Wing Commander Academy Review – PC Format

After all the Underworld posts yesterday, I’ll rein myself back to an entry a day again for the moment. If you still want more Underworld, I’d strongly recommend having a look at the anniversary page over at the new home of Ultima Aiera ( There is an interview with Dan Schmidt (including a handful of questions from yours truly), design notes, concept art by Warren Spector and plenty more besides.

I’ve not started Wing Commander Saga yet so I’ll get back to some magazine scans today. These all come from the October 1993 PC Format. First is a review of Wing Commander Academy. It didn’t bowl the reviewer over and I can only agree in this case. It was a product that a lot of people had asked for to be fair but in my opinion it really could have done with coming out at least a year earlier if it was to find a large market:-

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This lack of timeliness is especially apparent when you see a 2 page advert for Privateer in the same issue, not that my PC could actually cope with Privateer when it came out. WCA did have that in its favour but it was still a poor option compared to any of the existing Wing Commander games or mission packs if you didn’t already own the lot. I’m sure I’ve got a proof and the negatives for this Privateer advert or at least a variant on it around here but I’ll save them for another time:-

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Not content with having a 2 page ad, there is also a full page for Shadow Caster:-

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Day 89 – Wing Commander Academy

It seems like a long time since I started a new game. Ultima 7 took a while but I continue alternating between Ultimas and Wing Commanders with the first spin-off game from the Wing Comander series.

Wing Commander Academy was an attempt to fill the gap between SO2 and Wing Commander 3. Its basically an engine to design your own wing commander missions.

All in all, that doesn’t sound too promising to me I have to say. The wing commander missions can be repetitive at the best of times. With no story to drive you forward it could be a little dull but I give it a go.

The intro is brief to say the least, we get a scrolling backdrop, a ship blows up another ship and the logo appears.

This dumps me straight into the options screen which shows the inside of a simulator. There isn’t much to do here other than create a mission or quit to dos.

The mission creation screen is full of buttons but fairly straightforward to use. I can create nav points and place objects or ships around it.

There are a couple of new ships to fly, a new wingman, some new weapons (including leech missiles which drain shields).

Theres also a gauntlet mode where you get 15 levels (each in 3 waves) of increasing difficulty.

Apart from the new ships which aren’t all that exciting there isn’t really anything new here. The engine is all but identical to WC2. Some of the planets rotate and the suns move a bit. The new ships are kind of interesting but ultimately this game seems pretty pointless. There just aren’t enough options available to make designing a mission all that interesting and we’ve already had 6 games out of this engine anyway which feature just about every mission you could conceive of.

Since there isn’t a way to win the game as such I figured I could call this one done as soon as I got bored with it, which was within about 15 minutes. It has to be the most pointless game Origin have ever released. Why they didn’t just add a short campaign of some description I’ll never know. At least the WC2 engine got put to better use with Privateer later the same year.

Years after this game there was a Wing Commander Academy cartoon series. I downloaded it from and worked my way through them a few weeks back – they even have the cast from WC3 & 4 doing the voices! Its not exactly intellectual as its obviously aimed at a young audience but its a lot more fun than the game was.

Next: Shadowcaster Ultima Underworld 2