I'm going to resort to my old pal MESS for the screenshots again. Yeah, I actually have all of the Fairchild VES carts for 1977, but it's easier to just rip it from MESS.
How to describe Spitfire when the game to which it would be easiest to compare doesn't yet exist? (*cough*Combat*cough*)
Here's three pictures (worth 1000 words each).
Just before take off.
Hmmm... actually "The Kill" looks closer to the beginning of a match than the picture "The Hunt" because usually the control tower disappears... not sure what was going on when I took that screenshot... little movies are better for demonstrating this sort of thing I think.
This is a game where the players each control an airplane with guns on it. At the beginning of the match, the planes actually take off from an air strip with what appears to be a control tower in the center. The planes take off moving towards each other (silently). When they get close enough to the tower it disappears. Then they are fighting in the "sky". The screen is wraparound, but bullets don't wrap. You fly around trying to shoot down your opponent and are rewarded, when successful, by seeing your enemy tumble out of the sky with sound effects.
The beauty of this cartridge is the fact you can play one-player against the console. No need to airdrop any friends in to play, just pop in the cart, fire up your VES and away you go.
I was expecting the special Fairchild controllers to be a Good Thing with this cart, but it felt to me that they were a little mushy. The control is like an airplane, push up and the front of the plane rotates down, pull back and the front of the airplane rotates up. To fire, you push down on the plunger. Unfortunately, this also tended to upset the direction in which my plane was traveling and made it hard to shoot my opponent.
/begin dreamy eyed foreshadowing/
It would be nice if there were a more refined battle game available for a home system, but, so far, the only thing similar in idea (outmaneuver and kill your enemy) is Desert Fox (VES, 1976), and that's not even close to refined. In 1977, we only have a few head-to-head, shoot-them-before-they-shoot-you types of games: Desert Fox (VES, 1976), Gunfighter/Moonship Battle (RCA, 1977) and now Spitfire. These games, the ones that let you invite a friend over and pretend to try to kill them, are very much the heart and soul of videogames. Here in 1977 we're hoping that someone gets it right, soon . . .
/end dreamy eyed foreshadowing/
Next entry: Videocart #5 - Space War