Blue Wing Blitz

   When Square first announced it had an "unnamed RPG" in the works for the WonderSwan Color, speculation ran high that another port from the Super Famicom was on its way. But while the company's PS2 RPG development efforts are focused almost entirely around updates and re-issues of the Final Fantasy franchise, Bandai's handheld will be receiving an original strategy RPG in the form of Blue Wing Blitz.

Brewing Brits
Keid soliloquizes

   Little has been revealed of the game's plot, but it is known to begin in a nation called the Esk Republic. The country's peace is disturbed by the floating island of Odia, and the Prime Minister quickly assembles a special unit to investigate. The members of the task force each pilot their own unique airship, which can be further customized with special equipment. Keid, the stereotypical raw recruit, flies an agile biplane, while Havilan, the grizzled veteran, pilots a heavier, but more powerful, gunboat. Rounding out the main cast is Payer, a more experienced female pilot from the same village as Keid.

   At its heart, Blue Wing Blitz is a traditional turn-based strategy game, with one unique twist - all the combat takes place between airborne units. During the game's many missions each craft takes its turn moving on a grid map similar to most console strategy games. When two opposing units meet, they enter a separate combat screen for the duration of the battle.

   In keeping with the swift nature of airborne combat, positioning and speed will play a key role in these exchanges. Once units engage, both combatants can raise or lower their altitude, take evasive maneuvers, or initiate an immediate attack. If an attack is selected, players can further specify how they wish to carry it out. For example, a head-on attack is less likely to hit, but will be executed much more quickly. Attacks accompanied by a vertical or horizontal turn each have their own advantages, and all of these will depend of the maneuvers chosen by the opponent. Outside of the battle engagements, players will also have to keep track of ground-based targets and units, which can only be dispatched using bombers.

  Brewing Brits
Rushing into battle

   The WSC may not be the most powerful handheld on the market, but the game's graphics still manage to have a great deal of appeal. The field graphics may be simple, but the excellent character designs by Final Fantasy Tactics veteran Nobuyuki Ikeda add style and charm to the battle and story sequences.

   Blue Wing Blitz is due in Japan on July 5. Despite Bandai's insistence that a US release for the WonderSwan Color may still be forthcoming, its arrival seems less likely with each passing day. Consequently, it's highly unlikely Blue Wing Blitz will ever see release outside Japan. But for Square fans who imported the WSC for the update to the first Final Fantasy, Blue Wing Blitz may finally be another excuse to break the system out of its limited edition packaging.

Preview by Zak McClendon, GIA.
Blue Wing Blitz
Developer Square
Publisher Square
Genre Strategy RPG
Medium Cartridge
Platform WonderSwan Color
Release Date  July 5, 2001
New details on Blue Wing Blitz
18 "Otherside" screenshots
7 character designs / 2 airplane designs / 1 scene