If there’s anything we’ve learned this year across all forms of gaming both big and small, it’s that we love ourselves some shooters. Whether you look at the record-smashing success of Modern Warfare 2 on traditional platforms or the breadth and depth of shooters on portables, consumers appear to have an insatiable thirst for the next great shooter.
On the iPhone specifically, there have been a ton of shooting games that have had their time in the sun. Fresh from the labs over at MrFungFung– that’s the studio’s real name, seriously– MiniSquadron brings an original perspective to a genre thirsty for innovation and inspiration.
MiniSquadron is a shooter that is fundamentally conventional. At its structural core, this is a level-based wave shooter that’ll have you gunning down the AI. Working with 3 lives, you take to the skies in a variety of unique planes outfitted with specialized ammo and attributes. Though you start off with a slow plane that’s equipped with a peashooter, you’ll be unlocking new planes equipped with faster speeds and more intimating ammo like homing missiles and lasers. There are also powerups that enable health regeneration, speed boosts, and invisibility to name a few.
A perfect night for a missile fight.
Using a perfectly-tuned virtual joystick and buttons setup, your success (or lack thereof) will be completely up to you. Dodging enemy fire while doing twists and turns feels natural, and differences between your plane selections can definitely be felt.
The thing that makes MiniSquadron so addictive and charming is its personality. Instead of risking monotony, the game is layered with a bunch of wacky stuff to keep you frosty. In conjunction with taking down standard planes, you’ll run into huge bombers, flying chickens, and UFOs. Big cartoony messages pop up when you’re kicking butt and it serves as great positive reinforcement to keep on going. These considerations are taken to the next plateau based on the awesome presentation.
Don’t let the game’s 2D perspective fool you, because MiniSquadron competes with the prettiest efforts from the biggest names in the business. Each of the 56 planes have a distinct visual style, and the game’s eight environments feel completely different from each other. Explosions and colors pop off the iPhone’s screen, and even the busiest scenes truck along without a hint of slowdown.
Roll over, Beethoven.
Complementing the awesome visuals is an offbeat soundtrack that will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows. Depending on your sensibilities, the inclusion of classical music from the likes of Beethoven and Mozart will impress or enrage you. We find the insanity juxtaposed against soothing classical music to be clever and ironic. But if you’re on the enraged end of the spectrum, custom soundtracks are included.
While we had a good time playing through the single-player mode and taking on several combinations of enemies, the multiplayer is also great. All unlockables earned in single player are available here. With another friend in the room, you can play one vs. one over local wi-fi. We didn’t notice any perceptible lag, and the basic stat tracking is a welcome touch. As fun as it is, larger scale multiplayer action would have been perfect for four to six players.
MiniSquadron deserves all the respect and adoration in the world. It’s one of those games that hits the spot in the ways that matter. Go ahead and skip that delicious McLatte, and buy this exceptional shooting game instead.