Title Battle Squadron (Second Review) Game Type Shoot-em-up Players 1 - 2 (simultaneous) Copatibility OCS, ECS and AGA (no enhancements for better chipsets.) HD Installable Yes (WHDLoad install) Submission Nathan Wain Profiled Reviewer Review BRIEF DESCRIPTION This game is your classic style vertically scrolling shooter. (Like Xevious, Slapfight, Vulgus, etc.) It's one from the A500 era of games, and had gorgeous graphics flying all over the screen. It has dated very little as a result. SPECIAL HARDWARE/SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS A joystick. (Surprise, surprise.) Well, mouse control is also possible, but joystick is certainly recommended. COPY PROTECTION The usual disk-based copy-protection. The WHDLoad installer does make it possible to make a more permanent backup of the game also. MACHINES USED FOR TESTING A500, 0.5Meg Chip, 0.5Meg Fast, Kickstart 1.2, external Floppy drive, Thompson RGB monitor. A1200, 2Meg Chip, 32Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 340 Meg Seagate 2.5" HDD, GVP Cobra accellerator-board (68030 and 68882 at 50MHz, without SCSI), additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 MultiSync monitor. A4000, 2Meg Chip, 112Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD, Apollo 4040 daughter board (68040 at 40MHz, with SCSI and 96Meg of local RAM), PicassoIV Graphics Card, VLab video-digitiser, Toshiba 16x CD-Rom, 2 internal floppy-drives, D-Link 56k Modem, Philips 15" LCD monitor. Battle Squadron worked identically on the first two machines. Only the WHDLoad version has ever been tried on the A4000. The game behaved the same on all setups. FIRST IMPRESSIONS Wow, this is one impressive looking, and sounding game. From when it first starts the catchy music and the impressive waves of sprites on screen will have you wanting to play. The game is easy enough to pick up on .. if it moves, kill it. I like this kind of no-nonsence plot. (Actually, there is a background story, but it's the usual "rescue your captured comrades from the evil aliens" blurb, so I won't dwell on it.) When the game starts you begin to fly above the first section of terrain: a desolate rocky landscape, with the occasional metallic bunker just waiting to be destroyed by laser-fire. Then waves of craft start to appear, and fly down to meet you. The actual patterns of enemies seems very much like a 1942 or BansheeAGA style of game. Some of the enemy squadrons will, if wiped out, leave behind a smart bomb icon. Each player starts with three of these, and can use them at any time. Extra smarts are well worth the effort to obtain. The fire-power of your craft is nothing spectacular, but occasional powerup ships will appear. Shooting those will reveal a powerup of arbitrary colour. Collecting it will boost your firepower if its colour matches your shots, or will change to a different shot-type if any other colour. The colour of the power-up will change as it floats down the screen. Once a ship is fully powered up the screen is positively filled with destruction. With some shot-types this firepower is well concentrated in front of the ship, other types will direct some of it behind, or give a more dispersed shot-pattern. It quickly becomes aparant that there is a choice of routes that can be taken to complete the game. The main path is flown over the planet surface, and there are occasional entry points into subterranean levels. These can be entered at any time, but some are particularly tough if you haven't built up a reasonable level of firepower before entering. Each of the subterranean levels has its own look and assortment of enemies .. and these levels are concluded with a particularly powerful enemy, which will take many shots to kill and allow progression to the planet surface again. GENERAL OPINION This game is one anyone can just sit down and play straight away. It's your traditional shoot-em-up, with a few nice touches to give its own unique feel to this well worn genre. The function of everything is well indicated, and very little written instruction is required to get anyone settled in. Its non-linear level design gives a nice element of flexibility to progression in the game, as does the free choice of firepower. And there is a good variety to the enemies in each level, giving a nice explorative feel to it. (The toughness of some makes it quickly apparent if you've ventured into an area too soon.) One of the really interesting enemies in the game is one equipped with an invisibility cloak. Nasty but beautiful things to fight. (It's an impressive visual effect.) They are visible enough to see, but can easily be missed in the heat of battle. CONCLUSIONS Wow. Simply, wow. It's just amazing what these programmers have managed to get the Amiga to do in the space of a single disk and the limitations of that hardware. And the real treat is that it's a beautiful, and immensely fun thing to play. It has a nice (if a little clichi) storyline, a 100% action path to completion, and a satisfying end story if one is ever lucky enough to get there. The simultaneous two-player option allows you to get a friend immmersed in the fun of it all too. Well worth it, as this game plays very well with a second player to assist in those tricky moments. This game is one of those classics that just has everything to recommend it.