And I'm going to repeat that. This is an XBLA title coming out later this that features a single-player mode, co-op splitscreen gameplay and up to 16 players online in multiplayer via Xbox Live. And they're already talking about the DLC that will be coming out after launch that will offer new game modes, new levels, new planes, new weapons and new costumes from It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Historically, XBLA titles haven't cost more than $20, and this is going to be worth that and then some.
For a game that's based on a beloved comic strip, Snoopy Flying Ace features some tight flying controls that allow you to climb, dive, bank and turbo (or brake) at the touch of a button. There are Crimson Skies-inspired special maneuvers as well that let you reverse, barrel roll and evade as well. They play out the same each time when you hit the right thumbstick, but come in handy when there's an enemy on your tail or inbound missiles heading your way.
Speaking of which, there are missiles in this game. And bullets, rockets and noxious green fumes. Also: shotguns. Plus lots of bizarre weaponry that you can outfit your plane with. Every plane has the standard machine guns, but then you have two secondary weapons you can switch to on the fly that range from practical (rockets), to the incredibly impractical, yet very helpful (giant electrical spheres). Personally, I would have liked to see more whimsical weapons, which Smart Bomb says might be coming in DLC, but just imagine a Pig-Pen Smokescreen, a Lucy Shrieking Siren or a Blinding Blanket from Linus.
The single-player mode is fairly straightforward. You take Snoopy through missions against different devious foes, all based on existing Peanuts
characters. This is where we ran into Lucy and her minions ... and turned her into Swiss cheese. NPCs will bail out after you shoot down their planes, but you can chase them down and hammer their parachutes as well, at which point they just vanish. That's as close to depicting death as the game actually comes. There are explosions and plane crashes galore, but you'll never see the bullet-riddled corpse of Pig-Pen on the battlefield. Probably for the best.
As good as the flying is, it gets even better when you're multiplayer-ing online. There are numerous characters to choose for your pilot, or you can use your XBL Avatar. The multiplayer modes include capture the flag, flying rugby and more, so there's a lot to choose from rather than your standard "shoot down the other guy, repeat ad infinitum" deathmatch. The plane controls are extremely easy to understand, and thankfully there are adjusted physics, meaning you won't graze a hill accidentally and explode. Snoopy Flying Ace
releases later this year, and the only thing that could make it better at this point would be if you could actually fly Snoopy's doghouse. Although I'm already wondering if that's not in the game. As you can see below, it already has Snoopy chugging root beer in it. Now I'm just going to have to wait on Peanuts: The Sandbox Game
to come out so I can live with these characters 24/7.