So what is special about Sopwith and its sequel? The best answer is that both games are just incredibly addictive and fun. Sopwith is a side-scrolling biplane action game involving two sides: cyan and magenta planes. Your goal in single-player is to destroy all of the enemy buildings and vehicles, either by shooting, bombing, or colliding with them. To stop you, the enemy has deployed planes to shoot you down and buildings that shoot anti-aircraft fire at you. Each level ends when all the enemy buildings and vehicles are destroyed, and is followed by a faster and more difficult level with the same map. Despite being an arcade game, all the elements of a good flight simulation are included, including limited ammo, ground-based artillery, limited fuel, and a limited number of bombs.
What makes Sopwith legendary is the ability to handle up to 8 players in multiplayer mode (4 human and 4 computer).
The original Sopwith did not have much of a physics model, and the AI was quite weak. Sopwith 2 improves upon the original in various ways, including more intelligent enemy planes, more enemies (inlcuding pesky birds), larger explosions, deformable terrain, and a cool real-time radar and mapping feature. Best of all, Sopwith 2 was coded with an internal timer that allows the game to play at the same speed on modern Pentiums as on IBM XT computers (similar to Alley Cat).
With exceptional playability, simple controls, and many surprises, Sopwith and Sopwith 2 are simply must-haves for every arcade fan. Also be sure to check out Sopwith: The Author's Edition-- the definitive and best version of the game, released as freeware by designer David Clark in 2000. Two thumbs up, way up!