Game Reviews

Battle Squadron ONE

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Battle Squadron ONE

Battle Squadron is one of those games that crusty old retro lovers often drone on about when you mention the word 'shooter' to them.

Originally released on the 16-bit Amiga in 1989 (but also ported to the Sega Mega Drive shortly afterwards), this vertically-scrolling shmup borrows many elements from Japanese examples of the genre, such as Tatsujin, Star Soldier, and Xevious.

What made (and still makes) Battle Squadron so impressive is that in many ways it's superior to the games from which it takes so much inspiration. The action is tight, the visuals are compelling, and the level structure - which boasts innovative optional 'sub' stages - keeps you coming back for more.

Blaster master

Although touch controls are included (these replicate the same system used when the game was released on the iPhone last year), the Android iteration also includes Xperia Play support, and is vastly improved as a result.

The D-pad offers far more precision, meaning that the game plays much closer to how it was originally intended to way back in '89.

There are a few problems with the controls, however - the Circle button on the Xperia Play still acts as the 'back' button, and accidentally pressing it will close down the game completely and dump you back to the phone's home screen.

Drop the bomb

Such sloppy optimisation is forgivable, however, largely because Battle Squadron ONE is such a blast to play. It's challenging without being painful, and rarely do you feel as if your reflexes are being tested at a superhuman level - which is often the case with some modern shooters.

Some of you may find that off-putting, but for all us mere mortals it's a definite consolation.

While fans of rigorously demanding bullet-hell blasters like DoDonPachi Resurrection may find the pace a little sedate, Battle Squadron ONE is much easier to get into - thanks largely to the excellent and responsive controls - and should consequently find a larger audience.

Battle Squadron ONE

The beloved Amiga classic finds a new lease of life on the Xperia Play; the phone's physical interface is perfect for some 16-bit blasting action