App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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In the last couple of months the world of space combat games have been turned upside down. It seems like only a few weeks ago that Arc Squadron released, instantly cementing itself as the iOS spiritual successor to Nintendo’s Star Fox franchise. The next logical choice of games to emulate on Apple devices would be LucasArt’s abandoned Rogue Squadron series. Right on schedule, in swoops Martian Monkey’s new game, Alpha Squadron. Could this actually prove to be the rebirth of Biggs and Porkins, or is this nothing more than a feeble attempt at recapturing Lucas’ magic?
Anyone who has ever seen a Star Wars film is going to be blown away at how close Alpha Squadron comes to toeing the line of infringement. Everything from the player’s ship, which looks like an X-Wing, to the enemies, which resemble TIE Fighters, reek of the popular brand but somehow manage to differ just enough to be legally safe. Heck, even the sweeping orchestral soundtrack in the background sounds like it could have leapt off the baton of John Williams.
When a developer manages to stick that close to the subject material, there is a high probability that it will attract a similar audience. If there is one thing that prevents the game from being a legitimate successor to the throne it would have to be the production values. While the game looks decent enough, there are significant cases of re-used art assets, not to mention invisible walls on the battlefield. Also, players never have any chance to switch up their weaponry. The only option available is the laser mounted to the ship, which can’t even be modified to fire in single or double shot bursts. This flies in the face of the variety (both weapons and ships) found in later Rogue installments.
Criticisms aside, Alpha Squadron strikes enough of the same notes that its overall chord will certainly feel and sound familiar. Though the mission structure seems rather dogfight heavy, players will find more than enough gameplay to justify the $2.99 sticker price. Most importantly, it plays like it could have existed in the GameCube era, which is enough to render it an instant purchase. Red Five would certainly be pleased.