If you made a list of all the fantastic features you’d love to include in the iPhone shooter of your dreams, it would read just like Assault Squadron’s feature list. An energetic licensed soundtrack, computer-generated cutscenes that mimic the finale of Return of the Jedi, and 100-multiplier combos for your online high scores: Check, check, and check.
Assault Squadron seems to have crammed in just about every excellent feature except the kitchen sink, but it’s a bit short from start to finish. While the entire game is eminently replayable, with Chillingo’s Crystal network providing the infrastructure for online high scores and achievements, plus multiple ships and difficulty levels, there are only six short levels that comprise the whole game.
Drill, baby, drill!
They’re thrilling, though, and playing through once is not enough to appreciate their artistic detail. You start the game in space, with a typical Gradius or Raiden arcade style (your view will actually shift from top-down to side-scrolling at various points). Then, in an interesting change of scenery, you’ll dive down to the Earth’s surface, then finally underneath the crust to battle a giant alien drill.
After every few levels, you’ll be treated to sharp cutscenes that show off Binary Mill’s expertise at CG cinematics. Though they’re more focused on action than storytelling, it’s a great reward to cap off every other major boss battle.
If you love the frantic ‘bullet hell’ genre of shooters, this is a game made for you, but even newcomers can set the difficulty for casual and enjoy the beautiful scenery and soundtrack. Assault Squadron may be a short ride, but it’s a great one, and for pure action it’s hard to beat its soaring sense of style.