Review: Japanese Otaku City R/C Flight
Updated: May 3
The high-tech, hard-hitting SAF-22 Slayer air dominance fighter actually strolls over city crosswalks quite nicely. Its ability to snap turn into the tight alley between the CV24 corner store and the maid cafe is fitting for a fictional generation 5+ fighter. It's OK if you're raising an eyebrow in question. Japanese Otaku City R/C Flight shows that Project ICKX knows how to have some simple fun while riffing off of their most well known release in the West.
For those that have never heard of them, Project ICKX is a Japanese indie development team that also acts as somewhat of a production team. The original members have been releasing flight games since 2010. Their easiest to access and most well known title is Vertical Strike: Endless Challenge. It has gradually joined the libraries of flight arcade enthusiasts thanks to a mixture of factors, but mainly it being available on Steam and Nintendo Switch.
The subject of this review is their game Japanese Otaku City R/C Flight. It's a free to download flight experience that lets players fly in a remote control aircraft sized model of the SAF-22 Slayer from Vertical Strike: Strike Endless Challenge. It's not an actual RC aircraft, just a scaled down version of the model from Vertical Strike. The setting this time not being a battlefield, but "Japanese Otaku City".
The city is an asset for the Unity game development platform created by Zenrin, a leader in worldwide map publishing. Data from Zenrin is used to create car navigation software, residential maps, and similar products in countries around the world. "Japanese Otaku City" is based on Akihabara, Japan - a famous area around Akihabara station in Tokyo's Chiyoda ward that is considered an otaku cultural center. It's the first city asset released by Zenrin for free commercial and non-commercial use with proper accreditation. Altogether they offer over 70 different 3D models of cities in Europe, Japan, and North America for use by game developers. After being welcomed to the city on the radio by JOC Approach and taking off from a highway, you are free to roam the skies, streets, train tracks, and river. A large part of the city around Akihabara station makes up most of the play area. While the map is created using real 3D map data, one cannot expect to see all of the advertisements and promotions of the electronics stores, manga shops, and maid cafes that reside there. You won't be making a mid-mission landing at Mandarake or the AKB48 Theater but keen-eyed observers familiar with this city can pick out certain buildings and landmarks that represent those businesses.
The few bits of signage available are mostly generic with simple names like "French Fries" and "Amusement". Other buildings feature Query Lovecraft, aka 'Query-chan'. She is a digital mascot created by Japanese game company, Pocket Queries inc. Truthfully, Query-chan fits in perfectly here. That's Akihabara for you. Makes you wonder if we'll ever get a Query Lovecraft themed SAF-22.
With no need to dodge missiles or deal with enemy fighters patrolling the sky, the experience centers on free flight in an unusual setting. Leisurely exploring the city can quickly turn into daredevil flying. After adjusting to the size of the RC fictional fighter, you'll find yourself eyeing gaps in billboards and tight alleyways thinking "I wonder if I can fly through there?" The game is forgiving when colliding with objects, but running into things at high speed will cause the aircraft to explode. This results in the game starting over from the highway for takeoff. It's no real penalty, but if you weren't paying attention to the map, you'll lose track of your latest self-imposed challenge location.
The aircraft control scheme and handling are the same as Vertical Strike. All options in the mid-game pause menu are also the same. The aircraft is not equipped with any weapons or flares, as they are unneeded. Instead, focusing on speed and control while toggling the angle of attack limiter on and off to pull of risky maneuvers is the only real danger players will face. This is the same ability seen in Vertical Strike that enables aircraft to do wild flips and perfectly balance its thrust-to-weight ratio to hover above terrain.
The ability to land anywhere can make for some fun pictures. Randomly landing on buildings can lead to driving the aircraft around streets and bridges at high speeds, in what may-or-may-not be an attempt to become the first aircraft to win the D1 Grand Prix. That or deliver tofu quickly. For those that want to know, the sweet spot for the best turn radius on the ground is just a little below 500km/h (260 knots). Rely on yaw, short bursts of acceleration and air brake to drive all around the city. You're welcome.
So why even mention a small game like Japanese Otaku City R/C Flight? It can serve as an introduction to Project ICKX style games and flight models for players that have never heard of them before. And unlike a majority of their other full games that are difficult to acquire because they are primarily distributed at in-person events, this game is free to download from their website. No deep understanding of the Japanese language needed to enjoy the game either. Just install and fly!
About the Writer
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.