This one's almost notorious… hailed for being super realistic, because three years of programming work by a real-life pilot had gone into it, it having been developed in cooperation with Airbus and Lufthansa… and, as every single contemporary review will point out, a thick manual sporting 150 pages of detailed descriptions of virtually everything, including basic explanations of flight physics, plus an even thicker book of approach routes towards all major western European airports are contained in the package! Wow, right?
In the old, golden days, video games where thematically almost exclusively catering for a single target audience: male adolescents. Logically, some fantasy themes were recurrent: saving the earth and all of humanity or even the whole universe. Those were the goals and challenges of tomorrow's family men. Gaming having grown up, yesterday's youths are now confronted with reality. Those old dreams have been tainted as childish and the games industry now also delivers realism into the formerly well kept play rooms of today. One way of doing this apparently involves simulating every single job, no matter how absurd, and also every single every day activity, no matter how trivial, in a game. Resulting in increasingly obscure products in which the original ideas can hardly be recognized anymomre. Though even in the good old days, us heroes had to take a couple of collateral damage hits and, for example, resign ourselves to the role of a simple taxi driver. The implication being boring drives from A to B, where the highlight of the day is exchanging some gossip with the passengers. Unless, of course, it was Space Taxi.
With the advent of new technologies comes a time of innovation, a time when pioneers set out to explore the potential of the latest inventions. Red Baron is remarkable in this concern because it is not only about the early days of a new kind of warfare, but because it was in itself one of the first dedicated combat flight simulators for home computers set in this era. And so it helped to lay down the basics of the genre just like the historical biplanes in it did for the aerial combat. A very fitting combination so to speak which gives the game a timeless appeal: Entering this world of rough 3D graphics and simplistic flight models seems to have a lot in common with taking off in one of those fragile flying machines of WWI. But let us take a look at how exactly this works to the game’s (dis)advantage and what else makes it a classic.