Review: Turn and Burn: No-Fly Zone
Updated: Sep 29, 2021
The last place you’d expect to be activating the Central Air Data Converter and the Electronic Countermeasure System Display of a Grumman F-14 Tomcat is on a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Between the spacecraft rolling legend of Star Fox and the multi-layered experiment that is Super Strike Eagle, Turn and Burn: No-Fly Zone is one the closest things to a flight simulator you’ll find on the SNES.
Absolute Entertainment released Turn and Burn: No-Fly Zone in 1994. It is technically a sequel to Turn and Burn: The F-14 Dogfight Simulator (1992) for the Nintendo Game Boy, it was also available in Japan on the Super Famicom as Super Dogfight.
The flight mechanics and aircraft systems in Turn and Burn: No-Fly Zone is a product of a loosely affiliated series of flight games. Elements of the on-screen flight information and aircraft systems were first introduced in 1988. These systems would be reused and expanded upon over many years.
Point of View
Instead of opting for the standard third-person point of view that most flight games on the Super Nintendo did, this game was designed to be a first-person point of view experience. This endures throughout the game. Even the mission briefings are presented in the cockpit. In a way, that is a small step too far outside of the flight sim experience - but that's just a nitpick. Limiting the view during gameplay to the canopy of the F-14 Tomcat reinforces the need to rely on its computer systems. These systems are readily available and fully interactive, even on Novice difficulty. Holding the left or right shoulder button on the SNES controller allows the player to look backward at the Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) and behind the aircraft. This point of view has a specific role in gameplay. It is the primary way to deploy anti-missile countermeasures such as chaff and flares - they are identified as Electronic Counter Measures in the game. Overall the graphics presented in the game are pretty good for a Super Nintendo game. Objects at long distances are still visually challenging to identify. The radar and weapons systems are vital to combating every type of enemy before they are close enough to fill the Heads Up Display.
Aircraft Systems and Weapons
The management of aircraft systems is the highlight of Turn and Burn: No-Fly Zone. Several computer systems can be accessed and managed, even before you leave the deck of the aircraft carrier. Some are only available during takeoff, landing and mid-air refueling but a majority are available before takeoff and while in flight. Pressing the Y button cycles through these systems, which are shown on the Cockpit Computer Display (CCD). Once the desired system is displayed, holding the Y button while pressing the directional pad up or down will allow the subsystems to be selected. Once a subsystem is selected, it can be switched on or off by continuing to hold Y while pressing directional pad right. Flight Information gathered by the Automatic Flight Control System screens is readily available by pressing Y by itself - basic info like heading, speed, altitude and more are available beneath STAT 1 and STAT 2. Holding the Y button and pressing the directional pad up or down cycles through different radar modes. Further explanations of these key aircraft systems are provided below:
AUTOMATIC FLIGHT CONTROL SYSTEMS (AFCS) Systems that automatically select and show radar and flight data. Compass headings, compass directions, aircraft vectors. Systems can be shut off to allow for manual control over radar modes and other data.
AIRBORNE WEAPONS GROUP 9 RADAR SYSTEM The radar of the F-14 Tomcat which provides four modes: Detail Data Display (shows data for airspace at the nose of the aircraft), Pulse Doppler Search (cone shaped search area, has longest detection range), Range While Search (similar to Pulse Doppler with medium detection range), Track While Search (the shortest detection range but provides full view around the aircraft).
AIRBORNE WEAPONS GROUP 15 SYSTEM DISPLAY A mixture of weapons and radar systems needed for acquiring targets, firing weapons and avoiding incoming missile fire.
AWACS OPERATIONAL RADAR GRID Pressing the select button pulls up a full screen view of the combat zone as provided by an off map AWACS aircraft. In this view the F-14 can be steered towards selected enemies easily. It is also the easiest way to detect distant threats and plan accordingly.
BASIC FLIGHT INFORMATION Information such at speed, fuel, heading, altitude and more available on two screens labeled STAT 1 and STAT 2.
COMPUTER LANDING DISPLAY Shows position data vital to landing the aircraft onto an aircraft carrier. The data is visualized with a horizontal landing groove display.
ELECTRONIC COUNTERMEASURE DISPLAY Incoming missiles are heard as a warning buzzer with the rear quadrant of the aircraft shown. Enemy missiles are shown as red dots which approach the aircraft. As long as ECM systems are turned on, chaff and flare can be deployed to decoy the missiles while turning sharply to evade them.
LAUNCH SYSTEM Only available while launching from aircraft carriers, this system shows altitude, engine power percentage, carrier heading and fuel state. Increasing engine thrust to afterburner (210%) allows for takeoff clearance. While on the carrier deck, managing aircraft systems is possible before launching off the carrier.
The F-14 can carry up to four weapons at a time, depending on how deep in the campaign the player is. These weapons are explained below:
AIM-7 SPARROW Effective at medium-range, unable to hit targets at close range. When firing this missile at a target the lock must be maintained while it guides onto its target. Breaking the lock while it is airborne will cause it to lose its target.
