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Video Game / Carrier Airwing

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Carrier Airwing (aka U.S. Navy in Japan) is an Horizontal Scrolling Shooter from Capcom, released exclusively in arcades in 1990 and the Spiritual Successor of the previous Area 88 (aka U.N. Squadron in English) game released previously.

The story of the game (at least in the English version) is the following: In the 90s, former political rivals decided to put aside their differences for once, but a Middle-Eastern country named Rabu decides to destroy that peace by invading most of Europe, the entirety of the Middle East and most of East Asia. The straw that broke the spleen was the invasion of Rabu to Japan in order to take control of the Japanese technology. Japan, being an American ally, causes the U.S. to take matters in their hands and its up to three brave American pilots (Rick Ford, Mark Olson, and James Roy) from the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to put an end to Rabu's invasion to Japan and their plans to world domination.

This games is notable for many reasons: Originally the game was planned as a sequel of Area 88 (U.N. Squadron) game, but Capcom lost the rights along the way, so they came out with an original story, with the same staff who developed the previous game. Also, the game, with some glaring exceptions, is more down-to-earth and a little bit more grounded on reality than its predecessor, as includes both real American and Russian military hardware in the game.


  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Also overlaps with There Are No Global Consequences, at least with the English version: The whole premise of the game about a Middle Eastern country waging war and conquering half of the entire planet without no one being able (or interested) to stop it in the 90s is pretty ridiculous, as it could be almost impossible (if not outright suicidal) to pull such kind of global invasion taking into account the game is bit more grounded on reality than its predecessor. The only reason why a Western superpower like the U.S. decides to do something on is because Rabu decided to invade Japan due of its advanced technology. This is more or less averted in the Japanese version, as assuming Country X is Russia, that country has lots of motives, not to mention being geographically closer to Japan to invade that country, compared with a Middle Eastern country, and that without explaining all the advanced weapons Country X have, including a mechanical spider and a space shuttle.
  • A.I. Breaker: The large turrets on bosses with them, as the stage 3 battleship, fire at predetermined angles — if you position yourself far away enough from and slightly above the altitude of a turret, you'll be perfectly safe from it while in place to pound it into pieces.
  • America Saves the Day: Notable for being a Japanese game who invoke this trope.
  • Anonymous Ringer: Country X for Russia and Country J for Japan in the Japanese version. Averted in the English version, when Country X is Rabu, a Middle-Eastern country here and Japan is named as such, while in the Japanese version, Rabu was a armed group instead.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Some VTOL planes after taking off from an elevator will begin to spin, attempting to ram you. Stay close to the ground and see how they crash into it.
  • Artistic License – Military: Even if in this game you are a pilot of the US Navy and not a mercenary, you must pay for your weapons and upgrades.
  • Artistic License – Ships: The missile cruiser Kirov and the aircraft carrier Tbilisi are featured as bosses. However they're rather… different to their Real Life counterparts and not just in size.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: When on the carrier or while being refueled in flight before starting a given stage, the Carl Vinson's XO will brief you about your mission and except in a few cases will detail the boss' weak point.
  • The Battlestar: The boss you fight in the fourth stage is a battleship with an elevator and a deck to launch planes.
  • Battleship Raid: The Final Boss is one long boss fight where the player is supposed to destroy a Kill Sat. Before they even get to it, they have to fight the ludicrously heavily armed rocket carrying the shuttle taking the satellite into orbit, the heavily armed shuttle itself, before it finally launches the satellite and the player fights it. A more literal example is the boss of the third and four stages, a huge battleship and an also big battleship-carrier that span several screens.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: In the Mediterranean stage you'll fly over volcanoes. One of them at least has a nasty tendency to erupt when you pass close to it.
  • Critical Annoyance: An alarm will go on when the Life Meter is low.
  • Deflector Shields: In mid-late stages you can buy deflector shields for your aircraft. They can receive a couple of hits before going down.
