Another game joining the bulging genre of “party games” is Baron: Fur Is Gonna Fly, a new title coming direct from Dogmelon Games. Being released on Nintendo Switch as well as PS4 and Xbox One, taking the aerial battles of World War One as its inspiration, Baron: Fur Is Gonna Fly adds a little twist in that the brave heroes flying in their magnificent machines are all animals. So, does this party game stack up to the rest of the genre, or should it have stayed in the hanger? Tally ho, chocks away and let’s find out, shall we? Pip pip!
First impressions of Baron are good, and a large part of the game’s immediate charm is found in the music that accompanies the menus. In very nearly the style of Noel Coward, each character has a rousing ditty penned about them, along with piano accompaniment. The lyrics are very funny indeed, and quite often I’ve found myself not wanting to get on with playing the game until a particular song has finished. Featuring classic lyrics like “You wouldn’t want Old Yeller anywhere near a propeller!” and “Kittens are cute, kittens are cute, but not when they are on your tail preparing to shoot!”, I have really enjoyed the music on offer here. It’s nice to see the fruits of some genuine creative thinking, so a good mark must go out to Dogmelon Games.
The characters that you take control of are also an imaginative bunch. They range from the kind of commonplace, with Baron von Fluffe Botte (a dog) and Squadron Leader Mittens (a cat) working all the way up to Lieutenant Lewiss (a snake) and Sgt Billy (a kind of long-eared rat type thing). Ignoring the obvious questions like how does a snake operate the controls of an aircraft, the choice of character doesn’t make much difference to the overall fight that is ahead of you.
Graphically, Baron: Fur Is Gonna Fly works well, although I do have a couple of caveats to that statement. First off, the planes you fly, apart from having different stats and performing differently, are absolutely tiny. Now, with my advancing years has come failing eyesight, and I have to wear glasses to read these days, which makes me sad as I used to have perfect vision. That means the issue I have with this game is that the sprites are so small, and the action can be so fast, that it’s hard to see which way up your aircraft is. This obviously really matters when you’re trying to do aerobatics, as if you loop the loop while you are upside down, you will fly straight into the ground and die. So, while the aircraft will right itself if you don’t input a manoeuvre for a brief time, when you have lots of other planes all trying to shoot you to little bits, not moving is a sure-fire way to die; it’s a kind of devil and the deep blue sea type of moment. However, other than my eyes not being up to snuff, the rest of the graphical presentation is fine, with different planes and a variety of colours ensuring you never get confused as to what is what and who is who.
So on to the gameplay, and as you’d expect from this kind of party-styled game single player offerings are a little limited. There are various training missions, requiring you to pilot your aircraft skilfully enough to collect coins that are laid out in the sky, and also a mode where you have to single-handedly fight off an invasion of sheep. It’s pretty slim pickings, to be honest, although the sheep mode does a good job of teaching you how to shoot enemy aircraft down. When you get a few mates around though, Baron: Fur Is Gonna Fly is, quite literally, transformed. In fact I’ve never heard such bad language attached to a session on what is ostensibly a cute and fluffy fighting game.
Swooping around, shooting your friends in the face, using the special weapons that can be charged up (personal favourite being that of the flamethrower, which sees a truly ridiculous arc of flame flying from the front of your propeller, engulfing enemies and destroying them very quickly), and downing your former friends in a ball of flame has never been more fun. Judicious use of elbows is all but encouraged in this game, as when someone is on your tail, getting them off again without either crashing or flying into the stream of bullets from another pilot is all but impossible. Having human players elevates the whole game, as although you can play through the battle in the skies mode with AI pilots, they aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, and winning is pretty much a foregone conclusion. With real, living breathing people ready and willing to partake in some fun aerobatic battling next to you, all bets are off.
As such though, these types of multiplayer-centric party games are very hard to nail down with a definite approval, as the success you’ll find with it will ultimately depend on your friends, their willingness to get involved and their skills with a controller. If you have a regular group of friends who can be gathered together, thrown on a couch and want to play games as a few drinks are taken in, then Baron: Fur Is Gonna Fly on Xbox One is a great entry into the genre. If, however, you don’t have that regular group who are always around, drinking your beer and eating your biscuits, then it’s most definitely a somewhat harder sell. I don’t feel that there is enough here with Fur Is Gonna Fly for a lonesome player to enjoy, but add friends and you’re going to be in for a fun old time.