by Chris Barylick
June 22nd, 2006
It's confession time: A few years ago, when Freeverse Software released the original WingNuts, I wasn't sure what to make of it. True, it was Freeverse, and it looked like it had a good feel to it, but something about it made me hesitant to try the title out. Finally, after much cajoling from MacCentral's Peter Cohen and newshound Lulio Vargas, I was persuaded to try.
The resulting game was as good as anything Freeverse had ever released. Here was a top down plane shooter title with great graphics, a fun underlying plot, and stellar voice work that was just fun to sit down with for either a few minutes or a longer play session.
And if I'd ever mentioned that the staff of Freeverse kicked unsuspecting puppies for fun, I take it all back.
Aerial combat in Freeverse's WingNuts 2: Raina's Revenge.
WingNuts 2: Raina's Revenge is everything the original game was and more. Beautifully detailed, the game's look is reminiscent of top-down plane shooter classics like 1942, 1943 and Raiden while adding the bells and whistles of OpenGL, 3D rendering and graphical layers. Picking up where the original left off, the player must navigate through dozens of levels and travel through time to save the world. Not the most original premise in the world, but Freeverse makes it fun by way of excellent voice work, a hip look to its interface and a game style that brings back the classic titles and everything that made them fun.
A game is nothing without balance and WingNuts 2 achieves this. In a given level, a player will have to clear the enemies from an area, then fight a boss to advance the plot. Players will have to sweep through an area, mowing through waves of airborne opponents while also pulling double duty and bombing ground-based targets prior to summoning the boss of each level, which can range from a small fighter ship that will nip at your heels to extraordinarily large behemoth warships which will fire everything in their arsenal after you should you venture too close.
Limitations can make things interesting, and WingNuts 2 provides a cool mix to be considered. As the game begins, the player is provided a futuristic fighter plane that easily mows down almost everything in its path. By the end of the first level, this plane is stolen from the player, who must make do with older fighter types and thus change tactics as needed. Certain planes provide different abilities, such as heavier firepower, bombing abilities or maneuverability and these can be switched out as well as refueled or repaired mid-level by landing on the floating aircraft carrier that serves as your base of operations.
Tactics make all the difference and abilities like strafing, barrel rolls, loop maneuvers and cluster bombs keep the title interesting. Combine this with upgrades such as heavier weaponry, improved maximum shield and fuel levels as well as bonus point and the game takes on a true arcade feel.
Finally, WingNuts is aided by a cool automatic save feature that allows players to both consciously save a pilot file as well as come back to a point in the game that may have defeated them and take another crack at it. This allows for gameplay sessions as short as a few minutes and as long as the player wants. Pretty nifty and it removes the chore of replaying levels that have already been conquered.
WingNuts 2 retails for $29.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, an 800 MHz G4 processor, 512 MB of RAM and a 32 MB video card to run. The 175 MB demo, which can be downloaded here, expands to occupy 296.2 MB of disk space while the full version occupies 950 MB of disk space. The demo version will allow roughly a dozen launches before forcing the player to register their copy of the title. Additionally, an updater has been released to bring the program to provide compatibility and stability fixes. The small 3.9 MB updater can be downloaded here.
It may have been a reluctant meeting that brought us together, like two dorky, confused adolescents who catch each other's gaze across a high school gymnasium junior year and realize they're made for each other. But in the end it works and I'm proud to have this game in my Dock, ready to engage in top-down aerial combat at a moment's notice. Freeverse has done some of their best work to date and the title is worth its shareware registration asking price.
That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new, cool or useful in the Mac universe,.
Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.
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