by M-Network (Mattel)
Upon first glance, this game has a lot going for it. You'll almost think it's the Intellivision version. You will first be treated to the view of an airstrip as seen from the cockpit of your jet fighter. Pressing the firebutton starts the launch, and the runway lights will begin to speed past you. Pull back on the joystick and you're airborne. The flight simulation effects are first-rate. As you bank to the left or right the horizon tilts. Line up your gunsight on enemy aircraft and fire. But keep an eye on the altimeter. A quick dive after an enemy craft can lead to a crash landing.
A bar that runs the width of the screen helps you keep track of your horizontal position. Try to stay out of heavy flak zones. If you get hit by too much flak, you'll go into a nosedive. It's easy to pull out of the dive, but smarter to avoid flak altogether.
Rounding out the features in Air Raiders is the ability to land your plane and refuel. You get the chance to do this after shooting down ten planes. Landing is a challenging little detail that gives a nice sense of "mission accomplished" when completed. But the maddening part of this whole thing is that you can only load as many rounds of ammunition as planes you've shot down. So, for instance, let's say you shot down twelve planes in the first round. You could only restock twelve rounds of ammo in your next round. That is a bigtime comedown from the 99 you start off with, and let me tell you, fifteen rounds disappear faster than you can let go of the trigger. You'll be guaranteed to find yourself left literally hanging in mid-air with a full tank of gas and no ammo.
With a decent game engine for the sim aspect in place, it's unfortunate that Air Raiders falls on its face in the combat department. There just aren't enough of them to engage in battle with. And they're all the same -- all of them have the exact same attributes and behavior, and they all fly at exactly the same distance from you.