Aero Fighters series
Retro Coin Op Synopsis
Vertically-scrolling airplane shooting games went global in 1992 with the release of Video System’s Aero Fighters. This fast-paced, lushly-designed shooter took players on a journey of destruction across several continents, blasting away at enemies large and small.
Four selectable fighters were available for play, each with a unique set of weapons. Once your pilot and craft were picked, it was time for annihilation. The Aero Fighters were assigned to combat world terrorism, and every object in sight was a potential threat. As play moved through eight different levels—Moscow, Japan, the Mediterranean, Iraq and others—scores of enemy fighters launched their counter-attack against your invasion.
If the enemy blasts got too thick (and they often did), limited supplies of smart bombs were available at the touch of a button. Each came accompanied by a spectacular display of animation—huge bombers swooped in from the sky, for example—and each delivered a devastating blow to every on-screen threat. Power-ups were also available, giving your little craft an extra edge on your harrowing missions.
Each stage was capped off by a large boss, ranging from a destroyer ship to a giant, angry ape. Once all eight bosses were wiped out, the stages began again, but with the difficulty level cranked up to overdrive.
Aero Fighters’ simple, testosterone-fueled charm won it high marks from gamers, and two sequels were eventually released. Both Aero Fighters 2 and Aero Fighters 3 retained the vertically-scrolling overhead shooting motif, but the monitors were rotated from a vertical orientation to a horizontal one. This was a technological decision, allowing arcade owners to plug the two sequels into NEO*GEO machines as cartridge options.
Even with the screen changes, the prime directive remained the same: blow up everything in sight; don’t get blown up yourself. New fighters were available for player selection (eight for Aero Fighters 2, ten for Aero Fighters 3, including a fighting dolphin), and the new games took players over the Brazilian jungle, Australia, Central American ruins and more. The pilots each hailed from a different country, and once the missions were complete, an animated sequence told the winning character’s tale.
The Aero Fighters games weren’t necessarily revolutionary—vertical shooters had been an arcade staple for years—but they upped the ante in terms of graphics, control and explosive mayhem, a recipe for arcade success if ever there was one.
Arcade Machine Release History1992 - Aero Fighters
1994 - Aero Fighters 2
1995 - Aero Fighters 3