Luftrausers

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Luftrausers Game Poster Image
Fun retro aerial shooter has mild violence, demands skill.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Although the music and visuals are clearly meant to conjure up WWI and WWII in players' minds, the game never mentions the Axis or Allied forces by name and doesn't have narrative or dialogue. It simply uses a vague notion of wars from the first half of the twentieth century as a stage for its aerial dogfights. There's no commentary, political or otherwise.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The only characters players see are static, mute images of engineers and officers in menu screens. The assumed pilots at the helm of the game's wee aircraft are suicidal daredevils, but little (if anything) of what they do is feasible in the real world.

Ease of Play

Luftrausers is a skill-based game in which players get only one life per mission. Most players are unlikely to last more than 30 seconds or so the first few times they play, but, as they become more familiar with the controls and unlock more powerful pieces of equipment for their planes, they'll start to survive longer.

Violence

Players shoot at planes and boats using machine guns, lasers, and rockets. All the vehicles in the game are tiny and pixelated, and weapon fire generally takes the form of little blips of light. People are never shown hurt or dead, and there's no blood or gore.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Luftrausers is a side-scrolling aerial-combat game with simple graphics and no blood or gore. Players spend their time shooting down planes and sinking ships, but the retro monochromatic landscape shows only explosions and doesn't include images of people getting hurt or killed. Although the action is clearly inspired by the ace pilots of World War I and World War II, the game stops short of naming countries, using recognizable symbols, or referencing any of the politics of the era. Its intent is simply to deliver a thrilling, old-school aerial-combat experience.

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What's it about?

Conjuring the thrilling airborne battles of World War I and II, LUFTRAUSERS is a simple side-scrolling aerial-dogfighting game in which players control an impossibly agile plane facing down a never-ending procession of enemies in the sky and on the sea. Your goal is simply to survive and shoot down enemy planes and boats for as long as you can. Most players will only last a few seconds their first few tries, but, with practice, they'll be able to survive for several minutes or longer before eventually succumbing to the enemy onslaught. Side objectives, such as shooting with accuracy or sinking a certain number of boats, help unlock new pieces of plane gear -- sturdier fuselages, homing weapons, engines that burp out bullets when you hit the gas -- that can be combined in more than 100 ways to create custom aircraft.

Is it any good?

Without a story or even any specific missions, Luftrausers relies solely on the fun of its aerial combat to keep players coming back, and it fares marvelously at that. Simple controls for movement and shooting combine with a natural physics system to create a fun and intuitive interface. The pull of gravity and the backward recoil of weapon fire feel right, making Luftrausers' planes a delight to pilot. Most players will be pulling off graceful acrobatic maneuvers within minutes.

But, although it's easy to get the hang of the controls, it's a hard game to master, mostly because of the intensity of enemies and incoming fire. Unlockable weapons, engines, and plane bodies provide much-needed advantages. Equally important are side objectives, such as destroying a certain number of battleships in a single mission or firing a certain number of shots without missing, which encourage players to try different styles and approaches. Ultimately, this makes you a better player, and once you start feeling truly skilled, there's no turning back. Luftrausers will keep you coming back for weeks.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the pilots who flew in the twentieth century's two world wars. How did aircraft change during and between these conflicts? How did advances in military aircraft affect the development of civilian aviation?

  • Families also can discuss how games have changed over the years. Luftrausers is visually reminiscent of games of the mid-1980s. Do you think you'd still enjoy playing games if they all looked like this one?

Game details

For kids who love action

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