Friday, December 4, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Battle Squadron

Retro Game of the Day! Battle Squadron

Today's entry would be Battle Squadron, another EA Amiga-Port-to-Sega-Genesis released shortly into the systems' lifespan in 1990. The tagline for this game ought to have been "Kill or be killed..." or rather "Kill and be killed.. a lot!"

The first year following the Genesis' release was a tough time going. The hardware was new and shiny, the games were flashy and fun. The control pad was excessively ergonomic. Unfortunately, though the initial launch lineup of software supporting the system was well-delivered, the follow-through was anything but. Cartridges slowly trickled out as the fanbase found its footing. System launches were treated very differently back then as opposed to now (when there is an endless onslaught of software constantly coming at you, crap or otherwise!)

I was a new Sega Genesis owner in 1990 and I was hooked - and I was loving the shooters (old school, not new school!) I spent the previous season getting my hands dirty with Thunder Force II on the system, but it was getting cobwebby lately and I needed something new to fix my fix. Blazing Lazers was still ringing fresh in my head on the Turbografx-16 although it was nowhere to be found on my native system - but wait, what's this? Battle Squadron looks like it could be from the same neighborhood. Top view.. weapon powerups.. super bombs.. plenty of guys to kill. I loaded it up.

The game greeted me with a couple of fancy-rendered title screens, and a pretty rockin' background music track. The palette of the in-game graphics were pretty muddy, though things were nicely detailed so I forgave it. It looked like this was what I was wanting to get my hands on.. but..

Battle Squadron was punishingly difficult. From the get-go the game starts putting it right to you. If memory serves, I think I cranked up the difficulty to a fair level (I hated playing games on easy - few things were worse than dropping $40-$60 on a title only to see all it had to offer inside of a single weekend!) and had at it, and just started getting killed all over the place.

You see, I was expecting this game to play like a Japanese shooter - which it most certainly wasn't. I forget if it was American or European (my money's on the latter), but the point is it was Western-developed when most of the popular console shooters of the day were Eastern. The game was impressive, and it was definitely fun - but man. I don't think I ever made it past level two on this puppy. In spite of my complaining, it was a nicely-put together game which deserves credit (and still certainly playable). Some interesting invisible opponents in there (that should tell you something..!) and the music is still pretty rockin'.

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