Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Sidewinder

Go To

Sidewinder is a series of combat flight games developed by Bit Town and produced by Asmik Ace Entertainement. It comprises the following games:

  • Sidewinder (PS1, 1996). Released as Bogey Dead 6 in North America and Raging Skies in Europe.
    • As the fighter ace Diver 11, you've been hired to stop various terrorists plots around the globe.
  • Sidewinder 2 (PS1, 1997)
    • A group of rogue corporations have banded together to conquer the world. In response, the U.N has assembled an airforce. As the returning Diver 11, you are placed in the pilot's seat once again to stop the corporations' scheme.
  • Sidewinder MAX (PS2, 2000)
    • After an event known as the "Black October Incident", the developing country Eskara is caught in a bloody civil war betwen a rebel movement called the Reform Alliance, who want to open up the country to the free market, and the socialist Goshawk-Goskill government. You are Kazuya, one of a group of mercenary pilots called "Fighting Birds" hired to put an end to the conflict.
  • Sidewinder F (PS2, 2001). Released in the west as Lethal Skies Elite Pilot: Team SW
    • The release of Siberia's methane reserves cause Global Warming to become irreversible, resulting in much of the world being flooded. Life on artificial "mega-floats" is now the norm, and the surviving nation have rallied the banner of the World Alliance and its military wing, the Frontier Nations (FN). Opposing this new world order is the weapon-dealing Republic of Gurtestein and disfranchised states, who have united as the World Order Reorganisation Front (WORF). As a crack pilot of the elite Team SW fighter team, you must stop the WORF and its mysterious "M-Plan".
  • Sidewinder V (PS2, 2003). Released in the west as Lethal Skies 2
    • Three years after the end of the FN-WORF conflict, the Frontier Nations's Newfoundland base is attacked by an unknown group. The attack is soon revealed to be the work of the Alliance of Nations for Greater Independance and Liberty (ANGIL), a group of European countries disatisfied with the World Alliance's leadership and backed by surviving elements of the WORF. As Earth enters a new global conflict, a new Team SW is called into action.

The series started as a straight clone of Ace Combat, though one with somewhat more realistic leanings. The PlayStation 2 installment introduced more realistic elements, such as slightly more realistic physics, limited weapon loadouts, simulated g-force effects, and fewer mission targets to facilitate limited loadout.

This video game series provides examples of:

