Wing Commander FI

SNES A Day 123: Wing Commander

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Approximate Release Month: November 1992
Genre: Space flight simulation
Developer: Origin Systems
Publisher: Mindscape

Wing Commander is another PC-to-console port that is technically well done but not worth playing today.

Everything I say about this game should be viewed in the context of two important facts. First, I hate realistic flying games of all kinds. I don’t know what it is, but something about dogfighting in a video game has never clicked for me. Second, I’ve never played Wing Commander before playing it for this project, or any games in the series for that matter. I know the bad guys are kitty cats and later games have hilarious full-motion video scenes.

So, having said that, Wing Commander seems like a perfectly playable port of the PC original. I’m sure the graphics have been downgraded, but it looks fine to untrained eyes. Well, fine is relative. Because space is mostly featureless, I found myself constantly getting lost and losing my bearings. You can’t see far enough to make out distant enemy ships reliably, either, and using the radar has quite a learning curve to it. The lack of precision with the controller leaves something to be desired, too. This would be a perfect game for the SNES Mouse!

I love Wing Commander‘s cockpit view, though. There’s so much detail in everything surrounding the viewport. It’s very engrossing and makes you forget that you can only use less than half the screen. It shows you your fuel, your ammo, your shields, and the distance to your next navigation point in a well done way. The fact you can see your pilot’s hand operating the ship’s controls between his legs is awesome. The cutscenes on the ship are just as impressive.

In 1992, playing Wing Commander for the SNES made sense. Gaming-capable computers weren’t as common then, and were also outrageously expensive. Having a space flight simulator on the SNES would have been really novel at the time. It makes no sense to play it today, though. You probably have a PC or Mac and would be better off playing it there.

Tomorrow: I gotta say, Wordtris doesn’t sound like a very exciting game.

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