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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.
The series spans six games, the first being on dedicated arcade hardware and the latter two being on the Neo Geo arcade platform. Aero Fighters 1 and 2 utilize modern fighter jets, but 3 has the cast using World War II-era planes instead. The next game, Sonic Wings Limited stayed exclusive to the Zinc arcade board, while Sonic Wings Special was released for the Sega Saturn and the Playstation. The last installment, Aero Fighters Assault, was exclusive to the Nintendo64 and strayed from the formula, being an halfway realistic 3D flight simulation instead of a vertical shoot'em up,
The Aero Fighters / Sonic Wings series provides examples of:
- 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...
- Boss Game: The third game, arguably, 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.
- Cut and Paste Translation: The European version of Special removes most of the between-stage dialogues and the endings and there is no saving, making it impossible impossible to save high-scores and unlocked planes.
- Difficulty by Region: For some reason, Aero Fighters 3 is a lot more difficult with the European BIOS than either the American mode or the Japanese original. Enemies are a lot more aggressive early on and bullets are faster.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first game was a little more serious compared to the later games, despite having moments of comedy.
- 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 last stage's mid boss.
- 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.
- Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: The alternate final bosses, eg the monkey in 1, and the Bedsheet Ghost in 2.
- Good Bad Translation: Lots of them.
- Guest Fighter: The ships from Rabio Lepius and Turbo Force appear as secret characters in most games.
- Heroic Dolphin meets Sapient Cetacean: There is a dolphin fighter jet pilot able to communicate in human languages makes.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Hien.
- 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.
- Nintendo Hard
- Sapient Cetaceans: Spanky is a dolphin who pilots a frickin' YF-23 fighter jet. He fries over jungles.
WELCOME TO MARS. WARNING! A HUGE BATTLESHIP "SOH-TAKEKO" IS APPROACHING FAST.
- In Assault, Volk says "Say hello to my little friend!" when using his special.
- Spiritual Successor: The first Sonic Wings was one to Turbo Force.
- Samurai Aces and Gunbird are this to the first game. Both are made by a different company (Psikyo instead of Video System) but share a very similar engine and have the same director (Shin Nakamura).
- Time Stands Still: Mao(-Mao)'s bomb.
- Video Game 3D Leap: Assault
- The Walls Have Eyes: Lar is a giant, disembodied, floating eye.
- 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 millitary shoot'em up.