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|Genre(s)||Space flight simulator|
|Mode(s)||One or two player|
The player controls one of two star fighters; like Star Wars Arcade and Star Fox, the ships are built with polygon type shapes. The player can control the tilt of the ship, and can fly in any direction. There is a target locking system that helps the player find enemies quickly, as well as shows which enemies are closer by a number at the target's side. Besides lasers, both ships also have their own type of torpedo. An energy shield can be turned on and off when needed, to save energy. A circular radar display appears at the bottom of the screen, which also tilts as the ship does. A next target arrow shows the player which direction the nearest enemy is.
There are two main type of enemies, fighters and carrier ships. Both types of ships must be destroyed before the current mission is complete on some levels, others only the carrier ships must be eliminated. There are Easy and Hard settings, and an object viewer option to get a closer look at enemies. If the player chooses the second fighter they will have the option of choosing auto-pilot, which allows the computer to fly and the player to concentrate on fighting. In two player mode player one can control the gunner and the second can control the pilot. There are six missions, and before each a tactical display shows the player's ship and all targets.
The player controls a recently promoted flight officer of the squadron charged with defending the critical "Outpost 51" from an invading alien fleet.
The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave Shadow Squadron a unanimous score of 5 out of 10, assessing it as no more than a thinly veiled upgrade of Star Wars Arcade with primitive graphics and dull gameplay. They argued that the free-roaming movement and multiplayer mode, while fun additions, do not make a fundamental difference to the gameplay. GamePro also regarded the game as a Star Wars Arcade upgrade, but give it a more mixed review. They criticized the music but praised the graphics and controls as a considerable improvement over Star Wars Arcade.