Battle Squadron review - Sega Megadrive

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Earth has been at war with evil Barrax Empire for hundreds of years. Millions are dead, and not many people are very happy about it. Two such people are Commanders Berry D Mayers and Lori Bergen. After a successful battle mission, they have been kidnapped by the Barrax Empire on the return journey to Terrainia - and it just so happens that they're being held hostage on the flag ship of the Barrax Empire's battle fleet.

Enter the player (and his friend, if he's got one). They've risen to the challenge of busting out Bergen and Mayers and travel along the vertically scrolling worlds of the Barrax Empire, destroying the enemy battle fleet in their search for the hostages.

There's a huge variety of enemy craft in the fleet, and arcade shoot 'em skills are tested to the max if you choose to take on the enormous fleets of fighters and even more enormous mid-level and end-of-level guardians!

What the Mean Machines staff thought

Reviewer

" Although Battle Squadron has the option for simultaneously two-player blasting and a full screen to its credit, there's a couple of major let-downs that stop it from being a terrific game. First of all, the extra weaponry is dull and uninteresting compared to the likes of Truxton. Your joypad is also likely to wear out because a rapid fire option hasn't been included. The sound is a bit disappointing. Apparently, Rob Hubbard was contractually bound to copy the Amiga version's tunes and they're not really suited to the game at all - this strikes me as a real waste of the Hubbard's talent. Battle Squadron is still a very addictive game with excellent graphics, I just think that the potential of the game has been fully realised. Try out Hellfire for the ultimate Megadrive blast. "

" Sporting some stunning graphics, this is one of the most attractive Megadrive blasters around - the backdrops and sprites are excellent. It's not just a pretty face, either - it's tough too, especially when you play it on the single-player option. The odds are really stacked against you, with a huge amount of enemy craft all with their sights locked onto your ship - if you don't grab some power-ups quick (and hold onto them) you don't stand much of a chance. Personally I love this sort of situation, but there are some people in the office who found the high difficulty level really offputting. Check it out if you're a hardened blasting fan. "

Reviewer

Overall Score85%

Retrospective comments

Reviewer

Don't be mistaken: on its default settings, this game certainly makes you earn every point of your score. It's harder than my mum's meatloaf and relentless in its intent to bombard you with as many bullets as it can muster. To help you along, there are a few unique options to access from the get-go to tone down the game's death-spewing agenda.

Before you even launch your first oh-so-doomed craft into the alien hordes, you can adjust a few play elements. Naturally, there's the usual lives and continues counts to increase (just shut up and do it already). But then there are also the options to tweak both the amount of onscreen bullets and the speed at which they're hurled at your ship. Very handy.

Graphically the game's nothing to gasp at, with the overall look having an Amiga sheen to it. Everything is a little gaudy and the animation's not that much chop in places. Although it's all crisp and well defined, stylistically there's a sort of generic, slightly unimaginative feel to the design. There is, however, one neat trick which still deserves mentioning: some enemies have a cloaking device. This sees them merging with the background, with only faint Predator-esque traces giving any clue to their position.

It's the same story with the aural aspects of the game. The music and sound effects aren't bad, but they're not head-swimmingly brilliant either. The tunes are stirring enough, but lack any real hummable hook, which is a shame as apparently Rob Hubbard was responsible. However, if the Mean Machines review is to be believed, the maestro was merely hired to replicate the original Amiga tunes - obviously a wasted opportunity. The shooting action would have been made more enjoyable had some truly rousing and memorable Hubbard compositions been used to urge the player on. Y'know, something like his amazing score for Lightforce.

Now, all this probably sounds like I'd advise avoiding this shmup. And you'd be right... maybe. It actually plays pretty well, though it can sometimes feel sluggish despite the bullet hell that's raining down on you. If you don't like a tough blast, then the graphics and sound aren't gonna be enough to make you hang around. However if you enjoy a challenge, armed with a weapon that can seem as powerful as a piece of wet toilet paper (did I mention the lack of autofire?) and facing seemingly insurmountable odds, then this is for you. Guess what? I dig those odds. Okay, maybe with the bullet count turned down just a little...

- Cal 'buzz_clik' Skuthorpe

Chris Mcevoy - 03 Oct 2013, 01:31 GMT

I remember when you reviewed this, you had a 2 page spread with a screen shot of the game stretched across the 2 pages, this game was pants but I remember this was one of my favorite issues of any magazine, it introduced me to the word sprite and was just a fantastic memory.

Mean Machines Issue 4 - January 1991
Issue4
Shoot 'Em Up Sega Megadrive
Electronic Arts
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Battle Squadron

Battle Squadron

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