AIM-9 SIDEWINDER Effective only at short range. Once fired the missile guides itself onto target without needing guidance after launch.
AIM-54 PHOENIX Effective at close range and beyond visual range. Before firing the missile, a target must be selected in the AWACS Operational Radar Grid. Once selected the Phoenix can be fired at targets flying anywhere in the combat zone. The missile guides itself onto target after it is fired.
M61 VULCAN This weapon system fires 20 mm cannon rounds at close range air and surface targets. Located on the left side of the aircraft’s nose, this weapon is best fired in short bursts to prevent overheating. Unlike the other weapons, the M61 does not have set ammo count.
Though access to aircraft systems is quite extensive, the actual combat found in each mission is less complicated. With 16 missions in total utilizing a limited number of enemy unit models and mission types, long sessions of gameplay can begin to feel repetitive. This is made somewhat worse by the limited scope of missions available to the player throughout the campaign. The primary airborne threat to the player is consistently the MiG-29 Fulcrum. Able to fire short-range missiles and its onboard cannon, the Fulcrum appears in varying numbers as the game progresses. Usually, the number of enemies in the air exceeds the number of missiles available on the player’s F-14. The skillful use of the M61 Vulcan cannon is needed. The primary surface based threat to the player are submarines capable of launching surface-to-air missiles (SAM). These SAMs are launched from beneath the ocean’s surface. This makes the submarines impervious to counterattack. Only flying a course to avoid them altogether or passing them at high speeds limits exposure to danger. Other air targets seen in-game include enemy intelligence aircraft, Tu-22 Backfire bombers, and a stolen SR-71 Blackbird - to name a few. Rather than attack them from a distance with missiles, the player is forced to approach these aircraft until they are in visual range. Selecting these targets in the AWACS Operational Radar Grid will allow the player to attack the target aircraft. Approaching these primary objective aircraft forces the player to transition to a separate scene. These pursuit scenes involve a cannon only attack as the F-14 slowly approaches the target. While closing distance, specific points of the aircraft must be targeted with the aircraft gun. They appear as orange and glowing points of light. Destroying these areas disables the target.
The same happens with ground and surface targets. After being selected in the AWACS Operational Radar Grid, these targets can then be approached. Once again the player is forced to enter the same close range, guns only attack sequence. Against these types of targets, the emphasis is placed on attacking their defenses. Anti-aircraft guns share the same orange, glowing animation. Removing these defenses enables allies to perform follow-on attacks at a later time. When set to Ace difficulty, enemies have increased armor, can evade missiles with higher success rates and cause more damage to the player with fewer attacks. Enemy attacks that strike the player can also shut down computer systems in the F-14 Tomcat. This emulation of battle damage to the aircraft is a simple but unique feature. Performing a mid-air restart of the fire control and ECM systems while evading a pair of MiG-29s adds a new layer of challenge. The presence of allies is thin throughout the game. At most, support comes in the form of off-map AWACS aircraft, the aircraft carrier, and the KA-6D Intruder tanker. The AWACS Operational Radar Grid must also be used for the player to interact with the aircraft carrier and KA-6D. After being selected in the AWACS grid, flying to these assets at the indicated altitude, airspeed, and direction activates specific mid-air refueling or landing sequences. Allied aircraft and warships cannot be called upon to attack the enemy mid-mission, leaving the player to defeat squadrons of aircraft and armored targets all on their own. Not even the computerized RIO in the backseat of the aircraft can do more than offer a supportive thumbs up after a successful landing.
Full game playthrough by Retro Warp.
CO-OP: A Human RIO
The most valuable ally is a second player. By plugging in a second controller, the entire campaign can be played cooperatively with player two acting as the Radar Intercept Officer. Player One maintains full control over maneuvering the aircraft, its computer systems, and weapons. Player Two can select weapons, fire weapons and cycle through aircraft systems to check their status and make adjustments. They can also activate and deploy Electronic Counter Measures with a single button press. This alleviates the need to use the somewhat disorienting over the shoulder view to launch countermeasures when playing single player. A competent pair of players can manage the challenges of Ace difficulty with the RIO handling aircraft systems and ECM, while the pilot focuses on within visual range combat and maneuvering the aircraft against surface based threats. The inclusion of couch co-op also opens the door for the obvious. Players choosing to sit in tandem, mimicking the real world layout of the F-14 Tomcat cockpit, blasting their favorite music.
Turn and Burn: No-Fly Zone is a game no one expected on the Super Nintendo. It’s a straightforward flight shooter that blends flight sim elements in an easily accessible experience.
About the Writer
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. A lifelong aviation enthusiast with a special interest in flight simulators and games. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating aviation related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He continues to explore past and present flight games and sims with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. | Twitter | Discord: RibbonBlue#8870 |