Review by Bobby Blackwolf



"That game looks hard," I was told in a Steam message while I was reviewing this title. I hadn't realized Steam was showing what I was playing, but it was, and he watched the videos from the store page to make that determination. The thing that struck me at that moment is that I hadn't realized that I was playing a hard game. I was flying around like a badass, destroying my enemies, getting destroyed, and going right back to destroying my enemies.

LUFTRAUSERS is a difficult game, but it doesn't SEEM like it's difficult, and that's not something you find a lot these days.

Expansion Of A Theme

LUFTRAUSERS is a sequel of sorts to LUFTRAUSER, a Flash game from 2012 from Vlambeer. The new version, releasing simultaneously on five platforms, expands on the original while still maintaining the simplicity. You only have to move and shoot, but the experience goes a little bit deeper than that.

Not exactly bullet hell, but still can be hell
Not exactly bullet hell, but still can be hell
While this looks like a twin-stick shooter or a shmup, it isn't. Pressing up propels you forward, pressing right or left banks your plane in that direction. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you can do some death-defying maneuvers. Your health is represented by a circle that encloses your plane, and you heal by not firing your weapon. It's a wonderful and intuitive way to represent your health without making you look to the corner of the screen.

Customize To Your Playstyle...Or Not

The Mad Scientist Has Parts
The Mad Scientist Has Parts
The main new mechanic that LUFTRAUSERS brings to the table is the customization of your aircraft. You can now choose an Weapon, Body, and Engine that change different characteristics of your plane. There are over 125 combinations in all, and each combination has its own name. You can have an Engine that shoots bullets out the rear to propel itself, while having a Body that takes no damage if it rams into enemies, and a Weapon that shoots a continuous laser beam if you wish. You unlock these parts as you go - you start off with the basic "Original" craft, but each part brings a new dimension of how to crush your enemies.

There are also over 100 "Missions", which are tied to each particular airplane part. They vary from "kill 250 enemies total" to "Kill 15 enemies without firing your weapon" and other challenges specific to that airplane part. These objectives encourage you to throw aside your go-to playstyle and try new combinations. Complete enough of these missions for a part, and you unlock "SFMT" mode, which is never described, but I'm assuming it's a colorful way to tell you that there are "so many things" on the screen.

Leveling up is cumulative across all your playthroughs, so if your enemies are better at slaying you than you are at slaying them, you will still be able to unlock everything and experience all that was intended, it will just take you a little bit longer.

Sights and Sounds of Mayhem

LUFTRAUSERS has a very stylized retro look, reminiscent of 80's arcade games like 1942. You're really just fighting silhouettes, but you won't care when there are many of those shadows on the screen all trying to kill you. Many people will have an issue with the extremely low resolution - it opens in a very small window in the center of your monitor. You can maximize it or go fullscreen to be able to see things. On the PC version, there was some layout issues on the leaderboard due to the low resolution, such as the 10th person's score would be over some UI buttons.

Other people might find that a relief, as you won't need a beefy PC to play.

Not the Team America song, but you wish it was.
Not the Team America song, but you wish it was.
The music is like the chiptune theme of the original, but eschewing the chip and using more authentic instruments. It is indeed dynamic, and I'm assuming it's based on what parts you have on your aircraft. If you go through the game folders on your hard drive, you will come across a series of Ogg Vorbis files. Each part (lead, drums, bass, etc) are separated out, and there are five variations of each part. When you start a game, it plays three of these files simultaneously to get the background music.

While that type of dynamic music isn't anything new, it's neat to go in and listen to the split out parts.

The downside is that there is only one tune, so you might get tired of hearing it over and over and over.

The Verdict

The only "complaint" I had with LUFTRAUSERS is a small oversight that I got over pretty quickly. Even though I was playing on PC, I was using an Xbox 360 Gamepad. This is supported out of the box, however none of the graphics on the screen correlated to my controller - they were all for the keyboard commands. After wondering what was wrong when it would tell me to press 'X' and nothing happening when I was pressing X, I realized that it wanted the keyboard letter X, which corresponded to the controller button A. This is most likely not an issue on the PS3/Vita versions.

Fly into my bullets, you fools!
Fly into my bullets, you fools!
Overall, this is a very fun diversion for short bursts of time. If your skill level is like mine, first off, I'm sorry, and second off, a game will last somewhere between 15-45 seconds for you on average. If you have five minutes to kill, you can try to knock out some missions, or select all random parts to see what you get, and then get back to what you were doing that's apparently more important than killing evil-doers. There isn't a story to speak of - although there are cutscenes that are about two seconds long (and that's a generous estimate) you really don't care why you're fighting.

All you care about is being a badass in the skies, and a badass you shall be.

Version Reviewed: PC
Acquisition Method: Steam key provided by publisher

Our Grade:
Your Grade: A
(Based on 2 grades)
The Good:
  • Difficulty masked by other elements, so weak players won't get frustrated but strong players still have a challenge
  • Great for short bursts of playime
  • Mix-and-match a plane to your playstyle
The Bad:
  • (PC) Xbox 360 Gamepad usable, but on-screen instructions still show keyboard commands
  • Extremely low resolution, even if you maximize the window
  • Dynamic music works great, but it's the same tune forever

Bobby Blackwolf is the host of The Bobby Blackwolf Show on the VOG Network, lead developer of the website, and lead GM for VOG: The Game. Follow him on Twitter at @BobbyBlackwolf

Review by - 3/18/2014 10:31 AM663 views

Your Responses


Grade: A
I finally got around to playing this (it was free on PS Plus a couple of months ago) and I am blown away by how much I like it. It's super addictive and I love the wonky controls that make it a blast to play. I keep playing with different weapon/body/engine combos, finding one I like, then later abandoning it for another when I hit a wall. Great pick-up and play factor, which is why I love it so much on the Vita. Now I am very close to Level 10 and I never thought would happen for a "hard" game.
See 1 More Concurring Opinion

Grade: A
I bought the game a month or 2 after it came out, & frankly I loved it. To an extent it reminds me of games of yore, specifically Combat (Atari 2600, due to the graphics) with NES level difficulty. I also love the ability to customize your plane to give it different abilties. Will I play it all day, every day? No, if only because I have a large game library that I wanna get to, but still... if & when I feel like playing a retro-style game, this is a good choice.

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