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Fire Mustang Review

Fire Mustang is an interesting game because the title has the same amount of syllables as Postman Pat, which means I often find myself playing it while whistling the Postman Pat theme. It’s also a side-scrolling shoot-em-up that allows you to control the North American P-51 Mustang in a fictional assault against the Nazi Luftwaffe and the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. Perhaps my whistling habits contrast with the game somewhat in this scenario.

The game plays like your typical late eighties/early nineties shmup; you manoeuvre your aircraft through waves of enemies and incoming fire whilst also shooting everything that dares oppose you. Fire Mustang is pretty simplistic in its design; it only ever asks you to hold one button for forward fire and the dropping of bombs and a separate button is used for a special attack of which you are limited. You can increase the amount of specials you can hold via power-ups and you can also increase the spread of your forward shot through a different power-up. That’s all there is to it.

Sadly, the lack of depth regarding your aircraft’s firepower is a bit of a drawback. Fire Mustang gets very repetitive very quickly and the lack of additional power-ups or alternative attacks mean you’ve seen everything the gameplay system has to offer in the first stage. You can’t even change the speed of your aircraft which was a pretty standard feature in shmups at this point in time.

Luckily, the game’s core mechanics are enjoyable enough to carry it (for the most part). Your aircraft is beautifully responsive, the firepower and explosions feel satisfying and the enemy waves are fairly varied which means you do feel driven to see what the next boss will throw at you.

The game really excels visually. Most stages are built up of huge amounts of parallax scrolling backgrounds which are gorgeous to look at. They’re also cleverly distracting as a keen eye will reveal that the stages aren’t particularly varied. You’re generally tasked with simply flying over completely flat terrain and apart from enemies, there is no change in obstacles to avoid. This is a very sneaky move on the developer’s part but hey, at least the game looks nice, right?

The same can’t be said about the sound. The instruments chosen for the game’s soundtrack clash in a rather buzzy sort of way and it creates some atrocious white noise that masks any semblance of melody. Sound effects are also quite low pitched which means that explosions don’t have the same impact as their visuals.

All in all, Fire Mustang is a capable yet unremarkable shoot-em-up. While the game’s mechanics are well realised, you can’t help but feel that a lack of stage and weapon variety makes this a rather repetitive if not well executed experience. For shmup fans, Fire Mustang is an inoffensive distraction that might make an interesting addition to your collection. For everyone else, there are considerably better offerings available on the Mega Drive.


Written by Lewis “Sonic Yoda” Clark on 05/01/2015

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