Voodoo Boogy weren’t the only team to use specialist controllers; Super E.G.O.’s stand was drawing a fair amount of attention thanks to the flailing arms that are now familiar with Wii gamers everywhere. The team were using custom written drivers to utilize Nintendo’s “new gen” control scheme, which was providing an impressive level of interactivity in their flying game Airborne.
Ignoring the control scheme, the thing that initially struck you about Airborne was its wonderful setting. Based in the Victorian era that game took you into a world of well to do gentlemen with perfectly groomed facial hair, tall hats and an obsession with flying machines. Being pre-Wright brothers these machines have a classic look of being held together by string and being made of wood and cloth and powered by peddle or steam.
To complete the look, the world around which you fly is that of London hidden beneath a blanket of fog. Chimneys, bridges and building tops peek out from underneath this blanket as the townsfolk have realised that to escape the fog’s claustrophobic clutches they must build yet further upwards. Set to a sepia filter you have to admire the imaginative setting Super E.G.O. has dreamt up.
The game itself can be seen to pay more than a nod of tribute to the likes of Crimson Skies and Pilot Wings. Given your flying machine you meander around London town, stopping off and collecting missions from iconic, red phone boxes as you go. At this early stage missions include target shooting and checkpoint races (of the two I tried) but you can see there is scope for more. There is even a hint of GTA thrown in as stunts can be performed should you be able to squeeze your flying boat through certain gaps.
As with many Wii specific games, the controls can be where a game lives and dies; Airborne, not wanting to miss out on a good pun opportunity, positively soars, in my opinion. There is nothing revolutionary here, with the Wii-mote used for the orientation of the plane, but they fell natural and not as though they have been shoehorned in for the sake of a gimmick.
The nunchuk is used for movement and with every shake of your right-hand your character onscreen peddles your craft onwards. Customisation options allows you to create ships of varying weights but the heavier you go, the more you need to shake to get your plane to respond and climb.
Everything seemed very intuitive and flying through the Victorian skies was both quite beautiful and, with the potential of the level design already shown, an adventure. My only niggle is how well the product would perform on the market as it would either take a lot of people to take their Wii controllers to the PC or the Wii owners embracing flight games, neither of which is unfortunately, really going to happen.