No, really, I'm not holding the controller wrong. (Includes exclusive direct feed footage).
The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces is based on a book series written by Hiroshi Mori and the subsequent anime motion picture, which was directed by Mamoru Oshii (best known for Ghost in the Shell). The game features some anime cutscenes in the same style as the movie, but the game itself covers more material from the books as it is a run-up to the story portrayed in the movie. In the world of Sky Crawlers, an alternate version of human history, worldwide peace has come to Earth. However, since humans are used to conflict, to keep this peace, two corporations fight an endless war. In this war, cloned children known as "kildren" are trained as pilots who then fly into battles. In the game, you play a rookie pilot named Lynx, who is not one of the kildren.
Sky Crawlers was developed by the same team as the Ace Combat series, so players can expect a good flight experience. The game is probably best classed somewhere between an arcade flight game and a flight sim. The game includes several difficulty levels and the control difficulty is also customizable. In the easy and normal control modes, planes control much as you expect from playing something like Star Fox. Expert controls make the controls more realistic, and thus harder and less intuitive. Players switching to these controls are likely to find themselves weaving and crashing at first.
Control is perhaps the game's most unique feature. Instead of controlling the plane's direction with the Wii Remote, the game uses the Nunchuk as the rudder, meaning that the controllers are held in opposite hands from normal. The Remote is used as a speed lever where tilting up speeds up the aircraft and tilting down slows it down. Despite their unconventionality, the controls feel wonderful. The Nunchuk feels better to hold than the Remote and so this scheme is appreciated, even though the Nunchuk has lower motion sensitivity. The Z trigger is used for shooting and the A button is used to perform an automatic acrobatic pursuit sequence. This sequence can be activated by waiting for a meter to fill after getting in range of an enemy. The meter has three levels, and the higher levels are required to pursue more difficult enemies. The control stick can be used to choose a semi-automated maneuver with B as its activation. The game also supports the Classic Controller and GameCube controller.
The game features a number of mission types, from straight-up dog fights to more defensive escort missions. Some missions feature air battles, while others involve ground bombing missions. Most missions can be completed when designated targets are taken out within a time limit, though some are instead survival-based. The game includes the ability to customize the in-flight view as well as full replays of flown missions.
Sky Crawlers includes a number of aircraft, each with its own set of stats. Two different weapons can be equipped per mission, and selection of the proper artillery for the given mission is important for successful completion. A map is displayed prior to each mission to lay out the battle strategy.
Innocent Aces sports muted tones, with a color scheme like the anime, but the game uses real satellite data for its terrain. This looks good from the sky, but the textures become pretty pixelated when hovering near the ground, just like when zooming in too far in a program like Google Earth. The game also includes voiced cutscenes animated by the same studio as the motion picture. Unfortunately, the game will only include the English voices and not the original Japanese ones due to lack of space.
The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces looks to be a solid flight game with an interesting (if not depressing) story. The control scheme makes a surprisingly unique use of the Wii controllers' motion controls. The game is set for a holiday release.
Check out our exclusive direct feed below. The controls were inadvertently set to Expert for most of the recording, which explains the weaving flight. Note that the game is not yet finished, so the videos show English text, but still contains the Japanese audio.