Air Wars is a side-scrolling shooter in the vein of classic games like Gradius and R-Type. But its influences are actually much older than that. Regardless of how original the game's design may or may not be, Air Wars is a pretty good little shooter that controls well with a standard cell phone control scheme. Little touches like parallax scrolling and different music for every level are also nice additions. The only thing that holds the game back is its short length. Nine levels may sound like a lot, but anyone with rudimentary shooter skills should be able to cruise through the entire game on the second or third time playing.
Air Wars is actually a mix of two different Konami games from the early '80s. The shooter is a romp through time, taking you from World War I all the way up to the future, where you'll battle against aliens. This concept is basically the same one used in the 1982 game Time Pilot. The gameplay itself, however, comes from the 1981 arcade classic Scramble. Just like in Scramble, you can shoot straight ahead, and you can drop bombs to take out ground targets. Also just like in Scramble, missiles will launch up at you from the ground, and you'll have to bomb fuel tanks along the ground--which inexplicably fills up your fuel tank and prevents you from crashing to the ground.
The game does add a few new twists to the Scramble formula. Your ship is constantly firing, so the only fire control you need is for dropping bombs and directing your fire with the 3 and 9 keys, which causes your automatic blasts to shoot slightly upward or downward. This sort of ground strafing ability makes nailing ground targets a little too easy, though some of them are reinforced against your standard fire, in which case you'll have to use bombs. Though the constant movement required to dodge shots may cause a few hand cramps, the game's control scheme works well and is pretty responsive.
As mentioned, the game has nine levels. With the exception of the futuristic final level, each era gets two levels. The game starts you out in World War I, moves on to World War II, and then takes you to Vietnam, the Gulf War, and outer space. Each era ends with a boss fight, putting you up against bosses like a large blimp, a big tank, a SCUD launcher, and a large disembodied head. The end of the game's nine levels is a bit of a letdown. It merely wraps back around to the front of the game, gives you a big flashing "LEVEL UP!" message, and continues onward with a slightly higher difficulty. Considering that the game isn't very difficult and that the nine levels only take around half an hour to play through, the game doesn't exactly have a lot of replayability.
Graphically, Air Wars has a pretty nice look to it. You change craft from era to era, so you'll start out in a biplane, but you'll pilot a chopper in Vietnam, a jet in the Gulf, and so on. Most of the objects you'll see from level to level remain the same, but a few things change with the times. The game employs parallax scrolling to make the way the ground scrolls beneath you appear more realistic. This was a classic technique used throughout 2D gaming, and it works just as well here as it did back then. The game runs at a pretty good speed and usually maintains that speed well. However, many objects spit up a bunch of large particles when destroyed, and if this gets too extreme, the game does slow down a bit. The game doesn't have any sound effects whatsoever, but it does have music. In fact, it has different music for every level. The music attempts to sync up with the era you're flying in, which works pretty well.
Overall, Air Wars is a pretty good shooter, but it's over too soon and doesn't offer much in the way of replayability. It's certainly worth playing if you're a fan of the genre or of action games at large, but you may wish to opt for a monthly purchase, rather than simply buying it outright, as you probably won't play it for more than a week or two.