ARC Squadron is a 2012 space combat video game developed and published by Psyonix Studios for iOS. It was released on the App Store on 1 November 2012. Like Psyonix's previous game, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, ARC Squadron runs on Unreal Engine 3. On 17 November 2013, ARC Squadron Redux was released on iOS and Android, featuring improved graphics and performance as well as gameplay tweaks.
The player controls a weaponized space ship by swiping his or her finger across the touchscreen so as to maneuver the ship and perform barrel rolls. Each ship has two methods of eliminating enemies: "Primary Weapon" (a pair of lasers that fire automatically when the ship's crosshairs are lined up with an enemy), and a "Secondary Weapon" (activated by tapping the screen, and requiring time to recharge). Neutralizing targets in quick succession builds a combo-multiplier that rewards the player with bonus points. Additionally, chains of cubes appear on the battlefield, and if all are collected, they too add bonus points, adding to the player's total score.
In addition to the main combat missions, there are also bonus levels, called "Wormholes", which contain challenges ranging from shooting concentric targets to dodging obstacles. Spread throughout the combat missions and Wormholes are nine boss battles. After each level, the player's score is totaled, he or she is rated from zero to four stars, and subsequently awarded a sum of "ARC Bucks", based upon their score and star rating. High scores can be uploaded to Game Center leader boards, and the game also includes a variety of achievements on Game Center.
After each mission, the player returns to the "Hangar", a central hub from which ARC Bucks can be used to purchase new ships, weapons, and skins, or upgrade existing equipment. In total, there are six ships and ten weapons, as well as twelve unlockable skins for each ship. Additional ARC Bucks can be bought with real money through in-app purchases, although everything in the game can eventually be unlocked by playing through the story missions.
ARC Squadron was released to positive reviews. It holds aggregate scores of 87 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on fourteen reviews, and 85.89% on GameRankings, based on nine reviews. Critics praised the game for its excellent visuals and fast-paced, arcade-style gameplay, with many comparing it favorably to the likes of the Star Fox games.
IGN's Cody Musser scored it 7.3 out of 10. He was critical of the controls, but praised the graphics and the depth of the game, arguing that "ARC Squadron's controls hold it back from true greatness. But Psyonix has still created a compelling and gorgeous 3D space shooter worthy of your time and money. The ridiculous amount of content, large degree of variety and finely-tuned challenge will keep you glued to your mobile device's screen."
AppSpy's Andrew Nesvadba scored the game 4 out of 5. He criticized the lack of story, but, like IGN, praised the graphics and the depth; "ARC Squadron is a solid shoot 'em up in the vein of greats like Star Fox, but streamlined to suit the platform's larger casual audience." Modojo's Chris Buffa also scored the game 4 out of 5, also criticizing the lack of a plot and the implementation of the secondary weapon, but concluding that "these small complaints aside, ARC Squadron satisfies with a combination of gorgeous imagery and intense, arcade-style gameplay." Matt Wales of Pocket Gamer scored it 8 out of 10, giving it a "Silver Award". He felt that the touch controls were unresponsive at times, but still called the game "a satisfying blast of colourful, creative on-rails shooting that's only slightly let down by an occasional lack of responsiveness in its controls."
Blake Grundman of 148Apps was more impressed, scoring it 4.5 out of 5 and writing, "not very often does a newcomer impress quite to the level that ARC Squadron has. The visual polish, overabundance of content, and addictive gameplay all meld together into a product that even Fox McCloud would be happy to have bear his name." Gamezebo's Jillian Werner also scored it 4.5 out of 5, criticizing the difficulty in getting four star ratings in the levels, but praising the "gorgeous graphics, upbeat music, and fantastic level design. One-touch controls are executed superbly in both maneuvering and shooting. Tons of upgrades for your ship and weapons, all of which are affordable without shelling out real money. The entire game feels polished and lovingly crafted, from start to finish." TouchGen's Nigel Wood also awarded a score of 4.5 out of 5, writing "ARC Squadron is easily one of the best shooters on the AppStore right now. It has a strong Triple-A feel to it that only a few games have so far accomplished [...] The graphics, sound, controls, ramping difficulty, ship and weapons upgrades, and the awesome bosses makes for an addictive mix that's hard to put down."
Digital Spy's Scott Nichols rated the game 5 out of 5, arguing "in many ways Arc Squadron is a better sequel to Star Fox 64 than the official games that followed it, making it a must-have for mobile space combat fans." Eric Carlson of Slide to Play also awarded it a perfect score (4 out of 4), arguing that it is one of the best games on the AppStore; "Arc Squadron is a revelation. It's a game that truly exemplifies what can really be done on iOS if you're willing to push the devices. We didn't even mention the absolutely gorgeous graphics, which are some of the very best we've ever seen on iOS. And if we didn't mention the spectacular visuals, then you know the actual gameplay has got to be amazing. This is one of the best, most refined gaming experiences you'll ever have on your little phone or iPad. Arc Squadron is a Must Have for everyone."
G4TV awarded ARC Squadron "Game of the Week" for the week of 9 November, and Kotaku featured the game as its "Gaming App of the Day."