Take MiniSquadron as “Rambo in the Skies.” Alone, you are pitted against waves and waves of enemy forces across beautifully rendered backgrounds. Though the planes’ artwork is noticeably of lower grade (but not hideous, just average) compared to the backgrounds, the special effects that include smoke trails and explosions simply make up for it.
It has been discussed in our forum that there are some technical hiccups. I’ve been experiencing them, too. There are slowdowns and occasional freezing. Same as everybody else, this happens with my PSP-1000. I’ve been using my PSP-1000 instead of my slim PSP in reviewing Minis to gauge playability across all PSP models, because if it works on the 1000 model, I assume it will definitely work on 2000, 3000, Go and, to some extent, the PS3 (I know, this entire assumption might be a fallacy.)
Upon firing up the game, one notices that classical music is used as its soundtrack. Some people might find this somewhat cheating, but I find it definitely fitting. Maybe it’s just me, but chaos + classical music is a good combination.
This frantic multi-directional shooter exclusively uses the analog nub for movement. This is the perfect way of controlling the plane anyway. I can’t imagine turning and twisting around using the D-pad. The D-pad is only used in adjusting the sound effects and BGM volumes in the options. The menus are browsed using the face buttons, nifty since everything is a one-button affair. Before I forget, X is to fire.
At first, you are given a paltry fighter plane. As you survive waves of enemies, you unlock new planes here and there. After a lot of victorious moments, you will inevitably fail, since enemies increase in size, quantity, quality and firepower to levels that your basic plane can’t handle.
The selection of fighter planes is robust and varied. It actually boils down to two choices, speedy but soft or slow but tough. I prefer the latter, as I tend to fight head-on. While using those speedy planes, I end up dying, my three lives used up in less than a minute. I’m not 100% sure about this, though, since I didn’t unlock all of the planes yet. There may be some planes that are both speedy and tough. The unlockable planes look sweet and funny, based on their silhouettes.
There are lots of power-ups in the game, including rains of missiles, additional lives, rejuvenation of your plane and an early (albeit temporary) access to laser beams. Also, the game implements a degree of physics; it’s not that intrusive, but again, it’s rightfully fitting in such a game.
In each territory (there are eight of them), there are 12 waves of multicolored fighter planes and sometimes birds or flying sheep. There are some checkpoints every now and then so that you can continue if you manage to sink your plane and wish to exact vengeance ASAP. The high score table is presented based on two factors: score and best time, with the avatar of the plane used.
The game can be easily enjoyed within seconds right after purchase. You will be surprised at the amount of time you’ll be wasting playing this game. Though the lockups and slowdowns are downers, the amount of enjoyment you can have in MiniSquadron is immeasurable. Admittedly, the gameplay is not the deepest, and the plane customization is actually absent (you are simply given a lot of choices; I just can’t ignore the fun factor, right?). MiniSquadron shows a lot of weaknesses, but it readily erases them with an amazing gaming experience. Buy this. Immediately.