By JessPlayin / December 13, 2023  

The Space Age: Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers

How an FMV Game Brought Back 1950s Sci-fi Movies to Our Screens

Have you ever watched an old sci-fi picture, the black and white film crackling on the screen and wished you could play it? Well now is your chance. Squad 51 vs the Flying Saucers is about a rebel group led by Lieutenant Kaya as they face off against flying saucers, alien fighters, and evil corporations from the skies.

FMV World recently got the opportunity to discuss some behind the scenes aspects with game developer Márcio Rosa. Márcio runs the collaborative game studio known as Loomiarts, and was a driving force behind Squad.

FMV WORLD: What were the inspirations behind Squad 51?

Márcio Rosa: I had some inspirations on sci-fi SHMUPs (shoot 'em up games) like Gradius and R-Type, which of course don't have exactly the same style as ours. The style was mainly inspired by sci-fi movies from the 1950s, but we also went further, using direct references to movies from the '20s, '30s, '40s and '60s, like Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Metropolis, Planet of the Vampires, etc. However, like I said, the main inspiration are the ones from the fifties, like War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet, Jack Arnold's movies, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Plan 9 from Outer Space, This Island Earth, Godzilla, The Monster From 20,000 Fathoms, The Thing From Another World and many others.

What other work has your studio done, are you planning anything after Squad?

This was my first game, and was also Fehorama's first. I have some ideas for a few new games, but at the moment, nothing is being produced or actually planned.

It's a very impressive debut! Can you tell us about the writing process?

It was also my first script. I tried to be very serious about it, so I first studied screenplay-making in general and then started research — not only the movie references, but even airplanes-related stuff. To have some historical accuracy, we have a lot of references to the real world, even if not explicitly. Foreigners may not notice, actually. And because of the nature of being a game, I already had "some" structure to follow. For example, I had already made some decisions regarding the environments the levels would take place in, even if the order was not yet decided, which was a good thing because I had something to start.

How did you create the unique look of the game?

For us, it was important to directly reference the movies of that age, trying to avoid a "satiric" look. Of course, sometimes we are more successful on this approach than others, since our budget was very limited and it was a game with a lot of different elements to put together. I also admit that sometimes we depart a little bit from this idea, since the game is too frenetic and has a more modern pacing than movies from the fifties, but this was the gameplay style I chose.

What was it like to film?

We filmed almost everything in green screen because of money (the CGI background was later paid by our publishers and by the Epic MegaGrants we won). In the beginning, I was not a fan of this idea, because of course a digital look was unavoidable and it has nothing to do with the '50s. However, it is a game. So, obviously it would have an unavoidable digital look. In the end, I think it was an advantage, since the visuals of the cutscenes merged better with the game itself. And even if the team behind the post production of the cutscenes was not the same that creates the visuals of the levels, we exchanged many things, like 3D models, backgrounds and other things. For example, one of the last things I did in the game was the shader of the film grain and it was made together with our cinematographer Rafael Duarte, whose expertise of film cameras was a great help.


Any fun trivia about the game?

I will drop one: the newspapers that appear in the first cutscene, and also in the game over screen, are based on actual Brazilian newspapers from the 20th and 21st centuries (like the layout, photos and headlines).

What was the casting process like?

Many of the cast have already worked with Felipe Iesbick (the cutscenes director) or with our producers at Fehorama Filmes. We sat one day and started to pick our preferences for each character, and then the production went to reach them in the following days. João França was the only one whose character was written specifically for him. Unfortunately, he died in 2020, after the filming. I think this was his last job in a live-action performance, although he also worked with voiceover.

How did you decide on the unique bullet arcade-style aspect of the game?

Making a SHMUP was one of the first decisions I made, even before deciding to reference the movies from the '50s. I already did one game in the genre when I was a student, and the lack of resources and budget was also a reason to choose a game that didn't require too much work on 3D animations.

Is there any other information you'd like audiences to know about the production?

It costs money. A lot. Please buy the game. :P  ★

And I can wholeheartedly agree with that final statement. You should. It's a truly one of a kind experience and one that you'll remember for a lifetime. You can get Squad 51 vs the Flying Saucers on a variety of platforms including: PlayStation, Switch, Windows, and Xbox.

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