The goal is to destroy as many enemies as possible or specific enemies, while avoiding things that may cause your ship to take damage.
Your current score for the mission, any Shield Rings you have collected, and your Shield Gauge are displayed at the top left of the screen. Your remaining vehicles, number of smart bombs, and boost gauge are displayed in the upper left corner. If a character speaks, their face, shield gauge, and speech will appear in the lower left corner. On the 3DS, conversations will appear on the lower screen.
- Shield Gauge: This represents the state of your shield. Some of the color will disappear if you take damage. When all of the color disappears, you will lose a vehicle. You can collect rings to refill it or increase its size.
- Boost Gauge: This will turn red and begin moving to the right when you use a technique. When you stop the technique or it fills completely, it will begin moving to the left. You cannot initiate another technique until it turns blue again. It takes 4 seconds to fill or empty it completely.
- Boosting and Braking: Your ship doesn't have to move at a constant speed. Use these techniques with any vehicle to help make navigation easier. The Boost Gauge will fill for as long as you hold the boost or brake button down. At 4 seconds, the effect will automatically terminate.
- Somersaults: If an enemy on your tail is shooting at you, do a somersault to get behind them. You can also collect multiple items stacked vertically if you somersault when you hit the first one. This technique does not work on the Landmaster. It uses 25% of the Boost Gauge.
- U-turns: In all range mode, you can turn around quickly with this technique. It uses 50% of the Boost Gauge if you initiate it. It uses 75% of the Boost Gauge when the edge of a battle space initiates it. This can happen even if the Boost Gauge is red.
- Barrel Rolls: Do one of these to deflect enemy shots. They can be done even if the Boost Gauge is red.
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- Enemies and projectiles (lasers, missiles, etc.). Note that some projectiles can be destroyed, so shoot often!
- Objects like asteroids, buildings, other ships, and debris.
- Environmental hazards like lava.
If your shield gauge empties completely and you take more damage, your vehicle will crash. You will lose one ship and have to restart the level. Your wingmen's shield gauges will reset to the level they started the mission with. If you passed through the mission's checkpoint, you will restart in its vicinity with the number of hits you had when you passed through it. If you run out of vehicles, your game will be over. If you made it on the top ten high scores list, you can enter your initials.
After the game over, you will return to the title screen and you will have to start the game over from the very beginning.
Most of the game is played in Corridor Mode. You can maneuver around most of the screen, but you can't go backward or stop your overall forward momentum. You can occasionally choose which of two paths to take (on Corneria and Sector X, for example), but most of the time you will simply follow one set path. Your camera will toggle between cockpit view and third-person view. Unless you want a challenge, stay in third-person view.
Here, you can fly in any direction. Your camera will toggle between close up and farther out. Your radar will show most of the important items in the battle zone. The yellow triangle represents your ship. The triangle may have a different color if you're playing Vs., in which case there will also be at least one other triangle representing your opponent(s). Small dots on the radar indicate flying enemies that usually wont shoot at you. The black fighters represent Star Wolf. Large gray circles represent an item, usually a Supply Container, Laser Upgrade, or Smart Bomb.
Your primary weapon is your laser. Collecting a Laser Upgrade will give you Double Lasers, which fire two shots at once. An additional upgrade will give you Hyper Lasers, which deal twice as much damage per shot. If you lose a wing or die, your ship will revert to Single Lasers. It is not possible to upgrade your lasers while driving the Landmaster.
If you hold your fire button down, you will stop firing and a ball of light will appear on the nose of your ship. Your aiming cursors will then turn red and yellow (and appear if you hid them). When a close enough foe passes through them, the red cursor will lock onto them. Tap your fire button again to shoot a charged shot at that target. The laser will follow it until it hits something. If your foes are flying in a group and you lock onto one of them, the charged shot will destroy all of the foes within its blast radius. You will get one point for the first enemy and two points for each additional enemy hit.
Bombs are powerful projectiles that create a large explosion when detonated, dealing a lot of damage to anything in the vicinity. You'll start each life with three bombs, regardless of the number you had when you died. You can usually collect more. Bombs are best used on large groups of enemies (try locking on to one of them first) or on some bosses.
You can collect items by touching them with your vehicle. Enemies often drop items when defeated, usually supply rings.
- Supply Ring: It is silver and refills your shield gauge by a few units. It is the most common item.
- Shield Ring: Collecting three of these gold rings increases the size of your shield gauge. If you have taken too much damage, it will refill your shield gauge partially without increasing its size. Collect six of these for an extra vehicle.
- Special Ring: This large silver four-pointed star refills about half of a normal shield gauge.
- Smart Bomb: This increases your bomb supply by one. It looks like a small red gem with a flat face and a "B" printed on it. It is fairly rare.
- Laser Upgrade: This increases the power of your laser. If you are missing a wing, it will be replaced by a Wing Repair. It cannot be found in Landmaster levels.
- Wing Repair: This repairs structural damage, like missing wings. It can only be found in Training or when you are missing a wing.
- Supply Container: When you receive an incoming message from ROB64, he might send you one of these. Shoot it to release its contents. If you have Single Lasers, it probably contains a Laser Upgrade. If you have Double or Hyper Lasers, it probably contains a bomb. It can also contain a Special Ring.
After pressing START at the title screen, you will be sent here.
Practice flying the Arwing here. You will receive messages informing you of the moves you can do and how to do them. If you reach 100 points in the All-Range Mode section, a Wolfen, or similar fighter, will appear. It will try to shoot you down, but you can use it to practice taking down Star Wolf.
Play against your friends in All-Range Mode. The Handicap feature lets you change the strength of your shield. Setting 1 gives you a full shield meter and setting 3 gives you about half of a shield meter. If you reach the edge of the play field, you will warp to the other side, but your lasers and bombs will not. One Laser Upgrade and one Bomb will appear after a few seconds. The bomb will return after it is used. If a player is killed, their power-ups will be left behind for anyone to pick up. If you are missing a wing, the Laser Upgrade will warp away when you touch it.
- Point Match: Choose between Corneria and Sector Z. Shoot down the number of you opponents that you select to win.
- Battle Royal: Choose between Corneria and Sector Z. The last player standing wins.
- Time Trial: Choose between Katina and Sector Z. Select the time of play and then shoot the most enemy craft in that time to win.
View the top ten scores from the Main Game. You can see the scores for each level, which wingmen survived each level, and any medals received by each player.
Toggle between Mono, Stereo, and Headphone output. You can also change the proportions of Music, Voice, and Sound Effects.
Erase all save data. You will be asked if you're serious upon entering.