My Life Through Video Games: Tom Cruise Edition

Top Gun

Konami, 1987

Nintendo Entertainment System

Whenever anybody thinks about the game Top Gun, what is the first thing you think of? I’m guessing it’s not a beach volleyball scene or anybody named “Goose.”
 It’s this:

That goddamned air craft carrier.

Your enjoyment of Top Gun largely rests on one simple question: Can you land on the aircraft carrier? And dear friends, I can tell you, yes I can land on the aircraft carrier! Some of the times!

Top Gun stars you, who I’m guessing are playing “Maverick” or something…I really don’t get the tie to the movie except for the name and the super awesome theme music. Anyway, you are flying an F-14 fighter equipped somehow with anywhere between 10 and 40 missiles. I’ll have you know, a real life F-14 can only equip six missiles. So your F-14 is truly extraordinarily advanced.

Your first mission isn’t really a mission, it’s training for the next mission. I’m totally serious.

See? It’s right there. You take off from the world famous aircraft carrier, and off to the sky you go, to shoot some planes down. And let me tell you, whomever is flying those planes are the worst pilots in the world. “Hey, I got an idea, I’m going to approach the target from the rear, and then fly juuuuust fast enough so that I can fly directly in front of him. Surely, this won’t result in me being shot down!” They also have very weak machines. Your Tomcat can withstand a whole slew of machine gun fire, while their planes will explode in mid air after a single bullet. Maybe they’re magic bullets to go along with your overstocked missiles?

After a fixed time, you get to land on the carrier. Succeed? Ten thousand bonus points! Score! You fail? Lose a life. That multi-million dollar plane you just lost in the Arabian Sea? No biggie! You get a brand new one to fly the next mission, which is to hunt down an enemy carrier and sink it (good thing you got all those missiles).

The third mission involves flying over Iran and attacking some sort of military installation in Iran. Now, I was pretty young in the 1980s, but I think I’d remember something about actual war in Iran that involved actual missions to shoot down the entire air force, sinking every ship in their navy, and then destroying their military installations.

Although, now that I’m thinking about it, you have zero wingmen along with you. You are the only American plane in the sky. Maybe it was a covert mission after all?

Anyway, I’ve heard there is a fourth mission, but it must be mythical, because in the literal hundreds of times I’ve played the game, I’ve never successfully completed the 3rdmission. I don’t think it’s possible. You know what? It can’t be possible! Because after losing three planes, you still get awarded Top Gun status. That’s the objective of going to Top Gun school right? So I won? I think I won. I’m ok with this.

If I can ditch a couple planes in the ocean AND get shot down AND still win Top Gun status? Clearly our Navy is in good hands!

Thanks for reading! Join us next time when I blitz through some totally not awful or waste of time Atari games! I swear it won’t be terrible!

Originally published at on May 17, 2017.

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