  • Ace Custom: Gyrfalcon 01 starts out using an F-22, which is indistinguishable from his wingmen aside from taking forever to shoot down. Once he gets serious, he switches to an X-29Z, a Lightning Bruiser plane that isn't flown by anyone else.
  • After the End: The fourth and fifth games, localized as Lethal Skies, takes place after a massive climate change left the Earth largely uninhabitable, with the population surviving on mega-floats. Various missions take place in the ruins of real-life locations, such as Paris and Mt. Fuji.
  • Airstrike Impossible: Lethal Skies features two canyon-run missions. Lethal Skies 2 features only one, but makes up for that by having you destroy an enemy fort from the inside.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The cover of Lethal Skies Elite Pilot: Team SW uses the same artwork as Sidewinder F (pictured above) but tinted red, giving the cover a very different mood.
  • Battleship Raid: Several Lethal Skies and Lethal Skies 2 bosses take up entire levels and have parts that must be destroyed in sequence before it goes down. Bonus points for one of the Lethal Skies 2 bosses being an actual battleship.
  • Black-and-White Morality: FN is good, WORF and ANGIL are evil. Of course, the "bad guys" claim it's the other way around, but given the amount of underhanded tactics they resort to, it's hard to believe them.
  • Boss Rush:
    • "Hopeless" starts with your base under attack from a walker. When you take it down, a quadrocopter brings in a second one, and both the mech and the quadrocopter need to be destroyed.
    • "New World", the final mission of Lethal Skies 2. It starts by pitting you against a Kill Sat, and after it's destroyed, another one comes in. Then, after disposing of that one, Gyrfalcon comes in for a final rematch.
  • City on the Water: The mega-floats in Lethal Skies.
  • Cool Plane: Plenty of awesome real-world planes appear in these games, but a few are unique to the series:
    • The F-25 Black Owl, a sleek-looking cross between an F-22 and a Su-35 and generally one of the best planes in the series, along with the similar X-16S Haggard.
    • Lethal Skies 2 has the S-47, a VTOL stealth fighter based on the Su-47. It also has the F-5Z and X-29Z, heavily souped-up versions of the F-5 and X-29.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted in the PS2 installments, which track damage to your fuselage, radar, engine, and wings separately. Taking radar damage makes it harder to lock on with radar-guided missiles, engine damage slows you down, and wing and fuselage damage affects your maneuverability. And, of course, taking too much fuselage damage destroys your plane.
  • Degraded Boss: Several M-Plan mechs return in the sequel, albeit watered down.
    • While the walker's original incarnation required you to take out several targets on top of it before taking out its core, the sequel lets you go for the core right away.
    • The flying fortress that attacks in "Intruder" is a scaled-down, less resilient version of the one fought in "Moby Dick".
  • Diegetic Interface: Unlike in Ace Combat, for at least the two last games, in the cockpit viewpoint, the map and the target camera are moved into the cockpit's on screen display.
  • Escort Mission:
    • You escort a tanker fleet in "Easter Parade" from Lethal Skies, while "New Beginning" from the same requires you to escort a transport plane.
    • The first part of "Gran Blue" in Lethal Skies 2 has you escorting a wing of B-2 bombers. From the same game, Road to Victory has you providing air cover for a tank column.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Jake's voice becomes deeper between games, coinciding with his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Excuse Plot: Except for MAX, the actual motivations and story behind the conflicts is rarely elaborated on, and take a backseat to the action. Even your wingmen get little personality and have no personal info besides a short blurb in Lethal Skies, and Lethal Skies 2 doesn't even give them that.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Jake, a wingman in Lethal Skies, returns as the enemy ace Gyrfalcon 01 in Lethal Skies 2.
    B2 Pilot: How can you? You were an FN ace!
  • Featureless Protagonist: To the point where , aside from MAX which gives the player character a pre-set identity with the possibility for the player to create their own, the pilot you play as doesn't even get a name or call sign.
  • Flat Character: Due to dialogue in these games being kept to a minimum aside from some stock radio chatter from your wingmen, it's hard to find anyone in the cast with any degree of character development. Averted in MAX, where even the Featureless Protagonist has hints of personality.
  • Fragile Speedster: The F-5Z in Lethal Skies 2. It's highly maneuverable and easily the fastest plane in the game, but also has the smallest supply of chaff and flares. As such, you'll have to dodge most incoming missiles the old-fashioned way.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the unlockables in the Lethal Skies installments have obscure, unhinted-at requirements:
    • In the first Lethal Skies, the X-16S Haggard is unlocked by destroying a random building in "New Beginning" (which soaks up a ton of punishment, making an accidental discovery unlikely). Meanwhile, the F-25 Nightowl is unlocked by beating "Aurora Attack" in less than 1:30 minute.
