Luftrausers is a breathless arcade delight - video game dogfighting has rarely been better.

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Luftrausers review

RecommendedLuftrausers review

Wings of desire.

Luftrausers is, above all other things, a 2D shooter of ferocity and focus. And yet - look at this - I've just constructed a Luftrausers plane that doesn't shoot. Well, I've constructed one where shooting isn't the main strength, anyway. Being a submarine is the main strength of this particular beauty - an unusual agenda for an aircraft, granted, but then, Luftrausers is a gloriously unusual game. Testify!

Vlambeer's latest really doesn't screw around. Each launch fires you vertically out of the internal pipework of a hulking submarine and high into the clouds that scatter across a sepia sky so that you can be swiftly blown to pieces. The control system is the same turn-and-thrust blaster set-up made famous by Asteroids, but it's tethered here to a score-attack game with a hungry sense of earthly gravity - a game that's always longing to pull you back to the depths as you spin through the ether, turning this way and that, blowing apart enemy forces that start with swarms of puny mosquitoes before speedily escalating to include gunboats, precision jets, giant battleships and far, far worse. You know Vlambeer bullets, right? They're big and chunky and luminous. In Luftrausers, there are an awful lot of them.

If this was all there was to Luftrausers, it would be more than enough. Baddies flock and dart around you, and your plane, while behaving like no plane that's ever taken to the air in real life, handles like a fighter from the glorious old days of flying-ace cinema instead - a hot, steel-riveted conceit. You can fling it about with rakish flair, pulling off sudden turns and screeching dives. And, in a tweak that's all Vlambeer's own, you can even dunk it under the ocean or up through a deadly layer of clouds that block the higher reaches of the atmosphere. Then you can bounce it back out again, facing the opposite direction and spitting flame at anyone nearby who will feed your all-consuming combo meter. You're ceaselessly fighting the pull of the earth as well as your mechanised foes in Luftrausers, and you can almost feel the stress being applied to all those shuddering bolts and struts and stretches of canvas. It's electrifying to chuck such a fragile assemblage through the sky. No wonder they used to refer to these things as kites.

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Vlambeer's dogfighting game Luftrausers launches in a fortnight

Vlambeer's dogfighting game Luftrausers launches in a fortnight

Simultaneous release on PS3, Vita, PC, Mac and Linux.

Vlambeer's sepia-toned dogfighting arcade game Luftrausers will finally be released on 18th March on PS3, Vita, PC, Mac and Linux, the developer announced on Twitter.

Luftrausers is being published by Hotline Miami and Shadow Warrior publisher Devolver Digital and the game will feature over 125 airplane combinations and 100 missions.

Pre-orders on Steam are 10 per cent off the usual 6.99 / $9.99 price, making it currently 6.29 / $8.99.

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Dutch independent game developer Vlambeer has had quite the troubled history with lazy developers copying its games. First Gamenauts ripped off Vlambeer's flash title Radical Fishing before the two-person team of Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman could get its commercial remake Ridiculous Fishing onto the market. Then, Rubiq Lab revealed a game called Skyfar, which bared more than a passing resemblance to Vlambeer's upcoming dogfighting game, Luftrausers.

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"It's not just about our policies, it's about our people."

The two-man developer Vlambeer knew it was on to something with its 2D dogfighting retro throwback Luftrausers. Its snappy pace and minimalist visuals seemed well suited for on-the-go gaming, but Vlambeer worried its control scheme would be compromised on mobile. Instead, the Netherlands-based developer decided it would be a perfect fit for the PlayStation Vita's widescreen and button input. So it did what any small studio would do - it worked on a pitch.

Vlambeer cloned again with shameless Luftrausers rip-off

"Ultimately, we refuse to accept this as a part of our industry."

It feels like just yesterday that Netherlands-based indie studio Vlambeer was shamelessly ripped off when its Flash game Radical Fishing was cloned by Gamenauts before it could release its own commercial iOS remake, Ridiculous Fishing. The two person team of Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman have unfortunately found themselves in a similar situation again with Vlambeer's upcoming 2D dogfighting game Luftrausers already cloned by a studio called Rubiq Lab with its incredibly similar-looking SkyFar.

Ridiculous Fishing dev announces Luftrausers for PC, PS3 and Vita

Ridiculous Fishing dev announces Luftrausers for PC, PS3 and Vita

Hope this dogfighting shooter takes off.

The indie creator of top-notch titles Ridiculous Fishing and Super Crate Box has announced dogfighting game Luftrausers for PC, PlayStation 3 and Vita this spring.

Its developer Vlambeer released an earlier version of the title in 2011 as a simple browser game. This version is a "massive evolution", Vlambeer promises.

The 2D dive-bomber sees you attempting to keep control of aircraft in a screen swarming with other fighters.

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