Right off the bat, Snoopy: Flying Ace serves up a navigation menu that is easy to use and eye-catching. Background visuals are blended with sharply contrasting objects of interest in the foreground, and the music is a mix of classic Medal of Honor-inspired themes with upbeat piano melodies that evoke Vince Guaradli of Peanuts TV specials fame. Not only does this set the stage for the rest of the game’s visual and audio quality...it gives a good impression of just how well the whole project was handled. You can expect some stand-out moments and cheeky humor along the campaign, as well as a fairly extensive online experience.
In true arcade dogfighting fashion, the left stick controls your plane and the right stick serves as a shortcut for barrel rolls, loop-the-loops, and U-turns. You can pull these off as often as you’d like. Face buttons swap secondary weapons, swap gunner positions (for certain missions and for ground turrets), and activate boosters or air brakes. The controls seem somewhat archaic, but with some ingenuity you can perform fun stunts and evades while you rain hell on the bad guys.
Speaking of bad guys...Smart Bomb decided to forgo the route that they started with Snoopy vs. the Red Baron - wherein other characters from Peanuts served minor allied roles - and cast many of them as enemies instead. There’s something awfully brazen and awfully endearing about facing off against the Schutzstaffel-cap-wearing Colonel Lucy von Pelt or the faceless Red Baron in his Iron Cross adorned triplane. Characters don’t die - they parachute out instead - but the game makes no bones about throwing Pig-Pen into a German airplane. Dialogue is displayed on-screen instead of spoken, which gives parents the option of whether or not to include their kids in the briefing sessions, which may have some mild trash talk or war-themed connotations. Add in some steampunk-themed weapons, and you’ve covered a massive audience demographic; the game is just plain appealing and fun.
Where Flying Ace starts to fall, unfortunately, is in the co-op: the entire campaign is playable in online or splitscreen - and serves its purpose very well - but for only two players. Furthermore, while the competitive modes allow players to choose their characters (you can even use your Xbox Avatar) and customize their planes, the co-op sticks both players with Snoopy clones; at least the custom planes and loadouts are still an option. Beyond just replaying the missions, though, there is no other co-op...and your score doesn’t count toward the rank system that you get to climb in the versus modes. Finally: there are no co-op achievements, which is a drag for someone who chooses to play the whole campaign with a partner.
In the campaign there are five mission types (time trial, dogfight, escort, boss blimp, fixed turret) scattered among nine locations, for a total of 18 mission - two types per location. They are rotated very well, so that none of the locations seems overused. Not all of them are very co-op friendly, but for the most part they work with a friend. The game itself is very easy. Only two difficulty modes exist, and in both you can respawn infinitely. I never failed a mission once, and I’m known to botch at least a couple of missions on each game I play.
What you ultimately end up with for $10 is a game that innocent and simple enough be played with a child, but without losing its appeal to adults. Combat and explosions are uncensored but family-appropriate. The humor is nostalgic for older gamers, especially those who remember Snoopy’s trademark vocalizations and his love/hate relationship with Woodstock...yet the lack of on-screen death and audible war-speak will leave even the staunchiest parents breathing easy.
The Co-Op Experience: Complete co-op challenges with a friend in this arcade flying game featuring Peanuts characters.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.