Set in the near future, players are assigned the latest in flight technology and four campaigns to play through - the testing range in Monument Valley, Arizona, and the war theatres in the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East with 99 missions in total, and multiple endings.
The player gets to choose between two semi-fictional aircraft, the F29 and the F22, both based on design proposals for the Advanced Tactical Fighter validation program, a competition arranged by the United States Air Force in 1981 which concluded in 1991, the year after the game's release. Because the winner wasn't known when the game was made, the F22 depicted in the game does not look anything like the F22 Raptor design that won the competition and started production in 1997, but rather early proposals for the Lockheed YF-23 (the F22's primary competitor), and the F29 design was used as the X29 Experimental Aircraft in tests by NASA from 1984 to 1991, but was then retired.
The cover art for re-prints of the game after 1991 features an aircraft that looks more like the actual F22, instead of the canard design of the original art, but the planes are still the same in-game.
The Amiga version of the game was notoriously bad, having been rushed to the market with several major bugs and missing music. The PC version fared better, but had some odd issues - it could only be installed to the C:\RETAL folder, otherwise it wouldn't launch, and even then it required the presence of a floppy in the A: drive to save, it couldn't save progress to it's own install folder. The sound card detection was also inconsistent, sometimes it would launch without any sound at all, or with music but no digitized or Adlib synthesized sound effects, and unlike most other games of the time there was no sound setup program, so you had to rely on the game's automatic sound card detection.