Air Fortress is a shoot-em-up and platformer hybrid developed by HAL Laboratory and first released in Japan for the Famicom in 1987, and later for the NES in 1989. The game was designed by Hiroaki Suga. The music in the game was composed by Hideki Kanazashi under the alias 'Escaper Kanazashi'.
Air Fortress contains two different forms of gameplay that repeats over each of the eight levels.
Upon entering each air fortress, the gameplay is a side-scrolling shooter with basic enemies and two different kinds of power-ups: Energy and Crash beams (represented by a bubble with either an E or B inside, respectively). Each energy bubble provides 100 extra energy points, while the crash beam bubble will provide 5 more shots of the crash beam. These power-ups are intended for use once inside the fortress proper. The player has three attempts to enter an air lock which is located at the end of each level. The ship will automatically lock on to this. Once locked on, the air lock allows the player to go inside the fortress.
At this point the gameplay changes to the feel of an action adventure game, almost like a miniature Metroid style game. The player has two weapons at their disposal: A regular gun and a more powerful shot, the crash beam. The regular gun is unlimited, however the number of crash beam shots are based upon how many that were collected during the shoot-em-up section, though more are available to collect in this mode.
There is no jumping in the traditional sense, but the player can activate their rocket pack to move around vertically. Any movements and shooting made inside the fortress take away energy, though resting will regenerate the energy up to its maximum level. However, getting hit by an enemy will bring the total energy amount down, which will not recover with rest. At the end of each fortress is an energy core which must be destroyed. Once it is gone, there is a limited amount of time to find a vehicle and escape.
Air Fortress contained a password system to allow players to continue from where they left off.
After completing the game there is a second quest available with the same level layouts, but with more difficult enemies.
The following is taken verbatim from the opening text before starting the game:
The inhabitants of the planet Farmel have lived in peace since the establishment of the stardate calendar. They have traveled all around the galaxy with a new style spacecraft called the lightship. Then one day the peace was disturbed by a mysterious big fortress. it was living and destroying all the other civilizations. The federation of intergalactic power organized the defense forces immediately.
The federation forces were no match for the superior defenses of the air fortress. The fortreses totally destroyed all of the federation forces. The federation decided to select a specially trained person ID82592 named Hal Bailman. Hal's equipment includes a newly developed light blaster and armored suit. Now Hal departs to destroy the fortress and save Farmel.
- The lead character's name is Hal, from the developer of Air Fortress, HAL Laboratory.
- If the game was purchased directly from the publisher, a free Air Fortress shirt could be sent to the buyer.