April 21, 2017 at 2:26 p.m. PST
With a limited selection of games, Apple TV gaming is still in its infancy. This article reviews Air Wings, one of the best games for Apple TV.
The latest Apple TV is a radical departure from previous models. Apart from being slightly taller, the actual device looks the same. Inside, the device features a powerful 64-bit A8 processor, enabling mind-blowing gaming capabilities. Don’t judge Apple TV by its diminutive size. This little hockey puck supports graphics and buttery smooth animation rivaling any dedicated game console.
Apple TV is Powerful
Apple is known for packing a tremendous amount of power into small devices. Apple TV is no exception. Their A-series processors are designed to run Apple operating systems and apps. They’re not off-the-rack processors running inefficient operating systems with apps that run in virtual machines. Apple TV even features Metal, the API enabling graphics code to run directly on the hardware. With apps compiled to machine language and a ridiculously efficient OS, that little Apple TV is a powerhouse gaming device.
Siri Remote Is Excellent for Some Games
System integration is another thing that Apple does well. The Siri Remote is a perfect example. Instead of providing a generic gaming controller or ugly, 50-button remote, Apple supplies a simple, elegant controller. With a gyroscope, accelerometer and Touch surface, the Siri Remote makes for an excellent gaming controller.
The Siri Remote doesn’t work well with every game. After all, most console games rely on industry standard gaming controllers, which are compatible with Apple TV. That said, games designed to work with the Siri Remote offer impressive and intuitive controls. Players can drive a car by tilting the remote like a steering wheel. Aircraft can be controlled in a similar manner. The responsiveness is simply amazing, because the system integration is so tight. Apple TV is not a hodgepodge of disparate technology glued together with sloppy code. It’s tight!
Apple TV App Store Doesn’t Have a Lot of Games
Unfortunately, Apple TV, being relatively new, doesn’t offer a vast collection of games. The tvOS App Store gets bigger every day. Many of the games are ports of iOS games. This is low hanging fruit for developers, as tvOS is based on iOS. There are a few amazing games that blow away anything you’ve seen on more expensive gaming consoles. Air Wings is one of them. In fact, Air Wings is exclusive to Apple devices. Pangea Software, the developer, only creates apps for Apple products.
Disclaimer: Appledystopia Does Not Take Payola
Unlike many other websites, Appledystopia does not pass off marketing as journalism. This practice is rampant on the web. Many of the major sites you trust are being paid to write favorable product reviews. It’s perfectly legal to do this. Anyone who has studied history will know that this practice preceded the World Wide Web. Billionaires don’t buy newspapers because they’re directly profitable.
I’ve been approached by developers and media companies to write favorable content, and so far I have refused. I think it only pays off in the short-term. Trading integrity for a few hundred bucks is not my business model. I personally don’t enjoy writing marketing copy or being a shill.
This review is completely independent and based solely on my experience with the product. I enjoy playing Air Wings and I think this game just hasn’t earned the attention it deserves. Apple has never given this game its “Editor’s Choice” seal of approval. The games that get this distinction are usually not very good. Some of them are downright unplayable.
Air Wings: Cute Aerial Combat
There are a lot of violent video games, which raises the concern that we may be creating monsters. Scientists have studied the link between violent video games and real life violence. There seems to be some correlation, however, it’s not easy to prove a causal relationship. There’s simply too many variables at play. There was violence before video games. Violent crime has been declining over the years, as video games have become more prevalent. That said, most people probably don’t want to subject small children to countless hours of virtual homicide and warfare. As an adult, I find hours of violent gaming to be fatiguing.
Air Wings provides a solution to the plethora of violent video games — cute aerial combat. Instead of dogfights with the usual MiGs and F-series jets, Air Wings features cute aircraft such as paper airplanes, kites, flying squirrels and even Santa’s sleigh. There’s no machine guns, missiles or bombs. Instead, users fire spit wads, rubber bands, paper clips and other innocuous items. It’s the most adorable aerial combat game that exists!
Parents can rest assured that Air Wings won’t cause nightmares or inspire violent behavior. Adults will probably enjoy the humorous aspect. I mean, there’s a flying squirrel and a rubber bat! No matter what your age, Air Wings provides hours of entertainment.
