s kind of exciting? Then maybe you have to take out boats or tanks with air-to-ground missiles. That’s a thing? I guess this is a little more fun than killing helicopters that don’t shoot at you.
Cinemanaut John, who accompanied me solely because I needed to borrow his GameCube controller, pointed out that I was dangerously trying to fly under bridges and cranes to make the game more exciting… just like Maverick, eh? Perhaps he’s not such an asshole after all, hmm? Maybe watching Top Gun every week for over ten months has made me into something of a renegade myself?
Whatever, Beardy, put on your High Fidelity: The Musical soundtrack.
Oh, yeah, once the Top Gun soundtrack ended, we put on the CD from the musical stage version of High Fidelity, so John and I could multi-task our “terrible spin-offs of movies” projects. Elliot, being a gamer and a music major, had to leave the room, as we were killing him with terrible songs and gameplay. I had to beat the game on my own from here on out.
The absolute worst part about Combat Zones is that almost every level ends with “now go blow up the facility/prison/base.” Ho. Ly. Fuck. This is tediously annoying. It involves pass after pass after pass over the same small area, blowing up one little hut or silo at a time. Each level is timed, so after all the somewhat entertaining jet-splosions, you have to then haul ass to the last objective and just pray that you can take out the camp in the six minutes you have left. THIS ENDS 90% OF THE LEVELS.
“Don’t forget that outhouse on the corner, Fucker.”
After I beat the first Era, I was at least curious to see what Era 2 was supposed to be. I was all ready to start it… but you have to go back to the Academy between Combat missions.
Sorry, I was hoping to spare you the agony of playing this on your own, but I don’t have the strength to finish the thing. It is bad. That’s all you need to know. I’d recommend you find another flight simulator for the GameCube, but this is the only one. Sorry. It’s time to upgrade your console. Or start hating planes.
“I ain’t playin’ no Combat Zones, Fucker!”
And if you thought this would at least be a fun gag gift for a two-player drinking game some night, it also doesn’t have any multi-player options. Yes, a dogfighting game that doesn’t let you kill your friends. The game is officially useless.
Even on windowpropper.com, I gave it a 6/10.
FOR THE RECORD: Many, many people have asked me this year about the Top Gun NES Game with the impossible aircraft carrier level. While I might have been able to get my hands on a copy, I doubt I could add anything that hasn’t already been said by the Angry Video Game Nerd. So if you’re curious about it, enjoy his review.