If you were a kid who was super into playing war, the early 90s were pretty awesome.
There was this whole Desert Storm business going on, and Capitalist America used it as a golden opportunity to sell toy guns and army figures to children. Hell, I remember they released a whole series of collectable cards to commemorate that conflict. (I think I’ve got a few extra General Schwarzkopf cards lying around, if anyone wants to trade something for them.)
Anyway, as part of this war profiteering racket, Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf was released for Sega Mega Drive, and I played the absolute crap out of it. To this day, I have a fondness for flying helicopters across an isometric desert and rescuing tiny little pixel people, and that fondness spawned from Desert Strike.
So when Strike Force Foxx was released for Nintendo 3DS, I noticed three things:
- It has the word Strike in the title.
- It lets you pilot a helicopter.
- You get to use the aforementioned helicopter to rescue tiny little hostages.
I had a pixelated little moment of nostalgia and a glimmer of hope that I would be able to capture at least some spark of what made me fall so head-over-heels over Desert Strike as a kid. Instead, I got this:
This is a game that doesn’t know how to be difficult. It offers tedious, uninspired, boxed-in situations that you must navigate with a helicopter.
- The stages feel cramped, so there’s virtually no exploration (unlike Desert Strike, which had gobs and gobs of exploration).
- Enemy encounters have no pith to them and feel more like inconveniences than challenges (unlike Desert Strike, which had several conflicts that required tact and strategy).
- Missions require you to perform the same simple tasks over and over again (unlike Desert Strike, which didn’t really linger on the whole “kill X soldiers and rescue Y hostages” formula for very long before throwing some new twist at you.)
No, Strike Force Foxx never aspired to be Desert Strike, so maybe the comparison isn’t completely fair. It’s just weird to me that game developers figured out how to make a damn near perfect helicopter game 22 years ago, yet in 2014 there can exist a new game that refuses to even acknowledge any aspect of what would make that premise into a fun one.
In fact, I have more fun looking at screenshots of Desert Strike than I’ve had at any point in my playthrough of Strike Force Foxx.
I mean, just look at those explosions.