MiniSquadron is a fun little minis title. It bears a striking resemblance to Sky Fighter, the full-fledged 2D plane flying PSN game from last September. MiniSquadron’s edge over the otherwise stellar Sky Fighter is its ability to be played on a PSP. Since it’s a minis title, you can enjoy MiniSquadron on both your PS3 and PSP. However, the fact that it’s a minis title means there’s no multiplayer whatsoever and leaderboards are out of the question. Still, the game is a good bit of fun as it stands.
In MiniSquadron, you pick one of 58 unlockable planes, choose one of the 8 different maps, then fly back and forth on a 2D plane shooting 12 waves of wacky enemies. The controls are simple: The analogue stick turns your plane, the X button shoots. There’s no accelerating or decelerating to muck up the simplicity; just move where you want to move, and shoot when you want to shoot (always). Each plane has its own statistics that govern how it flies, and many of the planes use different weapons. Of the 10 weapon types, I thought the homing rockets and laser beam were the most effective, though the cluster bomb (a bunch of bombs fire upward from your plane and rain down) is especially useful in some situations. Powerups and extra lives appear at random and float around the map.
Accompanying your flight is a selection from one of many popular classical movements, including Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” and Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” The music isn’t fully orchestrated, but its stripped down, almost kiddie nature is lighthearted and matches the game’s overall simple aesthetic. When the sound clip loops and when the game loads at any time, it slows down for a bit. It’s not a huge deal, but noticeable slowdown in a game like this is fairly off-putting. Along with the Classic mode, there’s a Survival mode which is seemingly endless but incredibly difficult (waves of over 20 planes are commonplace).
I spent only a few hours getting through the Classic mode. I wish there were more to that mode, as it’s the only way to unlock planes and replaying old levels with newer, more powerful planes isn’t much fun. I unlocked about 25 planes playing through it once, went back to unlock a few more, then lost interest after realizing that I’m basically grinding out unlocks in a minis title. It probably would have been more fun if Grip Games implemented their typical leaderboard support. Otherwise I’m just going to sit atop the world of PSminis Grip Games players forever.
MiniSquadron isn’t a very long game, but it’s a bunch of fun while it lasts. If it weren’t for the occasional slowdown and the short campaign, it’d be a good game. As it stands, it’s a good minis title, which isn’t saying too much. Check it out if the trailer suits your fancy. By the way, Instant Ramen gets a ‘big ups’ mention in the credits. That’s pretty funny.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Portable version of the game.
What I Like:
- Tight, simple controls
- Classical music
What I Dislike:
- No Grip Games leaderboard support
- Chugs every once in a while