By Chris Picone, 09 April 2023
I grew up with shooters, I love them. They're the perfect game to play when you need to give your brain a break and you're just looking to relax for a while, let some stress out. And as you can probably tell from the hotdog logo, this is a title that doesn't take itself too seriously.
The graphics are that classic modern-retro hybrid we're seeing more and more of lately - nostalgic, but extremely polished and with plenty of special effects. And, to fit the ridiculous "sausage" theme, it's all bright and colourful and cartoony. The game features nine levels, each with a different theme - tanks and planes, giant mecha robots, submarines and boats, blimps, spaceships, all the usual tropes.
As expected for any shooter, controls are simple; you can move freely around the screen and there are only three buttons: Primary fire, secondary fire, and flip, which lets you face the other direction to shoot "backwards." One small but significant way in which Dogfight differs to other shooters is that your secondary button isn't limited to bombs - you can add additional fire modes in there, the only catch being that only the primary weapon will autofire so you have to manually trigger it. New weapons and bombs are unlocked by collecting stars at the end of each mission, awarded according to your kills, deaths, points collected in-game, and speed. There are only nine levels but the unlock system means when you unlock a new weapon you'll want to replay an old weapon to collect more stars to unlock new weapons, so there is some inherent replayability. This is the only area that does lack some polish - there are some balance issues in the sequence the weapons unlock. Dogfight has a gentle, family-friendly learning curve and the core game speed is surprisingly slow but it does feature an inbuilt "speedrun mode" which lets you speed the game up (veteran shooters will want to use this!).
It looks and plays great; very smooth, very polished. It's also family-friendly and features in-built couch co-op multiplayer (up to 4 players), which is awesome. Dogfight should appeal to any shooter fan but is the perfect way to introduce the next generation to the genre. My only real gripe is that, even with the game being somewhat replayable, 9 levels still feels very short.