Have you ever questioned what would occur should you mixed campy 50s B-movies with Life Force or R-Type-style shmups? If you have got, then your weirdly particular musings have been realized within the type of Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers, the debut challenge from Brazilian studio Loomiarts.

Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers is a retro prospect in each sense of the phrase. The gameplay is unapologetically old-school; throughout its handful of ranges, you will fly planes via hordes of alien craft, capturing them down to attain factors. It’s all wrapped up in a intentionally lo-fi black-and-white presentation that harks again to the golden age of trashy science fiction. 

Of course, paying homage to your forebears is one factor, however Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers has to do greater than elicit a realizing chuckle; it is started working as a game. For essentially the most half, this retro throwback delivers the products, however it suffers from some wonky design that makes it a difficult one to suggest should you’re not already in love with shmups.

Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers Offers Classic Shmup Fun

A large Squadron 51 plane fighting a drilling machine in a mine in Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers
Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers has some fairly enjoyable fight.

Sometimes, video games do not want bells, whistles, or extras to entertain. All they want is a stable core gameplay loop, and that is the place Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers shines. Like R-Type, and even older examples of the style like Scramble or AirstrikeSquad 51 is a side-scrolling shmup through which the target is easy: if one thing comes from the suitable aspect of the display screen, blow it up.

This simplicity works in Squad 51‘s favor. The motion is huge, daring, and brash, with loads of explosions and visible results marking profitable takedowns. Your aircraft can all the time fireplace a machine gun, however you’ve got additionally acquired entry to subweapons like bombs, missiles, and a rear-firing flamethrower. All of those instruments pack sufficient of a punch to make Squad 51‘s core capturing viscerally satisfying.

Squad 51 is a side-scrolling shmup through which the target is easy: if one thing comes from the suitable aspect of the display screen, blow it up.

That’s to not say there is not any complexity on show. Before every mission, you are given the prospect to vary your construct round a little bit. Skills you’ll be able to slot embrace elevated protection towards enemy fireplace or collisions, in addition to additional subweapons and the prospect to extend the variety of lives you need to full every stage. These decisions add simply the correct amount of selection to the shmup gameplay, making certain it by no means will get previous or repetitive.

The Retro Aesthetic Doesn’t Quite Suit Squad 51

Two aliens having a conversation in Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers
Retro is the phrase of the day with Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers.

Unfortunately, that complexity would not totally work with regards to the visuals. Squad 51 has opted for a intentionally retro vibe, and for the between-mission live-action cutscenes, that is pleasant. The effort has been made to make sure Squad 51 actually does look the half; it is acquired the identical shaky black-and-white camerawork and intentionally (at the very least, I assume) awkward and hammy performing as the films to which it is paying homage.

That aesthetic would not translate as properly to the core gameplay, although. It’s not simply Squad 51‘s films which are in black-and-white; the entire game is rendered thus, and if you’re continually being bombarded with bullet hell-style projectiles, the old-school B-movie look crosses over from cute to irritating. Squad 51 makes use of pseudo-3D visuals, too, so objects continually fly out and in of the foreground and background, making it even tougher to know precisely what is going on to hit you.

Still, Squad 51 is admirably dedicated to its retro stylings. The voice performing has been filtered to sound prefer it’s being delivered via Forties radio mics, and the music has a wobble indicative of a barely janky tape reel. If it weren’t for the occasional modern-sounding glitch within the voice actors’ vernacular, Squad 51 may truly be convincing as an actual sci-fi B-movie of the basic period, albeit one and not using a notably involving storyline.

Squad 51 Has Retro Difficulty, Too

A plane flying through a corridor in Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers
These hall mazes are a few of the most irritating moments in Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers.

It’s not simply the visuals which are retro in Squad 51. This is a tribute to basic shmups, and as such, it options basic shmup issue. To put it bluntly, Squad 51 is screamingly onerous in locations. If you are not up for a problem otherwise you thought old-school NES and SNES-era shooters have been too tough, it is secure to say you must give this one an especially extensive berth.

Squad 51‘s stage design is properly diversified, placing your whole aircraft’s strikes to the take a look at by asking you to maneuver via tight corridors, shoot down numerous completely different sorts of enemies, and even swap aircraft varieties on occasion. Sadly, the extent design is wonky, with many fight eventualities feeling hopelessly unfair until you place your self in a method you may by no means have predicted on the outset of the struggle.

To put it bluntly, Squad 51 is screamingly onerous in locations.

That’s all par for the course in shmups like this, although, and finally, should you persevere, you will emerge victorious towards Squad 51‘s challenges. It’s not a really lengthy game (there are eleven ranges and two issue modes to deal with, at the very least on the outset), so even when you end up repeating sections a couple of occasions, it will not take you lengthy to beat Squad 51‘s appreciable problem curve.

Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers | Final Thoughts

A plane flying through a storm and shooting in Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers
The story could also be uninvolving, however Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers remains to be a superb time.

If you are a fan of old-school shmups, then you definately’ll discover tons to love in Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers. It has loads of replay worth because of the various completely different expertise you’ll be able to unlock, and the second issue mode, whereas not really useful to anybody who needs to retain their sanity, is a pleasant addition for the really hardcore.

Squad 51 is not going to set the world on fireplace with its intentionally campy performing and reversion motion, however should you’ve been wishing for the halcyon days of Fantasy Zone or Gradius to return, then you may do so much worse than Loomiarts’ loving tribute to these golden years. Don’t anticipate Squad 51 to vary your life, however it’s a superbly agreeable strategy to spend a couple of hours.


TechRaptor reviewed Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers on PC by way of Steam utilizing a code offered by the writer.



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