  • Dirty Communists: In the Japanese version. In the English version, they're Middle-Easterners instead.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: A more meta-example of this: The flow of the levels in the Japanese version has more sense if you consider Country X is Russia, since the game begins in Tokyo, following with Hokkaido, Siberia, Europe (the Arctic Ocean and Greece) and the Middle East as the final zone you have to fly over, not to mention being more realistic in terms of how the players has to travel across the globe. On the other hand, the gameflow in the English version has less sense, because your enemy (Rabu) is a Middle-Eastern country, and the game implies it also invaded Russia as well. While it can be handwaved Rabu has the enough power to invade Eastern Europe, on the other hand this is Russia we are talking about here.
  • Dub-Induced Plotline Change: The English version expands the story of the Japanese version, as the plot of the Japanese version is mostly the same, with a notorious detail: In Japan, "Rabu" was the name of a terrorist group/weapons dealer organizationnote  who helps "Country X" (heavily implied to be Russia) to invade "Country J" (implied to be Japan). On the other hand, Rabu was switched out in the English version as a country who is mix of both Iraq and Iran, who wants to invade Japan, rather than Kuwait and the U.S. tries to stop that country from invading it. It helps a lot Russia in Real Life has sold lots of military hardware to Middle Eastern countries, so it could explain why Rabu is using Russian hardware, but it doesn't explain why Rabu could got the Russian space shuttle Buran in their hands as the final boss. Also "Country J" is outright called "Japan" and the capital of that country is also called "Tokyo", when in the Japanese version is just called "the capital of Country J".
  • Energy Weapon: Some enemies at the latest stages, mostly bosses, are armed with lasers. Also, the weapon option available on the last stage is two small laser-firing planes.
  • Expy: The boss you fight in the Middle East before attacking the Rabu fortress is an armed train, that carries a self-propelled gun suspiciously similar to the WWII German Karl-Gerät siege mortar even if it fires lasers instead of shells, is much larger, and includes missile launchers. The resemblance is even acknowledged, as its name is Karl
  • Final Boss: An armed version of the Russian space shuttle "Buran" and an armed satellite.
  • Giant Mook: The large helicopters (Mil Mi-26 in steroids), that deploy either tanks or missile boats doubling as MookMakers. Likewise, the Tu-28 in stages that feature air combat.
  • Homing Projectile: Some enemies fire homing missiles. Likewise, some weapon options are such kind of weapon.
  • Life Meter: Fuel meter as is called. Once it's depleted by either time or damage, your ship becomes an One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • Missile Lock-On: In the Mediterranean stage, both the Tu-126 Moss and its boss will attempt that -you'll hear the same alarm that sounds when you're low on fuel if they're successful- to call a Macross Missile Massacre on you.
  • Multiple Endings: Sort of depending wether you've ended the game continuing after being killed or not, your plane may explode in mid air with you parachuting to safety or suffer an explosion and land in the carrier, to have the fire extinguished.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The XO of the Carl Vinson looks helluvah lot like Sean Connery. The international release toned down his likeness.
  • One-Man Army: Sort of. You've to defeat an entire army and airforce just with your plane (or two if a friend is playing with you).
  • Plane Spotting: Most of the enemies are Russian planes and helicopters such as Su-25, Mil Mi-26, Mig-21, and others. Oddly enough, however, in one Arctic Ocean level you've to fight F-117, B-2, and F-22 -the three US aircraft-.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Some enemy planes dwarf your planenote  being way larger than their real-world equivalents. This especially goes for the bosses as the already mentioned battleship, bigger than even a supercarrier.
  • Shout-Out: The Multiple Endings listed above are similar to scenes from the movie Top Gun.
  • Shoot the Bullet: You can shoot the enemy homing missiles (the non-homing ones not), as well as the flying debris that comes from some bosses that have taken damage, as the Stage 3 and 4 ones.
  • Subsystem Damage: Most bosses are destroyed gradually (weapon system after weapon system, etc). However, if you feel valiant you can Attack Its Weak Point directly to have it destroyed earlier.
  • Suicide Attack: Some enemies are spinning airplanes, attempting to ram you.
  • Superpowered Robot Meter Maids: The Final Boss has the player fighting a rocket supporting a space shuttle. That rocket is more heavily armed than the actual warships the player faced earlier in the game, and that's before the heavily armed space shuttle.
  • Take Over Japan and The World: Rabu (English version) and Country X/Russia (Japanese version)'s main goal.
  • Units Not to Scale: Just like its predecessor, you often encounter giant airplanes.