Pearl Harbor Trilogy – 1941: Red Sun Rising
Within minutes of booting up the World War 2 aerial shooter Pearl Harbor Trilogy – 1941: Red Sun Rising, it is clear that developer Arcade Moon’s efforts have resulted in one of the biggest rarities in gaming today – a war-centric title that refuses to bow to either jingoism and bombast.
Based on the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack and aftermath, Red Sun Rising allows players to follow the Pacific War under the guises of the US or Japanese forces, with two separate campaigns set aside for each. Refreshingly, publisher Legendo’s title concentrates on heated dogfights and historical battles rather than shoehorning its own patriotic nonsense or Ben Affleck’s protruding chin when dealing with its sensitive subject matter.
Another aspect of Red Sun that immediately impresses is the unique art style that adorns the menus and aerial combat – which easily recalls the cel-shaded, comic book appearance of the 2003 shooter XIII. An adaptation of the PC title Attack of Pearl Harbor, the title already appears to be 700 Wii points well spent before you’ve even taken flight for the faithful battle. Yet seconds later, as your aircraft plummets to the ground from your opponent’s pin-point accuracy, you’re back to that title screen again, searching for a more forgiving difficulty level.
Make no bones about it – Red Sun Rising is a difficult game, with a first mission that could potentially put casual gamers off the title entirely, with the Wii Remote control method proving more trouble than its worth within minutes. We fully recommend plugging in a Classic Controller instead, though a more effective Nunchuk and Wii Remote combination (if the Nunchuk was used purely for navigation) would have easily been the perfect combination. Having said that, once you’ve settled on a control scheme that suits and swallowed some pride for another potential tonking, Red Sun’s merits start to rise to the surface.
For one thing, Legendo’s title is easily one of the most impressive WiiWare downloads around, both graphically and in terms of value. A flurry of aircraft continuously fills the screen throughout, with both campaigns providing a surprising amount of depth, considering the variety in combat missions from both sides.
On the other hand, it’s tough not to once again return to the nature of the difficulty challenge presented from the game. From that first mission, Red Sun can be a painful experience and may frighten off anyone but the most hardened air combat gaming veteran. Enemies attack with improbable accuracy throughout and initially it appears the only recourse to escaping an early death is to fly as high as possible within the environment. Sure, you’ll gradually die a lot less and begin to make headway through your campaign, yet anyone that can’t stand staring at a Game Over screen may be wise to steer clear.
Ultimately, whether or not Red Sun Rising succeeds or fails is a question of how much the player is enticed by either its historical setting or relatively niche genre. Awkward controls and a thunderous difficulty may threaten to spoil what is a WiiWare title of unrivalled depth and value, yet if you’re ready to battle unforgiving AI, you’ll find plenty of bang for your buck.
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