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A top-down scrolling Shoot 'em Up series by Video System, known as Sonic Wings in Japan (and sometimes in the rest of the world) (not to be confused with Sonic the Hedgehog). Known for having a variety of characters, ranging from stock nationality clichés to a dolphin and an infant.
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The series spans six games:

  • Aero Fighters 1, dedicated arcade hardware.
  • Aero Fighters 2, Neo Geo arcade platform.
  • Aero Fighters 3, Neo Geo. World War II-era planes, instead of modern fighter jets like the others.
  • Sonic Wings Limited, exclusive to the Zinc arcade board.
  • Sonic Wings Special, released for the Sega Saturn and the Playstation.
  • Aero Fighters Assault, exclusive to the Nintendo 64. Strayed from the formula, being a halfway realistic 3D flight simulation (developed by Paradigm Entertainment) instead of a vertical shoot'em up.

The squared-off font used in the logo was famously misread by John Green as Nerd Fighters.

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I never thought I'd be reading trope examples over a jungle:

  • All Just a Dream: Mao-Mao's ending in the first Aero-Fighters, in which she seems to have accidentally gotten stuck in her fighter which is fighting on its own.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Angela, full bore. For starters, the character's called Steve in Aero Fighters 2. Everywhere else (Sonic Wings 2 included), they're called Angela. All you have to do is figure out why the translators felt justified in that. Making matters more difficult is that different ending pictures depict them as male or female. And, in Sonic Wings, Angela uses male pronouns. The best example of the situation is to compare their endings with Hien and Ellen. Pay close attention to how their hair is falling in each one...
    • In Keaton's ending with Angela, the latter was shown wearing a corset undergarment with a clearly feminine figure.
  • Battleship Raid: A number of bosses follow this trope, being either true battleships or massive land-based moving fortresses.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Sonic Wings 3 starts with a surprise attack that destroys the modern jet fighters, which is why the players are piloting WWII era aircraft.
  • Boss Game: The third game as well as Assault.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: If it weren't for this and the zany cast of characters, most people would be dismissing this game as yet another generic vertical shooter.
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  • Cool Plane: Both the ones you can control and the enemy ones, especially the bosses that are far larger than their Real Life counterparts.
  • Death from Above: Among others the smart bomb of the Harrier (AV-8) in Aero Fighters, that brings several Vulcan bombers to carpet bomb the screen.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Crashing your plane in Aero Fighters Assault will only subtract a bit of your health.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Gorgonzula is bumped from one of two final bosses to penultimate boss before Lar or Tenukie in Aero Fighters 2. Lar and Tenukie themselves end up joining him in Aero Fighters 3.
  • Difficulty by Region: For some reason, Aero Fighters 3 is locked to the hardest difficulty level when played on the European BIOS.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Enemy bullets move faster at least in the first game once you've all power-ups.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first game is a little more serious compared to the later games, despite having moments of comedy. It also uses a vertical monitor unlike the better-known Neo Geo games, although Special and Limited would return to a vertical orientation.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The final bosses "Pandora" (a floating golden skull with a spinal cord body), and "Lar" (a giant black eyeball).
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The joke final boss in the first game was a monkey, which has since appeared in other games combined or attacking with the last stage's mid boss.
  • Excuse Plot: A terrorist organization called Fata Morgana (or was it Phutta Morgana?) is trying to Take Over the World with the help of some otherworldly creatures known as the Hildride (or are they Hildroids)? The protagonists are part of an international peacekeeping force called "Project Blue" trying to stop them. Project Blue and the terrorists were only mentioned in the manuals for Special and Assault, whereas the Hildride are mentioned a grand total of once during "The Man"'s solo ending in Aerofighters 3. The first two games? No plot at all.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: There's a secret ending in Aero Fighters 2 and 3 where a special final boss shows up. Regardless of whether or not you beat it, you get an ending with a penguin saying "Heh heh!"
  • Flat Character: William Sid Pride in the first game.
  • Flying Car: The guest character from Turbo Force is a jet-propelled sport car.
  • Flying Saucer: The boss of the Hawaii stage in Aero Fighters 2 is one of them.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The alternate final bosses: Gorgonzula the Killer Space Monkey in 1, Tenukie the Bedsheet Ghost in 2, and Soh-Takeko the Mahjongg-Tile girl in 3.
  • Guest Fighter: Ships from Rabio Lepus and Turbo Force appear as secret characters in several games. And in Aero Fighters Special, it gives up a few more such as some of heroes from Karate Blazers ending up flying a plane with its owner, whom they're introduced to after beating the first level.
  • Heroic Dolphin: Spanky, a dolphin fighter jet pilot able to communicate in human languages.
  • Inconsistent Dub:
    • Many characters who get a Dub Name Change revert to their original names in later games, including the characters Steve (Angela), Cindy (Cincia), Kohful (Kowful) and the bosses Amadan (Bazeel) and Deathskull (Pandora).
