Jet Lancer's coming in later than planned, but who can stay mad when your flight looks like this? Sitting at the crossroads between Luftrausers, Daemon X Machina and Top Gun, Vladimir Fedyushkin and Nicolai Danielsen's slick dogfighting anime about turning mountain-sized mecha into scrapheaps with fighter jets hit the skies earlier this week on Steam and Itch.io.
Originally set for a release last summer, Jet Lancer is Luftrausers delivered with a look that's a lot more vibrant and a little less, well, fash.
That comparison to Luftrausers is a welcome one, mind. Vlambeer's sepia-tinted dogfights had a wonderful heft and momentum to them, a flourish that Jet Lancer appears to capture wonderfully. Like Luftrausers, you've got a "jet" button and a "shoot" button from which to navigate a bullet-filled sky. But Jet Lancer expands your options with super-weapons, homing missiles, afterburners and barrel rolls for temporary invulnerability.
If Luftrausers was pure minimalism, Jet Lancer is delightfully excessive - an explosion of colours and jet trails, screen-filling bosses, and the kind of diegetic UI alarms that set my heart aflutter.
Rather than framing itself as an arcade score-attack, Jet Lancer has a full campaign of aerial antics to shoot through. Jobs are picked from a 3D overworld, driving your hover-carrier from mission to mission across a vibrant archipelago rendered in sharp Wind Waker stylings. It's a post-apocalyptic mecha anime in planes, following mercenary pilot and flight school drop-out Ash Leguinn as she weaves her plane through a web of intrigue, pirates, talking cats and rival pilots.
As a welcome aside, Jet Lancer also comes with some lovely accessibility options - with anti-fatigue toggles, adjustable dodge windows, and letting you disable screenshake and freeze-frame effects.