The Sega Genesis Challenge – Battle Squadron

A Sega Genesis shmup that I’ve never played before to usher in the new year! What could go wrong?

Battle Squadron is a sci-fi vertical shoot’em up in the same vein as classic titles like 1942 and Raiden. The game supports 1 or 2 players simultaneously and has a fairly standard control setup with buttons A or C firing your main weapon and button B used for bombs.

The plot is fairly generic and involves a centuries long war between humanity and a race of aliens known as the Barrax. A pair of human pilots are captured while on a mission to destroy the last Barraxian technology on a remote planet. The player(s) are tasked with rescuing the pilots by fighting their way through waves of Barraxian war machines and alien monstrosities.

The visuals are pretty middle of the road in comparison to other Genesis titles. The sprites are a bit large which does lead the screen to feel very claustrophobic. This makes maneuvering to dodge bullets a real challenge. In addition, some of the alien craft can cloak as well which really amps the difficulty as more often than not you will run into one while dodging bullets.

The soundtrack is also pretty bland while the sound effects consist of a range of metallic “tinks” when bullets impact enemy vessels or structures. I had just as much fun and success playing with the same on as I did when it was muted.

The most unique element of the game is actually found in the options menu. While the standard options for “credits per player” and “number of lives” are present, there are two additional options in the place of the standard difficulty setting. The “max enemy bullets” setting allows you to specify the maximum number of shots that will be on the screen at any given time with the options of 8, 12, or 16. The “enemy bullet speed” option allows you to set the speed at which the bullets travel on screen from 75, 100, 150, 250, and 400.

Together these two options allow you to fine-tune the difficulty of the game instead of just using standard presets of easy, normal, and hard. I really enjoyed tweaking these settings to adjust the difficulty downward a bit so that I could advance further through the game. With that being said, the max of 8 bullets on screen still seemed like a bit given the sprite size and the general lack of screen real estate available to dodge.

Overall this was a pretty fun game, though the challenge level was a bit high and I was not able to advance as far as I’d like. This is one I will definitely be returning to in the future to try to experience more of what the game has to offer.