Approximate Release Month: December 1992
Genre: Space flight simulation
WarpSpeed is another example of attempted ambition not holding up after over 20 years.
Ambitious games are good. It’s how the medium moves forward. New genres are invented and technological and design breakthroughs are discovered. The problem with being on the cutting edge is that it’s easy to get sliced. For every Mortal Kombat there’s a dozen games like Pit-Fighter. Excess ambition kills just as many games as laziness (D-Force) or incompetence (Jack Nicklaus Golf).
WarpSpeed isn’t the first space flight simulator for the Super Nintendo, but it’s built for the home console unlike the port of Wing Commander. The controls are built for a controller and you can tell. R shoots your laser, L shoots missiles, and A and X control speed. Its simplicity means it’s easy to pick up and fly aimlessly around the galaxy, but also means more technical aspects like dogfighting annoying.
Most dogfights consist of spinning around in a circle, trying to get a bead on the one ship you’re engaged with. And you’ll always be fighting just one ship at a time in WarpSpeed; even if you enter a quadrant with four bogeys, the other ships will wait their turn. I was hoping that more advanced ships would make combat more exciting, but nope. The ships seem largely the same.
If you can get past that, there’s a lot of content here. There are multiple stand-alone scenarios to play through as well as a campaign. Most of them seem to revolve around killing all the enemies in the galaxy. Occasionally random missions will pop up, requiring you to go to a specific quadrant and do a task there (like blow up a ship!). I don’t know what the reward is, since the time limit is pretty exact and I’ve yet to complete one. There’s no money or experience or anything like that, so I doubt the bonus is anything more than extra points. And if there’s a game that needs a trading system or something, it’s WarpSpeed. Anything.
That’s why I don’t like playing WarpSpeed. The idea of going through potentially dozens of samey missions filled with boring dogfighting. It’s impressive for what it is, but still disappointing. This could have been a game worth playing.
Oh, and goodbye to 1992! 1993 starts tomorrow!
Tomorrow: No sparkling vampires allowed in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.