    • In the sequel, the first SP mission "Quick and Dead" is obtained by getting an A or S Rank on "Break Through" and then complete both parts of "Gran Blue" after having already beaten them at least once. The second SP mission "Firemen" is unlocked by destroying every enemies in "Paradise Lost" after having beaten the mission at least once.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: In real life, the F-5 is a fighter plane from the 60s that's woefully outdated next to most of the other planes available, while the X-29 was an experimental aircraft that was never intended for combat. Lethal Skies 2 upgrades them into the F-5Z and X-29Z, both of which are powerful planes comparable to the F-22; in fact, they're the fastest planes in the game.
  • Heroic Mime: While your wingmen and Mission Control get some radio chatter, the Player Character doesn't speak (beside MAX, where the player gives the mission briefings once he's promoted to Squadron Leader).
  • Hold the Line: The first encounter with Gyrfalcon takes place in part 1 of "Gran Blue", where you have to escort a squadron of B-2 bombers to an airfield. Shooting them down is optional; you only need to keep them busy and stay alive until the bombers land, at which point they disengage and the mission completes.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Played straight in the PS1 installments. The PS2 games avert this entirely with regards to missiles; what you see attached to your plane is what you get, and the number of them you can carry varies between planes, with the A-10 having the biggest payload and the YF-23 having the smallest. On the other hand, Vulcan ammo is unlimited.
  • Just Plane Wrong: The first game features the F-22 as a selectable plane, but it's codenamed "Superstar" and looks completely different from the real thing. Strange, as Air Combat, released a year prior, features an accurately named and modeled F-22 (though licensing issues could be a factor).
  • Kill Sat: The Final Boss of Lethal Skies 2 is a floating weapons platform shaped very much like your typical weaponized satellite that drops FAE bombs capable of sinking a mega-float. Once it runs out of bombs, it resorts to dropping itself on the mega-float.
  • Left Hanging: The fifth game, the last in the series, has a mostly happy ending, with FN triumphing over ANGIL and proceeding to rebuild the planet. However, the fourth game's ending mentions that the conflicts went on for seven more years, while Lethal Skies II's ending takes place five years after that at best. Plus, it's never revealed if Frontier Nations really were Villains With Good Publicity as various antagonists claimed or it was a lie.
  • Lead the Target: Given that this series is about air combat, leading your shots is key to actually hitting things. Missiles will do this on their own, and when an enemy is within gun range, your HUD will display a circular marker in front of it to show you where to aim if you want to actually hit the enemy.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Lethal Skies introduce multi-warhead missiles. Depending on how many targets the player is locked on, the warheads may either split among multiple targets or converge on a single one.
  • Mighty Glacier: The A-10, introduced in Lethal Skies 2. It's the slowest plane available, but it's also incredibly tough, has a large missile capacity, and boasts the strongest guns in the game.
  • Monumental Damage: A mission in Lethal Skies 2 is an airstrike on an ANGIL base built into Mt. Fuji. Once the base is destroyed, Mt. Fuji erupts. Notably, one of your wingmen in this game is Japanese; if you bring him along for the mission, he gets a minor Heroic BSoD at the end.
  • Ocean Punk: The setting of Lethal Skies.
  • Oddball Inthe Series: Sidewinder MAX, being a transitional entry, has a lot of features that are not in the previous or following installments.
    • The game has a much heavier focus on story and lore than any other games in the series. The cast has defined appearances, personalities and a lot of dialogue. There's an ingame encyclopedia detailling the factions, history and geography of Eskara. After missions, the player can even hang out in the base's pub and choose to speak with their fellow pilots and the base's staff, who have actual relationships and whose dialogue will change depending on mission completion or failure.
    • Unless one gets a Nonstandard Game Over (such as having less than 6 pilots left in the roster), the player can still progress even if they fail the mission objective.
    • Initially, the player has no control over their plane or weapon loadout. After a certain event, the player is promoted to wing leader which gives them latitude to not only change them and their wing's plane and loadouts, but also the mission plan. Players can draw their ally's flight path and insertion point if they feel so inclined. Near the end you get promoted to squadron leader, which gives you the additional responsibility of managing the base's equipment.
    • The game focus on Cold War-era air combat. The plane roster features primarily planes from the 60s to 70s with there being no 5th-generation planes.
    • Allied pilots without Plot Armor can die permanently when shot down in mission or in landing incidents. Though they get replenished with fresh recruits from the Training centre, it is closed down in the last chapter so the player must avoid too many casualties.
