We were lucky enough to get an early look at the just-released title MiniSquadron by developer MrFungFung, so we have been having a good deal of fun with this 2D airplane shooter for several days now.
In MiniSquadron, players control one 50+ unlockable planes using a virtual joystick and a fire button. Your goal is to survive wave after wave of airborne enemy including ducks, seagulls, UFOs, devil planes, propeller planes, and even squids by shooting down anything that gets in your way. Each of the game’s 8 levels challenges players with 12 waves of enemies. There are periodic checkpoints (after certain waves) that allow players to pick up where they left off, should they meet an early demise. At your disposal are a variety of cool power-ups and an interesting arsenal of weaponry including homing missiles, bombs and even frickin laser beams!
The controls may be simple, but worked flawlessly. Our brave aircraft turned on a dime and handled like a dream. There is an option to toggle the control sensitivity, but we had no issues what-so-ever with the default setting. The motion and physics of the plane felt smooth and natural and the developer even thought of a few neat twists to keep you on your toes like the plane’s tendency to stall if you are going too slow or the ability to gain supersonic speed by flying fast toward the Earth.
When an enemy aircraft is off the screen, you will see a little arrow representing where they will be coming back into the screen, which is great for planning your attacks. There is also a counter at the top of the screen which displays how many more ships need to be destroyed to complete the wave. The only thing that we felt was missing was power meter to display how close to death you are. This game is an absolute blast to play, but we did find the difficulty level to be a little too easy at times, mostly due to the ability to continue where you left off (assuming you’ve reached a checkpoint). We would love to see a hardcore mode added, where there are no checkpoints within a level, requiring the player to survive all 12 waves in one go.
In addition to the single-player campaign, MiniSquadron features a local wifi multiplayer mode where you can challenge your friends to a one-on-one dogfight to the death. Unfortunately due to the fact we were running an adhoc build of the game, we were unable to test out this feature for our review. Although, if the single-player mode is any indication, we can imagine this would be a lot of fun to play.
We are big fans of MiniSquadron’s shaded vector graphical style and the barrel roll and crashing plane animations looked great. One nice little touch is the gray scale effect used when a player finishes a level. MiniSquadron’s in game music consists of a selection of classical music and there is no option to listen to your own music instead. While not our immediate choice of music, the classical music does give the game a 20’s style silent film feel which is pretty cool.
Really, our only disappointment with the game is the look of the menus. They just seemed kind of 1990’s-web page like and didn’t really fit with the nice graphics and polish of the rest of the game. Don’t get us wrong, the actual functionally of the menus is fine, they just come off as a little unfinished. If these could be spiffed up, we think the game would have a comprehensive look and feel all the way through.
MiniSquadron truly impressed us on so many levels, we are amazed at what a virtually single-man development “team” is capable of. The game’s solid controls make it so much fun to just fly around your plane, doing loops and blowing stuff up. The game’s huge number of unlockable aircraft, along with the multiplayer mode are sure to provide hours of high flying entertainment, easily worthy $2.99 of your hard earned cash.