Air Wings Features High Resolution Graphics and Buttery Smooth Gameplay
Rich, detailed graphics set Air Wings apart from other aerial combat games. Different levels offer challenging environments to take on real and virtual opponents. Haunted House, North Pole and Junk Yard are just a few of the 24 different battlegrounds. The graphics for each level are gorgeous and breathtaking. Objects such as carpets, paintings, gardening tools and balloons are rendered in 3D with excruciating detail. Air Wings even supports 3D TVs!
The actual gameplay is remarkably smooth and fast. Having played Air Wings for hours, I’ve never experienced jagged motion or random pauses. Tight integration with the Siri Remote makes for intuitive and responsive controls. I recommend changing controller settings to use the vertical orientation. It just feels more intuitive. Air Wings also works well with a game controller, however, I prefer to play it with the Siri Remote.
How to Play Air Wings
Players control aircraft by simply moving the Siri Remote. The controls are similar to a helicopter’s cyclic (joystick) control. Pressing the play button on the Siri Remote fires the steam booster. This provides short bursts of acceleration, and recharges when not in use. Tapping the Touch surface fires weapons. Swiping up and down on the Touch surface switches between different weapons. Players can level the aircraft by clicking the Touch surface. I’m not fond of this control, as it always fires the weapon.
Aircraft can only hold a finite amount of ammunition, however there is unlimited ammo provided on each level. Different aircraft can hold varying amounts of ammo. Players reload weapons by flying into an arming station, designated by a flashlight. Ammo depots replenish their supply after a few moments.
Each aircraft can sustain a limited amount of damage. The cross icon on the top right corner of the screen displays damage status for the aircraft. Damage is sustained when an aircraft is hit with a weapon or encounters an obstacle. Some obstacles, such as walls, will immediately destroy the aircraft. Although Air Wings is not a forgiving game, it’s also not difficult, at least in training mode.
Air Wings offers two modes of gameplay — tutorial and multiplayer. Tutorial mode provides access to one level in the free version. Additional levels are available with an in-app purchase. Players can practice maneuvering and fighting with other aircraft, however, they don’t fight back. The developer could definitely improve on tutorial mode by offering more challenging automated opponents. That said, tutorial mode is intended to train users so they can be competent in multiplayer mode.
Online aerial combat is at the core of Air Wings. Players can be randomly matched with either one or three opponents. I have to admit, multiplayer mode is very difficult. Online opponents tend to be experienced. Although I have won a few rounds, I’m usually destroyed by superior opponents. It’s best to practice a lot in tutorial mode before you even think of getting into online multiplayer combat. Tutorial mode is also a good warm up if you haven’t played Air Wings in a long time. The only bad thing about multiplayer mode is that there’s just not a lot of opponents. Despite the sheer awesomeness of this game, there’s not enough people playing it.
Air Wings Settings
Air Wings offers basic settings to configure gaming and environment options. Users can control music playback, 3D TV compatibility, player photos and names, training tips, control orientation and control sensitivity.
Air Wings is Free
Air Wings is a free game, with in-app purchases. You can actually get a lot of enjoyment out of Air Wings for free, including multiplayer gaming. That said, the in-app purchases are tempting. After a few hours of playing Air Wings, I opted for the “everything” bundle. This offers every aircraft and level for only $5.99.
After more than a year, this has proven to be a wise investment. Air Wings has provided countless hours of entertainment. I find that multiplayer games tend to offer limitless enjoyment. After all, there’s no end or solution.
In researching this article, I perused Pangea Software’s website and learned more about the company and their games. It turns out that they make a few more great games for Apple TV, but nothing quite like Air Wings. I ended up buying Otto Matic, Nucleus and Bugdom 2, however, they simply aren’t as fun as Air Wings. There’s just something about the synergy between the Siri Remote and the gameplay that’s so appealing. The controls are responsive and the graphics are so realistic, I sometimes forget that I am playing a game. Their other games probably work better on an iPhone, iPad or with a game controller. I enjoy them on Apple TV with the Siri Remote. It’s just that they’re not as good as Air Wings, but they’re still loads of fun.
I highly recommend Air Wings. There’s nothing to lose. It’s free!