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Fighter Pilot

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Released: 1983

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Digital Integration

Developer: Digital Integration

Submitted by: Ian Marks

I used to find something very liberating about flight simulators. At a time when I was a bedroom bound 13 year old they allowed me an escape, to fly and soar like the birds. Well maybe they were not that exciting, but I liked them all the same.

Fighter Pilot was different to many other flight simulators of the time. Psion’s simulator allowed you to land and take off, and Hewson’s Night Flite did the same, but at night. They were fun, but compared to Fighter Pilot they were big girls blouses… because Fighter Pilot allowed you to fly a big flippin’ jet and shoot things. Cool or what.

Control wise it was much the same as the boring simulators. Cursor keys to control the aeroplane, flap controls, landing gear and the like were mapped to other keys. But this baby had machine guns, and you could fire them at little triangles that buzzed around you.

Since the mid-eighties the threat to the US Air Force from triangles has reduced greatly, but in those days they were deadly. There were commie vector triangles everywhere, and the best way to deal with them was in an F16 – strangely though not one armed with big missiles.

It had a map too, one that looked like the one out of Lord of the Rings, with little mountains drawn onto it. You could navigate your way from one base to another, shooting any of the equilateral communist bastards that got in your way.

As with most flight simulators landing the plane was almost impossible without crashing. I remember vividly taking hours to get myself set up perfectly for a landing… my speed was correct, my angle of approach was perfect, my flaps were perfectly set up, and then I crashed… I’d forgotten to lower my under-carriage. Probably the top pilots in US training bases have all had this problem too.

With Fighter Pilot I could be Tom Cruise… without the expensive sunglasses though, and without the Scientology stuff. Great times.

Finally before anyone points out that Top Gun didn’t come out until 3 years after this game, I know, but the analogy worked too well not to use it.