Based on the Japanese anime feature film, The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces, is a flight action game in which you can customise your planes and use the Nunchuck as a joystick to control your aircraft as you seek to destroy enemy jets.
With the same team at Namco Bandai that were behind the Ace Combat series in the pilot seat for The Sky Crawlers, it’s no surprise that this is an arcade-style flight game with a focus on fast paced fire-fights and instant pick-up-and-play appeal.
There’s a good variety of objective based defence, attack, escort and covert-ops missions and in the air you can look forward to some challenging battles that are made all the more enjoyable thanks to the superb implementation of the smooth control system. While the Wii mote controls the throttle you use the Nunchuck to tilt the planes nose forward and backwards and move it to the side to make turns. You also have access to a range of fancy manoeuvres via the Tactical Manoeuvring Command that locks onto a target when you manage to stay in close proximity to an enemy. The controls are extremely responsive and the action is fluid. Indeed, using the Nunchuck as if it were a joystick does make you feel in tune with your aircraft.
There's a variety of primary and secondary weapons to get to grips with, which alongside the traditional machine-gun fire of the aircraft means you get to cause carnage with the likes of gravity bombs and missiles as you rain down blows on ground targets. As you progress there’s the satisfaction of gaining unlockable items that you can use to customise the look and performance of your aircraft, giving it perhaps a new pair of wings, increased armour, or even a whole new engine. There’s a good variety of planes on offer boasting different strengths and weaknesses, so alongside the arcade action there’s a degree of tactical choice at your fingertips.
There’s also a storyline that runs alongside the game, told via some impressive cut-scenes and witty dialogue. It was lost a little on us, but may appeal to fans of the film. Visually, it sticks to the anime-style of the movie, so you can expect some sharply detailed images of aircraft and characters. Repetitive landscapes prevent it from being an engaging visual experience and general it feels like you're flying through the pages of a comic book.
The Sky Crawlers lacks the drama and intensity of other flight games, which is perhaps the fault of the game’s cutesy anime style and simple gameplay. Its accessblility, however, is also its strength and it does a fine job of utilising the Wii's controls to maximum effect. As a casual pick-up-and-play action flight game, it does what it says on the tin without ever really taking off.