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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves

Review: Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers

News Flash! Aliens have begun their terrifying invasion of Earth. The evildoers have run aground, turning the beautiful mother earth afoul! The inhumanity is everywhere! No milk, no TV. Only enslavement from this malevolent species now dominates everyday life. Deep underground, there is hope. A group of rabble-rousers has organized a resistance against the evildoers from afar! Only the brave men and women of Squad 51 can smite those whipper snappers and send them packing!


Squad 51 vs the Flying Saucers is a remarkable side-scrolling shooter. It's a game that wears its 1950s serials on its sleeve with alien paranoia and high-stakes excitement. While repetitive, this hybrid of a short film and spaceship shooter is certainly recommended for fans of science fiction and spaceship shooter enthusiasts. Simply put, Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers is another example of the powerful imagination of indie games.



Holy Saucers, Batman!


Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers takes place on Earth. It's a seemingly bright future. Aliens arrive on the planet to create a new future with advanced technologies. However, evil is afoot. The Vega Corporation is established as an institution for the future profession of the human race, only to be led by the sinister Director Zarog. Zarog and the Vega Corporation impose oppression on the human race through corporate dealing and politics. The rebellious Squad 51 is formed to take the fight to the corporations.


Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers is a spaceship shooter. Players choose from various ships and their pilots. Each ship has different secondary weapons, from flamethrowers to rockets. Each ship handles differently and can be upgraded through continuous play. Aircraft range from traditional turbo-prop craft to bombers and even jet fighters. The goal of each level is to destroy as many enemies as possible and survive.



Lasers, Lasers Everywhere


Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers may be a horizontal side-scrolling shmup, but it's unlike anything else in the genre or games. Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers isn't just a game but an independent short film shot in Brazil. Between levels, a movie plays out detailing the story of humans rising against their alien oppressors. The game wears the sci-fi world of the 1950s on its sleeve. Practical effects, English dubbing, and a black-and-white presentation make Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers feel like a genuine movie from the era.


The sci-fi mood doesn't stop there. Enemy ships are inspired greatly, appearing like they were made with scraps of metal one would find in a Hollywood studio. Some enemies still have strings holding them up to give the illusion of flight. The saucers look and feel like hub caps that were digitally scanned into the game. The levels look like assembled model kits built for the movie that never was.



Up Up and Away


Playing Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers is as one would come to expect. Players move their ship across the screen, dodging enemies and weapons fire. Many enemies lie ahead and must be destroyed. The more enemies are destroyed, the higher the score. Each playthrough allows for leveling up as well. Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers can be challenging and overwhelming at times, but fortunately, each death does allow for upgrades and new weapons for the ship.


Playing Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers soars in all the right ways. Spaceship shooters should feel incredibly frantic and grand in scale. It succeeds in this regard as the game does give the sensation that the fate of the world rests on the shoulders of the player and the pilots presented in the game. Downing waves of robotic and alien enemies are enthralling. Between the banter of pilots and the retro sci-fi style, it's a tremendous and unique action experience.



Don't forget the Ovaltine


If there is any drawback to Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers, it is a little short and repetitive. Players will die a lot in the opening levels, sometimes multiple times. However, each run feels like progress as it helps level up your craft. There are only 11 missions, though, meaning the game ends sooner than I'd like. However, there is plenty of replay value with various difficulties and chasing a high score.


Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers is an innovation and a great game. I can easily imagine many other games using this style of storytelling and presentation. I can even imagine a sequel to Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers titled Squad 51 vs. the Tentacles of the Kraken, where the squad fights underwater against gargantuan monsters of the deep.



He's looking at you, kid


Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers flies high. Its gameplay, coupled with a well-produced sci-fi short film, makes this one a winner. It doesn't quite check off all the boxes, and I wish the experience were longer.


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