7800 Shooters – Ace of Aces, Desert Falcon, Xevious

The three games in this post don’t have much in common besides the fact they are on the Atari 7800 and they could be called shooters in some form or fashion. Ace of Aces is a action shooer/flight simulator that originated on PC. Desert Falcon is a pseudo 3D Zaxxon-like shooter where your bird character can traverse both ground and air. Xevious is a vertical shooter and home port of an arcade title. There is one more common thread between the three, however. I don’t really care for any of them.

Ace of Aces has a strike against it in my book because I generally don’t like flight simulators. So all of the sim aspects of the game bore me to death. The action portions of the game are few and far between for my liking and I end up getting antsy just trying to find something to shoot. The game seems to have a lot of depth with 5 different missions to play and you can even just play in training mode if you just want to get down to the nitty gritty. I spent a bit of time in both practice and mission and neither really kept my attention for long. A patient gamer that appreciates flight simulators might get a lot out of Ace of Aces but I personally don’t have the patience to play a game that on the surface isn’t very fun to begin with.

Desert Falcon tries really hard to be a good game. It lets you take your bird onto both the ground and in the air. You can also grab hieroglyphics while on the ground and there are special powers that you earn by grabbing three of them in various combinations. That’s cool and all but the problems I have with Desert Falcon are the problems I have with it’s closest kin, Zaxxon. It’s quite difficult to judge your height relative to the height of your enemies and the height of the buildings on the ground. Running into a building, even if you’re just walking, will result in death, which is terribly lame. You meet up with a sphinx at the end of each level which is the only cool thing about Desert Falcon in my opinion. I tend to just stay on the ground to avoid misjudgment of the enemies in the air but it’s still not a very fun game even when I take this approach because you then move so much slower. Desert Falcon is one of those games that will appeal to some but definitely won’t have universal appeal.

Finally, we have Xevious, a game I’ve played both in arcades and on the NES. And on all 3 versions, I consider Xevious to be…..just okay. It’s one of those shooters where you can shoot at enemies in the air and bomb enemies on the ground, utilizing the ProLine controller’s two buttons. My biggest problem with Xevious is that I don’t actually like having to shoot at enemies both on the ground and in the air. It gets much too hectic and hard to hit the correct button to ensure you’re using the right weapon on the right enemy. In the thick of it, when I’m being attacked by both types of enemies, I’ll inevitably slip up and try to shoot an enemy on the ground or bomb an enemy in the air and of course, get killed as a result. I find these style of games to be too difficult for my liking and my games end up being short and frustrating. Sure, I could just practice more and become very proficient at it but life’s too short. Xevious may be an amazing game for some owners of the 7800, but for me it’s too hard to be overly fun.

Currently in my collection:

Ace of Aces – game only D

Desert Falcon – game only C-

Xevious – game, manual C+

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