Games for the weekend: Ace Striker

Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.

For some reason, when I first heard about Ace Striker ($1.99) I had it my head it was more of a combat simulator. So, I was a tad disappointed it was a top-down shooter similar to Space Invaders and Galaga. That disappointment lasted about a minute before I realized how fun this game is. The premise is neat: You’re a fighter pilot fighting over historic battlefields like the Battle of El Alamein, the Normandy Landing, the Walcheren Battle, and the Rhineland Battle. You start at El Alamein, and unlock the rest as you play the game.

One of the things I love about this game is that you’re not limited to the bottom of the screen, like you are with some top-down shooters. Instead, you can move your aircraft around the entire screen. Instead of having three lives, your plane has a health bar; when it hits zero, the game is over. The graphics get the job done. They aren’t anything to crow about, but they also don’t make my eyes hurt.

While I generally prefer free games with unlockable paid content, I like that your two bucks invested in Ace Striker gets you the whole game. You can buy additional planes with better health or speed for $0.99 to $1.99. Your value for your dollar may vary, but I’d personally prefer that a plane cost as much as the game itself. That said, it’s not like two bucks for a virtual airplane is going to make me miss a mortgage payment, and as mentioned, the upgrade is completely optional, and doesn’t take away from the overall experience.