Many who play at least a few minutes of ARC Squadron will immediately think of the famous interplanetary dogfight game Star Fox, but I see Total Eclipse. The 1993 space shooter bucked the trend on the Panasonic 3DO, in which most games paired impressive graphics with a miserable game. Total Eclipse was visually unremarkable, but unaccountably fun to play. Like Eclipse, ARC Squadron puts you in control of an agile space fighter, and it throws a figurative and literal meteor shower of obstacles your way. Small flicks of your index finger control lasers, barrel rolls, missile volleys and other maneuvers that would make Chappy Sinclair proud.
Despite superficial similarities to Total Eclipse, though, ARC Squadron has more in common with the rest of the 3DO’s glitzy dross. It looks really great, and it works well enough. But there’s something about piloting a fighter without a joystick that drains a lot of the fun out of the whole experience. And with all the pretty space junk flying at you, your view quickly gets crowded and messy (especially on the smaller phone screen). As wave after wave of enemy ships, mines, and floating bombs clutter the sunless horizon, I find there is only one thing on my mind: Where’s the Death Blossom when I need it?