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Pearl Harbor Trilogy 1941: Red Sun Rising (WiiWare) Review

Review for Pearl Harbor Trilogy 1941: Red Sun Rising on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Long time Nintendo fans will undoubtedly remember the moment of 2005 when Satoru Iwata unveiled a white motion-sensing remote to the world. Accompanying it was a teaser video, which featured actors making exaggerated motions with the controller to visually describe what it could be capable of. Aside from the swordfighting teaser, one of the motions was for controlling an airplane in the way that a child would play with a toy. Fast forward to 2010, and from the humble beginnings of the airplane demo at E3 2006, to games like Wing Island, Blazing Angels, Heatseeker, and H.A.W.X., there is certainly no shortage of the genre on the system. Yet there is still not a single defining flying shooter that Wii owners would instantly look to, that would have the instant recognition that, say, a Starfox game would immediately gain. Developer Legendo probably won’t fill that void on WiiWare with 1941: Red Sun Rising, in itself a partial port of the acclaimed Attack on Pearl Harbor on PC, but as the first part of the Pearl Harbor Trilogy this gives definite potential for parts two and three.

As you’d no doubt gather from the name, Red Sun Rising showcases the events during World War II, set in the Pacific. Throughout, the game takes a serious approach to detailing the history and conflicts of the campaigns during this part of the war, but presents them in a light-hearted, almost comic-book like manner with cutscenes and garbled voice clips, which make for an interesting combination. The world depicted during actual play rests on the lines of realism, but it has been excellently realised, with expansive, open worlds to fly around in, and full to the brim with enemies shooting out bullet streams everywhere.

For the main story mode, you can choose which side you’d prefer to fight on; either the Allied nations, or the Japanese, and each has a single campaign consisting of eight missions to beat. Neither is too different from the other, and most missions happen in the same area, but aesthetic changes like plane designs and commander voiceovers help the two campaigns differentiate between each other, and ensure that you don’t feel like you’re retreading old ground.

As with any flying game on the Wii, the controls are the single biggest topic of interest, and Legendo have covered nearly all bases with Red Sun Rising. Players can choose between two motion-based options, the Remote and Nunchuk or just the Remote, and a regular pad with the Classic Controller. Motion usage here is quite effective initially; planes are responsive to the movement of the controllers, and despite the odd placement of tilting the Nunchuk to move, it does work quite well, and both options are tailor-made to your preferences by adjusting the sensitivity option in the pause menu. It does become a hindrance however when you’re in the middle of an intense dogfight and you’re trying to manoeuvre out of the way in a hurry, which is best left to the Classic Controller; no fancy motion tricks, just analogue control.

Screenshot for Pearl Harbor Trilogy 1941: Red Sun Rising on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

A large number of the missions given to you in the campaigns can be simplified to a set formula of ‘take off, shoot enemy aircraft down’, but the game does mix this up a bit with bombing and defence tasks. One thing you will immediately notice though is that targeting and even aiming in general in Red Sun Rising is a bit off. Aiming with bombs is a difficult process despite a ground reticule, particularly with sea-based bombings where they are more liable to fall into the ocean right through their mark than actually hit them. Even regular bullet streams you fire at enemy aircraft are more likely to strike them outside of your initial aim. Once it clicks on where the best placements are to direct your aim, the game becomes a lot more enjoyable, but compensating for what should be a given, a direct line of sight, makes the game unnecessarily difficult to begin with. Not only that, but instead of an easy level to teach you the controls and ease you into the game at the beginning of the campaign, you’re chucked right into the deep end of an immense dogfight, and the game actually gets easier after that instead of more difficult.

As for the enemy you’re facing, Legendo have to be praised here for providing a highly competent AI, perhaps a bit too much in fact. This won’t be the type of foe to let you stay on his tail and shoot him down easily, but the reverse holds true too, in that they aren’t easy to shake off. Your ship can take a considerable amount of hits before it nosedives, but provided there are enough enemy planes about, that can happen quickly and efficiently. A difficulty option to help limit the impact of the smarter AI, slightly wonky aiming, and the tough beginning missions would have been very helpful, but as it is now, practice, practice, and even more practice will be the only thing seeing players through this war.

As the first part of a trilogy, Red Sun Rising’s content is, on paper at least, minimal. The 16 missions that make up the entirety of the Campaign mostly go by the same structure and thus have low runtime, but are lengthened considerably by their difficulty and that a few of them offer a choice of aircraft and different objectives. The Dogfight mode is as titled, somewhere you can hone your skill with options like Survival, or to take down a certain number of enemies. A Free Flight option is included too, which makes Dogfight mode the best place for new players to start, but not for experienced players to return to, especially given the omission of any kind of multiplayer whatsoever.

With Red Sun Rising, Legendo have set and established good groundwork, albeit not without a few issues of its own that can hopefully be addressed for the rest of the trilogy. For 700 points, curious Wii owners should give it a try, but be prepared to bring your ‘A’ game.

Screenshot for Pearl Harbor Trilogy 1941: Red Sun Rising on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


Good range of control options with adjustable motion ability, coupled with challenging AI, lays a solid foundation. One that is shaken with dodgy aiming and a high difficulty curve.


More impressive in its scope than environmental design, but nonetheless a good looking game with a well-done historic feel, particularly when amidst a full-blown battle in the skies.


Garbled speech for in-game mission directives add character, and the backing tracks are a supportive blend of aggressive and authentic tones.


The main missions are short in number, but not a cakewalk to conquer. Dogfight mode adds a little something for before and after the main mode, but the lack of any multiplayer whatsoever is a considerable loss for replay value.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

Red Sun Rising provides a tantalizing glimpse into what the rest of the WiiWare trilogy could become, with energetic air fights and challenging foes, but is currently dogged with aiming and difficulty curve issues. For the price, this is one flight you might want to take, but best strap yourself in for what is an initially rough ride.

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European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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Staff Member

I have played this myself and I have to say, it's pretty darn good, but at the same time, difficult. I'd probably give it a 7 or 8 too. Smilie

TheNoble1 (guest) 21.09.2010 18:06#2

Where the hell is my StarFox Wii??????:-x

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