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Fire Mustang

Genre: Shmup Developer: NMK Publisher: Taito Players: 1 Released: 1991

Fire Mustang was originally released in the arcades under the name USAAF Mustang back in 1990 by UPL (a.k.a Universal, the same people who gave us Mr. Do). When the game was ported onto the Mega Drive by Taito, not only had the name changed, but NWK was the licensee (don’t ask me why). Fire Mustang is a shmup that doesn’t stand out from the crowd but doesn’t fall into the crap pile either. It has parallax scrolling to WOW you, but the gameplay is average in the end.

Controlling your Mustang fighter is very easy. A and C is the firing/bomb button (C is auto-fire), and B is the “Forcer” attack. The Forcer attack is just the standard bomb which attacks anything on screen (don’t let the small fast ball fool you when pressing the B button). By pressing A or C you’re firing shots in air and bombing ground enemies. You can increase the range of your weapon by collecting power ups (collect two of them for a three-way shot). Also, by collecting power ups the bomb’s firing rates increases. Aside for the power up icon, the other icons to pick up are extra Forcers and 1Ups. Helicopters most of the time hold the power-up icons.

The challenge level is moderate since there’s no option menu in the game. The first few stages are always easy until later on, when the game becomes challenging, and enemies will be swarming from all sides trying to shoot you down. You’ll find out later in the game that bigger airships are actually releasing smaller planes from their tops in order to destroy you. The level designs are very average, with the “destroy all of them or else I’m dead” formula. There are around seven stages in the game with two loops (beat the game and you’re forced to replay the same levels but with much harder difficulty). All saying, there’s nothing new or exciting in the gameplay and the level designs are really average overall.

Graphically, Fire Mustang does look nice in many areas. The famous parallax effect is being used greatly so that it makes the backgrounds look nice. Except for that though, the animation quality is average. The sprites all animate enough to make them look real, but don’t expect any amazement when looking at them. The colors are actually not bad at all, and certain stages are full of them.

The music in the game is also mediocre, and it’s nothing special to talk about. It’s just regular military music with a hint of Japanese-style beats, depending on the stage you’re flying in. Like the music, the sound isn’t noteworthy either. It’s not bad, but it’s not very good.

An interesting note is that Fire Mustang tries to teach you about WWII history. In every stage there’s a date and some information about the battle being fought (in Japanese Kanji). It gives the game an extra touch in that it’s trying to teach you something, if you can read Kanji, but the funny thing is that no P-51 Mustang plane (the plane you’re flying in) can release big balls of energy that can destroy every plane on screen! Talk about a laugh.

While this review is short you have to understand the game is just average. Except for the nice parallax scrolling, Fire Mustang has nothing really special going for it. It’s not really exciting to talk about, for even a minute. If you’re into shmups in general, then give Fire Mustang a shot. The game only cost around $20 or less in Japan, so tracking down a copy shouldn’t be a pain for you. But a word of warning: don’t expect it to be excited.

SCORE: 5 out of 10

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