Snoopy Flying Ace: Hands-On Impressions

We take to the sky with the Peanuts gang and find out all about what it means to be in the middle of a dog fight.

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Snoopy Flying Ace is an upcoming XBLA title that brings a whole new meaning to the term "dogfighting." Yes that’s right; this is actually a dog fighting in a dogfight: an online flight shooter where players take control of Snoopy and the whole Peanuts gang to shoot up the skies in cartoon airplanes. Cute, right? We had a chance to check the game out at this year’s Tokyo Game Show.

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Who’s Making It: Snoopy Flying Ace is being developed by Smart Bomb Interactive and published by Microsoft for Xbox Live Arcade. Its release date is still to be announced.

What’s It Look Like: A Snoopy cartoon. There are 10 different maps in this game, which we are told are a nod to the heroic world of Snoopy’s imagination and his famous thirst for adventure. In the demo we played, although the action was taking place largely above ground, we could still pay close attention to what was happening below. There was an Egyptian-themed map with rolling sand dunes, oversized cacti, and even a Snoopy-shaped sphinx. The best thing we found, however, is that you get to choose which member of the Peanut gang you want to be--even Charlie Brown or Peppermint Patty. If that’s not your thing (although, why wouldn’t it be?), then you can also opt to play with your Xbox Live avatar.

What’s There to Do: This is a very basic arcade-style flight shooter. You can pick and customize 16 airplanes in total before doing battle, including--wait for it--the Red Baron’s dreaded Fokker triplane. There are 15 weapons to choose from, and you can move up in rank in the nine different game modes, including 16-player free-for-all dogfights and team-based airborne rugby. If you want to keep it simple, there are also solo and co-op challenges. In our demo, we flew as Snoopy doing battle with about six or seven AI planes.

How Is It Played: The game has a pretty basic control scheme. The aim is to shoot down other planes, but the way you go about doing this is up to you. You can be serious and just fly around, controlling the plane with the left thumbstick and shooting with the L and R triggers. If you want to be creative, however, you’ll be in no short supply of tricks to pull off: loops (right thumbstick), barrel rolls, boosts (A button), looking back (Y button), and, of course, getting creative with your equipped weapons (press B to change).

What Aren’t We Seeing: In the demo we saw, there were only three planes to choose from and a handful of maps. We really wanted to try out flying with Charlie Brown, but I guess we’ll have to wait.

What They Say: “It’s not the size of the dog fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”

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What We Say: Anything with Peanuts characters is worth paying attention to, so we look forward to seeing more of Snoopy Flying Ace later this year.

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