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Battle Squadron

version: pal - year: 1990 - developer: innerprise software - publisher: electronic arts - format: mega drive, cartridge - condition: mint - rarity: hard to find

Port of the Amiga original

 

To finish the game, you'll need to clear the 3 underground areas

 

Backgrounds are very detailed, although sometimes they use almost the same colors of the ship. Let's see if you can actually spot it...

 

Weapons can be powered up exponentially up to 5 levels of firepower

 

Bosses are actually not very hard

 

Sometimes, backgrounds make it difficult to spot bullets

 

The last boss has 2 forms but again, he's not very hard

Review - Battle Squadron is most certainly remembered by Amiga gamers as one of the best vertical shooters on the machine, rightfully eclipsing other more renowned games such as Xenon II Megablast.

I still remember enjoying Battle Squadron great simultaneous 2-players mode when I used to own it back in the day. Spiritual sequel of the great euro sci-fi vertical shooter Hybris, it retained that unmistakable mix of arcade feel and Danish programming.

I recently realized the game had been ported to Mega Drive , and the prospect of playing it once more proved to be too tempting to be ignored.

Graphically, Battle Squadron is well done. The main ship is big and convincingly animated while enemies come in a variety of different shapes and waves. Backgrounds are very detailed and the underground sections are truly impressive and they sport a unique organic look. The color palette of the Mega Drive is put to excellent use to deliver some great-looking graphics. The scrolling is also very smooth and the playing field is simply huge.

Noticeably, some parallax scrolling has been added in the underground sections (it was absent in the original Amiga release) and it surely makes the game look better although it influences, somewhat negatively, gameplay.

How is that possible, you might ask? Well, I don't know what went through the programmers' head because your ship and the enemy waves (and bullets) will be hidden by the parallax layer on the foreground, as you'll be flying underneath it! Because of this, it isn't uncommon to lose many ships just because at times, you'll only be able to see your ship intermittently while you won't be able to tell if you're flying into enemy fire.

This probably sounds catastrophic but it isn't as bad as it sounds because you can often fly next to the parallax layer, where the ship is visible. Also, you'll often be able to see where bullets are first shot and you'll need to figure out their trajectory when they are hidden to successfully avoid them! This element makes Battle Squadron a very unique playing experience although I am not sure it was programmed this way on purpose...

Moreover, some enemy ships use a camouflage technique a bit like the one used by the Predator, meaning they are see-thru but you can see something like a wave-effect on the background when they move around. The effect is extremely well done but it also increases the difficulty, especially in the underground levels where visibility is limited.

Some enemies will be firing homing missiles which are tiny and cannot be destroyed so you'll necessarily have to slalom your way through them a couple of times before they finally give up on chasing you. Doing this while the screen is full of ships and enemy fire isn't the easiest thing to do…

In order to alleviate the difficulty level, you can go to the option screen and increase the number of continues and ships at your disposal and it is even possible to decrease the number of bullets and their speed on screen!

Despite these options, Battle Squadron remains one of the most challenging shooters on Mega Drive. It only has 3 levels though, so if you are only a little bit skilled with shooters, it won't be long before you master it…

About the differences with the Amiga version, this Mega Drive port adds (aside from the parallax scrolling) instant loading time, remixed music (some tunes are even better although they are a bit let down by the MD sound chips which are definitely worse than the Amiga's) and the ability to drop smart bombs only by pressing a button, without the need to move in a circle. This means you can be much faster in using smart bombs and you hardly unleash them by mistake, like it often was the case in the Amiga version.

Battle Squadron looks and sounds attractive but it's very hard and a bit short. In the end, it's just like a pure shot of adrenaline. Only skilled, hardcore shmuppers should measure themselves with it. The rest should just pass it up!

N.B: It should be noted that the Pal version of Battle Squadron works on a US Genesis without the need of an adapter and in glorious 60hz!

Bottom line: a very nice port of the original amiga masterpiece, which is a bit let down by some awkward use of parallax. 7/10


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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