    • Hien for some reason has a hyphen in his name in Aero Fighters 2.
    • Spanky reverted to his Japanese name (Whity) in Aero Fighters Special, but was changed back to Spanky in Aero Fighters Assault.
    • The villainous organization the heroes fight against is called Fata Morgana in Aero Fighters Special and Phutta Morgana in Aero Fighters Assault.
    • The "special" Final Boss in Aero Fighters is called "Gorgonzula" in the manual but "Mohetu Saru Bomb" (Super Monkey Bomb) ingame. Incidentally, the Japanese versions aren't consistent with his name either, alternating between "Super Monkey Bomb" and simply "Monkey".
    • Some copies of the third and fourth games retain the Sonic Wings title in the English version.
    • Given the very limited English release Special had, many of the above are likely the result of a rushed translation.
  • Just Plane Wrong: Besides some planes that appear as bosses like the Vulcan and the B-2 in Aero Fighters and Aero Fighters 2 respectively being way larger than real-world equivalents, the Paris stage boss in the latter is a pair of militarized Concorde airliners.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The smart bomb of the F-14 in Aero Fighters consists in a salvo of Tomahawk cruise missiles.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Harrier (AV-8) in Aero Fighters and the A-10 in Aero Fighters 2. Both are less maneuverable than other planes, but have both high firepower and powerful smart bombs.
  • Mood Dissonance: On one hand, the gameplay looks like a run-of-the-mill vertical shooter of the 90's. On the other hand, you have eccentric pilots of all stripes such as ninjas, dolphins, and babies exchanging silly one-liners between stages.
  • Multiple Endings: All pilots have them, regardless of whether you're flying solo or with someone else, and whether or not you successfully defeat the final boss. In the rest of the series except for Assault, there's even endings for each possible pair of characters.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Chaika and Pooshika, the Russian twins in the third game of the series. Chaika is the blue one.
    • Mao-Mao and Hien can also fit, with Mao-Mao being young and enthusiastic while Hien is much more stoic and reserved.
    • Also Keaton and Keith, the former being more straight and serious than the latter.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Spanky is a dolphin who pilots a frickin' YF-23 fighter jet and other experimental aircraft. He fries over jungles.
  • Sapient Ship: Rabio, a secret character in the SNES Aero Fighters alongside Lepus, as well as Aero Fighters 3 and Special (where he's "piloted" by Kotomi). Of course, this would be completely lost on anyone who didn't play his home series, since he has no lines in any Aero Fighters appearance.
  • Shared Universe: Aero Fighters acts a "Hub" franchise for a number of other Video System games, including Rabio Lepus, Lethal Crash Race, Tao Taido, Karate Blazers, Spinal Breakers, and Turbo Force.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The first boss of Aero Fighters 2 is heavily based on the gigantic spider tank from Raiden II, down to the way it explodes.
    • The Bonus Boss of Sonic Wings 3's final stage is preceded with a black ball that displays the following text:
    STOP THE TAKEOVER CAUSED BY THE MILITARYnote 
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Beat the game as "The Man" solo and he is revealed to be Captain Waffle from Spinal Breakers. Beat the game in co-op and he's revealed to be... just some guy.
  • Skippable Boss:
    • Aero Fighters: The capsule that releases one of two Final Bosses can be destroyed before it does so, and the game's ending will change to reflect this.
    • Aero Fighters 2: The final stage of the Mexico boss has randomized health, sometimes it'll only last a few seconds before exploding, sometimes it'll skip straight from the penultimate stage to the explosion.
    • Aero Fighters Assault: The Final Boss has three stages, but they operate on a timer rather than health.
  • Spiritual Successor: The first Sonic Wings was one to Turbo Force.
    • After the first game was released, its director Shin Nakamura left Video System over Creative Differences (Nakamura wanted to keep making vertical shmups in the traditional 3:4 aspect ratio, while Video System wanted to focus on the Neo Geo which only supported a standard 4:3 aspect ratio) and founded Psikyo, which used Aero Fighters as the blueprint for the many vertically-scrolling shmups it would release until its bankruptcy in 2001 . Psikyo's first two games, Sengoku Ace and Gunbird were especially similar to Aero Fighters as they retained the mechanic of the highest power-up level having limited ammo.
  • Time Stands Still: Mao-Mao's smart bomb.
  • Tokyo Tower: In 3, it's been either transformed into an assault mecha or replaced by a mecha impostor. On the second loop, said Tokyo Tower mecha falls backwards into a lake.
  • Totally Radical: Hawk in Assault uses stereotypical surfer slang. "Bummer", "Gnarly", and "Bogus" just to name a few. Just listen to his voice samples for yourself.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Assault is a Starfox-ish flight sim as opposed to a top-down shoot-em-up.
  • The Walls Have Eyes: Lar is a giant, disembodied, floating eye.
  • Weaponized Landmark: Running out of time on Mission 1 of Aero Fighters Assault will not result in a game over. Instead, the Tokyo Towers will turn into a pair of laser cannons that will instantly destroy the boss and let you go to the next mission. A Tokyo Tower was previously an enemy in Aero Fighters 3.
  • Widget Series: Mainly because of the huge contrast. The characters and some of the final bosses are wacky, but the rest of the game looks like any other generic military shoot'em up.

Hey, you idiot! Make a move, or you will be finished! Show me what you've gooooooooootttttttttttttttt!!

Alternative Title(s): Sonic Wings

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