MiniSquadron Review—Chaotic

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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.

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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.

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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.

8.5/10

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Comments

15 Responses to “MiniSquadron Review—Chaotic”
  1. onmode-ky says:

    It’s worth noting that Grip Games reports (in the forum thread linked in the review) that the workaround for the bug is done and will actually be in the initial release of the game in the North American PS Store.

  2. Nexus Prime says:

    I’ll probably check this out because of the different planes to open up. At least it seems to add some variety to the game.

    Quick question Jasper, does this control like the 1980’s game Time Pilot? (Basically, whichever direction is pressed that’s where the plane goes.)

  3. ZOMBIE WINE GUM says:

    This is a great game I would give it a 9.5/10, i just don’t really like the music.

  4. djax says:

    “whichever direction is pressed that’s where the plane goes.”

    Yes. Controls are very good, great game.

  5. Nexus Prime says:

    @djax Thanks! I’ll probably pick this up.

  6. JeremyR says:

    Yeah, I agree with ZWG , I like the game, but the music just drove me crazy. The way it’s done, it sounds like it’s out of an old silent movie.

  7. chapnis says:

    Yeah, and the songs just repeat… great game though. I reckon all minis would benefit from the ability to play your own music.

  8. Hey,
    thanks for a nice review! :-)

    The patch, that should solve the freezing even on the old models, will be available on the European PSN soon and will be live in the US today.

    The occasional slow-downs are actually in-level loading and saving during checkpoint. Gameplay itself should be smooth without any major framerate issues.

    And finally – the music IS supposed to be driving you crazy :-) Consider it to be a psychological warfare ;-)

  9. Vsin says:

    I have been really looking forward to this for the past week or so. I am very pleased to read that this is now ready and as good as it sounds it was. I will be buying a copy of this shortly.

    The music sounds like an interesting combination, though I could imagine the looping of it getting a bit annoying after a while. The idea of playing your own music from your psp while you play the game would be great. As it is though, I expect it to be money well spent.

  10. Shazbots says:

    The game is very fun, the music in this game thats not drive me insane at all, maybe it is because I like instrumental classical music. Anyways I only have one problem with the game, and it has to do with the sound or lack off sound from the airplanes themselves, there is no engine sound at all coming from the planes. I know it is a small issue but I wish the planes had some sort of engine sound effect. Other than that, it is a very fun game.

  11. volcane says:

    I’ve only unlocked the first couple of planes so far but already this game is great fun! :-)

  12. Vsin says:

    I have now bought it and played it a little bit. The music is great for this game. It makes me think of the music in the game Stacking a bit. The music does change on each stage. I didn’t realize that at first. This means the looping is no problem as far as the music getting stale. There are so many little things that make this title neat. Such as little messages it will pop up like when a fighter has taken you out. The planes fly smoothly and control great. As for the controls, you don’t have to worry about learning a bunch of buttons, it keeps the controls pretty simple. For $2/$1, I feel this is steal.

    As for engine sound, it would be a nice feature to have in the game, but only as an option to turn off and on. It would be neat but for myself, it would only be something I would want to try out, not have on most of the time I played it. I like atmosphere the game creates and engine sound would interfere with that for me.

  13. Billy says:

    Hi All,

    I have two versions of this game on my Motorola Droid X (Android OS platform) and I simply cannot recommend this game enough. I promise you the price is worth it. The controls are spot on and the gameplay is fun and excellent. Once you start unlocking the good planes it gets even better. I just purchased it on the PSP. Yes Im a fanboy for this game. hehe. Also theres a lot to say about the developer, I originally had problems playing it on my Droid X. When I contacted them they actually were able to reproduce the problem and updated it in a few days. So not only is it a great game but the develpers respond and fix things.

    So definitely get this game. Its a must have mini !

  14. matdub says:

    Where is the update for the euro psp store. It freezes after i finish. I love the game but i cant progress any further. Come on

  15. Mikey G says:

    This game kind of reminds me of the arcade classic “Time Pilot.” It’s a really cool arcade shooter with an excellent classical music soundtrack. I’m pretty close to beating it. There was a demo of a similar game on PS3 that I had played last year which the name escapes me. The only thing I’d ask for in a sequel would be bombing and strafing missions similar to the Amiga/GBA classic “Wings!”

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