Snoopy Flying Ace
Back in 2006, Smart Bomb Interactive celebrated the multiplatform release of Snoopy vs. the Red Baron that starred none other than the world's most popular beagle. Players piloted Snoopy's well-known Sopwith Camel and participated in dangerous air races, completed missions, and engaged in perilous dogfights (no pun intended). Come June 2 players will once again take flight in the Crimson Skies-inspired flight combat title Snoopy Flying Ace. This XBLA exclusive features customizable planes, single-player, multiplayer, and co-op modes, exotic locales, and who could forget Snoopy, his compadre Woodstock, and the rest of the Peanuts gang. We got a chance to chat with Smart Bomb's hilarious VP, Clark Stacey, to get the full scoop on Snoopy Flying Ace, a game that aims to live up to the original comic strips of Snoopy as the World Famous WWI Flying Ace as created by Charles M. Schulz.
What was the idea behind creating a flight game starring Snoopy and the Peanuts gang?
Several years ago we made Snoopy vs. the Red Baron for multiple platforms. We were very proud of that game and it was a critical success, but the budget and time constraints that came from the publisher [Namco] left us feeling that we could have done a lot more. So we went to United Media and representatives of the Schulz family, and we licensed the property ourselves. That made it possible to pull out all the stops and create a game we think is going to appeal to hardcore action gamers as much as Snoopy fans. But of course, it was Charles M. Schulz’s original strips of Snoopy as the World Famous WWI Flying Ace that are the ultimate inspiration, and we’ve worked very hard to stay faithful to them.
Many have compared SFA to Crimson Skies, has any inspiration been drawn from this game?
We played a lot of Crimson Skies multiplayer on the original Xbox, and it certainly influenced SFA. It’s surprising there hasn’t been anything on the current generation of consoles that compares to it. Like Crimson, SFA is foremost a deep, but approachable multiplayer game. They did a great job of making their flight controls easy to pick up, so you could be online battling your friends right away, instead of battling the flight model.
SFA is based off of Snoopy’s grand visions of WWI. How is this delivered in the game?
We had a lot of fun with this. The game essentially takes place in Snoopy’s imagination – where he is by turns a dashing young WWI pilot wooing farmgirls in the French countryside, and the masterful and heroic pilot of a Sopwith Camel. Because we’re inside Snoopy’s addled vision of WWI, we were free to draw in the other Peanuts characters to play roles in Snoopy’s fantasy. When you see Snoopy hanging out in the Officers Club in the game, knocking back a few root beers with the lads, you’ll see what I mean.
Which Peanuts characters can we expect to see in the game? Will Woodstock make an appearance? Will they all be playable?
All 12 of the core Peanuts characters are here: Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown, Sally, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Franklin, Rerun, Pigpen, Peppermint Patty, and Marcie. All are playable, and so is the Red Baron!
What can you tell us about the single-player and co-op campaign? What sorts of missions (18 total) will players take on?
SFA started out a pure multiplayer game on XBLA, but we saw an opportunity to raise the Arcade bar. I think we have more action and long-term gameplay in this game than you’ll find in most retail titles. You’ll do barnstorming obstacle courses, attack massive aerial battleships with your squadron, use ground-based AA guns to repel waves of enemies, escort spy missions...Snoopy pretty much wins this war single-handedly. And you can do all that in co-op mode as well.
Can you describe some of the multiplayer modes (eight total) that will be available?
Best. CTF. Ever. Seriously, it’s incredibly addictive, and with 16 players in the world it’s just nuts. We’ve talked a little about the mode we call Pigskin, a team game which is basically like rugby in biplanes. There are more, but I have to leave a few surprises for launch day.
What sorts of plane customization options will be available? What kinds of weapons will players be able to add to their planes?
You can customize your airplane skin, and we’ll be adding more with DLC later. The weapon selection is insane. Every plane has a base machine gun, and you can put any two secondary weapons on your plane that you want to carry into battle. There’s an arsenal of 15 to choose from, ranging from mines, rockets, gas grenades and punt guns to really out-there weapons like the Molten Flail, which is three flaming spiked cannonballs on chains that you can spin beneath your plane to become a flying weed-eater of destruction.
There will be 10 different battlefields in SFA, and we know one will be located in Africa and another in Europe. Can you tell us about other locations that will open up in the game?
Historical accuracy is very important to us, so we stayed as far away from it as possible. We’re particularly proud of Paris, where we managed to cram all of the major landmarks of the city into a few square blocks. But we also have ice caves, Mediterranean islands, a famous giant dam that never existed, and other landmarks that fans of the Flying Ace might recognize.
DLC has already been announced in the form of avatar clothing and accessories. What sorts of downloadables can players expect? Will there eventually be new characters, levels or weapons?
Yep, all three plus pie. New planes, plane skins, character costumes and game modes as well.
Finally, why should fans of this classic franchise pick up this game and what do you hope they get out of it? Will we see any other Snoopy-themed games in the future?
We’ve always been fascinated by the history of canine aviation, and Snoopy obviously played a pretty pivotal role in it. He’s really the Michael Jordan of dog combat pilots – nobody else even comes close. This isn’t just a game for Snoopy fans, though. If you’ve ever been in a frenetic FPS game that gives you the chance to fly a plane, only to find that the planes are totally uncontrollable and about as fun as an ear infection, we want you to try this. It’s the best flight combat game on the Xbox 360 by a country mile. And when you see Snoopy and Woodstock as an action game duo, I think you’ll agree that there must be more adventures for them in the future.
Snoopy Flying Ace will be available on XBLA June 2. A price has yet to be announced. Check out the game's info page on the Xbox official site for the full trailer. Also, be sure to check out our media gallery below. Excited about the title? Waiting for more information? We've got you covered. Hands-on impressions of Snoopy Flying Ace coming soon to GameInformer.com.