December 21, 2011 | Andy Boxall
Twenty or so years ago, my best friend and I were probably sat in front of a 21″ CRT TV and a Commodore Amiga, ready to play Battle Squadron. The only way to play back then was with your joystick-of choice, and if I remember correctly, mine was the QuickShot Maverick joypad, and my mate used an unusual Konix Navigator.
It’s hard to recreate a similar gaming experience these days, even with enjoyable two-player games on consoles. You sit back and relax thanks to Bluetooth wireless controllers, which no longer look like something you’d find in the cockpit of a fighter plane, or in the case of the Konix, onboard the Enterprise; but it just never feels as ‘social’ as it did back then. Rose-tinted glasses help I’m sure, but when many multi-player games exist only over a network, it can be hard to argue against.
Despite this, last night I came close to re-living those moments from 20 years ago, as once again that best friend and I settled down for a game of Battle Squadron, only this time it was on the iPad.
We covered the release of the two-player version of Battle Squadron last week, but without a willing second player, it was difficult to assess how it played. It turns out that the opposing split-screen system is a work of genius, and enables true co-operative play in a way I’ve never experienced on the iPad before.
Sure, games like X-Men have excellent network two-player modes, but not only does each player need their own device, but you’re as disconnected as you would be if each player was in a different room. With Battle Squadron ONE, you’re right there in the action together – and it’s absolutely brilliant.
We played through the game on a couple of difficulty levels – and remarking how easy it felt on Cadet mode in comparison to the old Amiga – and it never missed a beat, the iPad 2 showing no signs of stress despite the multiple inputs and considerable on-screen action.
Of course, not everyone is going to have vivid memories of the original, but that’s OK – just grab a shoot-em-up fan friend and give it a try. Battle Squadron remains one of the very best games of its type, and even players who’ve never heard of the Amiga will still find it exciting and challenging.
Battle Squadron ONE is quite simply the best dedicated, local two-player iPad app I’ve played, and a huge amount of fun. Grab a willing friend and give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.
- The same excellent Battle Squadron game, but with an added two-player mode.
- Even more control options, plus Game Center achievements.
- A network multiplayer mode coming in the next update.