    • The game is more serious and realistic in both gameplay and tone. There are no "videogamey" objectives like Airstrike Impossible.
    • Controls are somewhat limited compared to the next PS2 entries. The player can only look around while in cockpit view, and the machinegun must be selected as its own weapon and thus cannot be used in conjunctions with your missiles. It can only be fired when you are within 1km of the selected target, which means you cannot use it to destroy buildings as those are only targetable while equipping a specific missile.
  • Old-School Dogfight: While Lethal Skies depict missile payload and behaviors somewhat more accurately than other console flight games (near realistic loadout, and missiles actually lead the target rather than tracking the exhaust), their range and tracking power is considerably reduced to allow for traditional dogfights to be the focus. In fact the hitbox for cannons are considerably larger to facilitate dogfights.
  • Perspective Flip: Completing the main campaign of Lethal Skies 2 unlocks a series of Sidetrax missions, which are effectively rehashes of existing levels with the sides switched. For instance, "First Contact" had you fending off an airstrike on your base, while the Sidetrax version has you carrying it out.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: The ending of Sidewinder MAX. After a final sortie, the government forces stand down and the country's president makes a speech over the radio announcing his intention to open up the country for foreign investment. As such, your pal Billy invites you to a final mock dogfight before the Fighting Birds are disbanded.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Out of the team SW pilots in the first Lethal Skies, only two return in the second.
    • The X-16S from Lethal Skies was removed from the plane roster in Lethal Skies 2.
  • Recurring Boss: Gyrfalcon, the ANGIL ace squad, is fought no less than four times over the course of LS2.
  • The Remnant: What's left of WORF eventually goes on to become ANGIL in the sequel, bringing with them a number of remaining M-Plan superweapons.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Lethal Skies 2 recycle several tracks from Sidewinder MAX and at least one from an unrelated flight game published by Asmik Ace, Super Air Diver.
  • Regional Bonus:
    • The original game had its controls improved, difficulty levels were added and the mission briefings significantly rewritten (likely due to complaints from Japanese gamers that the original briefings were unclear) for its western releases. These improvements would be backported to Japan for the game's "The Best" rerelease.
    • When Sidewinder F was reprogrammed as Lethal Skies, the plane crash and menu graphics were improved, you could change the difficulty level freely as opposed to being locked to whatever difficulty you selected when starting a new save file, and the "ACMI" view was made a normal option in replay mode instead of being hidden behind a cheat code.
  • Skippable Boss: A WORF Quadrocopter shows up in the "Easy Operation" mission of the first Lethal Skies, but nothing (beside the player's inclination to get a S-Rank) stops the player from simply ignoring it and focus on the power plant that is the mission's objective.
  • Spider Tank: One of the WORF M-Plan weapons is a quadrupedal mech equipped with missile launchers and an artillery cannon. A similar mech appears in Lethal Skies 2.
  • Spiritual Successor: After Lethal Skies II, Bit Town would release two more flight combat games using the series engine in the Simple 2000 series of budget games.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The realistic leanings of the game, particularly Lethal Skies, made fighting mechs harder, especially when they can only be shot at its respective weak points in order to do damage.
  • Tanks for Nothing: To be fair, tanks usually don't match up well against fighter jets. Or giant Chicken Walkers, in LS2.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman:
    • The AV-8B in Lethal Skies 2 is kind of a joke; it lacks an afterburner, can't dogfight well, and its air-to-ground capabilities are mediocre. However, it has VTOL capabilities, and one mission requires you to land vertically in a courtyard. Guess which plane you're going to be using for that mission?
    • Anti-ship missiles in Lethal Skies 2 are pretty much more restrictive versions of regular anti-ground missiles, since any ship you can target with those can also be taken down by anti-ground weaponry (which, depending on the missile in question, can actually be more effective). Then comes the mission "Confusion", which requires you to sink a number of submarines; regular anti-ground weapons can't hit them due to the subs being underwater, but the anti-ship missiles can.
  • Time-Limit Boss:
    • The objective in "Death City" from the first Lethal Skies is a ground-based carrier with an F-25 in tow. Take too long to destroy it, and the F-25 will take off. If it gets away, you'll have to restart.
    • The Spider Tanks in "Turning Point" and the flying machine in "Intruder" from Lethal Skies 2 have to be intercepted and destroyed before they destroy your base.
  • You Are in Command Now: In MAX, the player's wing leader, Bill, dies in a landing accident at the end of the first chapter and the player is picked as his replacement.

Alternative Title(s): Lethal Skies