Luftrausers PS Vita review – Indie dogfighter shoots to thrill
Vlambeer showed you a pretty ridiculous way to fish on your smartphone, and the Dutch indie dev’s meditations on aerial combat here in Luftrausers are every bit as absurd. In its own sepia-toned take on the 2D dogfighting arcade game, your plane has less in common with After Burner’s F-14 Tomcat than it does with Orville The Duck. If you’ll excuse the cultural reference so stale I’m actually choking on the spores as I type.
Pressing up on the left analogue stick engages your burners. Pressing any other direction engages a graceless tumble through the clouds as you wrestle to correct your fall – that is, until you’re shot down by the swarm of planes and boats out to get you. At least, during your first go. Very gradually, you’ll take control of the flight stick, learning to heal yourself by ceasing fire in quiet spells and how to double-back on pursuing fighters.
Luftrausers consists of one rolling stage, so it’s all about trying to survive as long as possible and as you do, Luftrausers’ plane-building meta-game reveals itself. As you fulfil objectives – say, destroying two boats while your score multiplier’s maxed out – you unlock new weapons, bodies and engines to make your own fighter. Every combo is a perfect and unique snowflake, though some are more conducive to high-score chasing, while others are just a mad curiosities. Try the homing missile ‘gungine’ with reduced health for Bully’s special prize.
Every combo is a perfect and unique snowflake, though some are more conducive to high-score chasing, while others are just a mad curiosities
This duality of pilot and mechanic roles enables you to take the credit after a great run, and you can always blame your impractical creation when it all goes wrong. As with Ridiculous Fishing, you always feel just one more go away from the unlock that smashes your high-score, but in the 8-bit skies you’re able to revel in your glory that much more.