Reminding me a lot of the biplanes mode of classic Intellivision game “Triple Action”, except with tonnes of new features, “Squadron Scramble” is an enjoyable game that’s doing a lot of things that make it worth a download.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The game has dogfighting for up to 8 players (four controllers, two people per controller). If you have four or fewer people, no controller sharing is required. You start each game with a squadron of pilots. Here’s where the innovation starts. You firstly have to actually march your pilot into the hanger to get them to their plane, and they’re vulnerable during this period of time. That’s interesting. Like with that old Intellivision game, thrust is constant and all you’re doing is aiming your plane, but also like with that game (if memory serves) physics play a role in that climbing slows you and diving speeds you up.
One new element is that if you get shot down, you may be able to parachute to safety, but the enemy can shoot you down in that state. A bit like in XBLA title “Assault Heroes”, in that if your vehicle is destroyed you can try to run to another one before getting shot, but you’re extraordinarily vulnerable in that state. But here’s where it gets more interesting still. Each player has a squadron of fighter pilots to choose from. You can swap between squadron members at any time (though consider the fact that swapping pilots creates some risk as the pilots board/disembark their planes). At the end of the game, you only get points for any kills by your REMAINING pilots. You could shoot down enemies like crazy, but if the pilot doing all the shooting is killed then they’re all lost. There’s strategy, therefore, in when you land a certain pilot and swap in another, and I like that. Tactics play a role too, as you’ll want to take on targets of opportunity where you can kill an enemy ace with tonnes of kills under their belt. Finally, the fact that it has both solo play against the computer and great party play makes it an unmissable 80 Microsoft Point purchase.
Here’s what the developer (DepthCharge Software) has to say about the game:
“1-8 player dogfighting on one console! Play against friends or A.I. opponents. Two players can share each controller. HOW TO PLAY: Get your pilots to their planes – Shoot planes to earn points – If you lose a pilot you lose their points!”