Aero Fighters 3 (known in Japan as Sonic Wings 3) is a vertical-scrolling shoot 'em up developed by Video System and released by SNK for arcades (using Neo Geo MVS hardware) on October 12, 1995.
The sequel to Aero Fighters 2, Aero Fighters 3 puts the players in control of heavily-modified World War II-era warplanes (due to a surprise attack by enemy forces effectively wiping out the world's modern state-of-the-art military aircraft). This installment is known for its branching level paths (based on which side of certain aircraft is destroyed first), and numerous guest appearances from other Video System games.
The game was also released for the Neo Geo AES exclusively in Japan on November 17, 1995, and was ported to the Neo Geo CD on December 8, 1995. It was later digitally re-released as part of HAMSTER's Arcade Archives series, first on March 15, 2018 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, then on November 30, 2018 for the PC.
Aircraft & Characters
The game includes a new roster of 10 World War II-era aircraft, each with their own unique weaponry and pilot. Similar to the first game in the series, players are limited on their choice of aircraft based on their player side and the nationality of the other player's aircraft (with only 5 possible team combinations). The game also includes a hidden squad based on the studio's earlier shoot-'em-up entries.
While no aircraft makes a return from the previous game, most pilots return in playable form (with others relegated to ending cameos). Along with some new additions, the game features numerous guest characters from Video System's earlier games.
- F4U Corsair (P1) - Piloted by the cyborg Robo Keaton (Mecha-Keaton in the Japanese version).
- P61 Black Widow (P2) - Piloted by a triple-team known as the "Blazers" (consisting of Glen, Gil, and Glenda, the first two of which are from the 1991 game Karate Blazers).
- Seiran (M6A1) (P2) - Piloted by the idol singer Mao-Mao.
- IL2 Stormovik (P1) - Piloted by the twin sisters Chaika & Pooshka.
- Polikarpov I-16 (P2) - Piloted by the genius dolphin Spanky (Whity in the Japanese version).
- DO335 Pfeil (P1) - Piloted by fighter pilot Malcolm, who is from the 1993 game Tao Taido.
- Whirlwind (P1) - Piloted by the boy pilot Alex, who is accompanied by his cat Pictus.
- Swordfish (P2) - Piloted by the aristocratic child Cindy (Cincia in the Japanese version) and her tutor Ellen (who is getting married).
This squad is hidden from the character select screen and is only playable with a cheat code.
- Aka Usagi (P1) - A rabbit-shaped spacecraft (the royal space mecha "USAGI") based on Rabio from the 1987 game Rabbit Punch. Piloted by Kotomi, one of the twin princesses who also appeared in Rabbit Punch.
- Diabloon (P2) - A turbo-charged sports car based on the playable ship from the 1991 game Turbo Force. Piloted by an unknown figure, later revealed to be Count Waffle (Captain Waffle in the Japanese version) from the 1990 game Spinal Breakers.
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