F29 Retaliator

The game

Description and gameplay

The program is a typical example of games developed at the height of the Cold War, based mostly on speculations on the future machines of war. According to the promotional text, Retaliator is a flight simulation program based upon two of the most revolutionary aircraft designs ever conceived: The Lockheed F-22 Advanced Tactical Fighter and Grumman F-29, aka X-29. The Grumman X-29 has been developed as a technology demonstrator towards creating the ultimate fighter aircraft and was a genuine contender for the USAF's new advanced tactical fighter but is now unlikely to enter service as it was judged too risky and too costly in terms of performance for the ATF. However new studies have shown a forward swept wing STOVL (Short Take Off and Vertical landing) multi-role supersonic fighter which could be feasible in the late 1990's thanks to improved engine performance. The F-29 shows great potential for the next generation advanced tactical fighter, around 2007 to 2012.

F29 was released in 1990 on the then dominating Commodore Amiga computer and could ran as fast on a 386 25 MHz PC, which was the high-end machine of the day. The graphics were detailed by the standards of the period, with cities, bridges, roads, islands, mountains and moving vehicles. The cockpit was pretty exciting, with 3 Multi-function displays available to set up in a number of configurations.

Ocean Software and Digital Image Design promised a hi-tech combat flight simulator that would feature top-secret USAF fighters. They created a game that featured the most advanced airplanes in the world, F22 and F29. F29 Retaliator is quite fast and realistic, but at the cost of the true 3D landscape. The player can really feel the speed of the aircraft (and have trouble turning around on time if he/she missed the target), but the terrain is awful by today's standards. Overall, the game is fun despite the terrain graphics. The graphics are on par with games from this time period, and the airplanes are easy to control. The reality factor is there in the details with the pilot ending up unconscious if the plane turns too fast, flying around with the gears down damages them and more. For a complete gaming enjoyment downloading the manual is crucial, since it contains all the mission information and the players are not briefed in the game.

The landing is infamously tricky in the game and starting might not work on first try either, but flying and handling the planes are a real pleasure. The game includes four war scenarios (US desert test and training sites, Pacific conflict, Middle East conflict and a European war) each with several missions, with the number of those adding up to 90. The enemy planes are mostly MiG-29s and Su-27s. It also has an infamous soundtrack played during the menu selection screens, and good sound effects.

The PC version allowed head-to head dogfighting using a null modem cable.


  • The (real) F22 on the box covers looks nothing like the (fictional) F22 that is actually in the game. Also, contrary to what many believe, the F29 does exist (though not as a fighter), as the X29 experimental aircraft and, in contrast to the above mentioned F22, the F29 and the real X29 look the same.
  • This game is widely regarded as being quite bugged. One amusing example is that even after ejecting, the player still has control of the plane, so it's actually possible to hit him/herself with it.

External Reference

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