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, making flying upside down, simple and can fly in any direction. There is a target locking system that help the player find enemies quickly, as well as shows which enemies are closer by a number at the targets 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. And a circular radar display appears at the bottom of the screen, which also tilts as the ship does allowing you to tell it your above an enemy. And a next target arrow showing you 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. The buttons used to shoot and speed up, and such can be changed on the options menu of the game before beginning. There are Easy and Hard settings, and an object viewer option to get a closer look at what enemies you will have to face, you can zoom in and out as well as tilt and rotate the ship in any direction. A sound test allows the player to listen to the music or sound effects, and another on off option can be used to turn the game's music and sound effects on and off before playing. The player can also change the speed control of their ship so it will go back to a standard speed if not pressing a button, or stay at one speed until you press the break or thrust. Players can also change the color of their ships and the enemies. If using the six-button controller the mode button can be used to enter "Chase" view which is seeing the fighter from behind rather than the cockpit. 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 will show the players ship and where the enemy, and any other targets, or obstacles. There are two additional options that appear on the title screen after playing, the first is a "Trace" mode that allows the player to view a record of the last mission of their last game played, as if it were filmed and pieces of film where pieced together, with zoom ins tilts and following camera angles. The second option that appears is a score option that lets you[who?] see how well you did, but this is only viewable after you've beaten the game once, the title screen will eventually reappear and this option will be added to it.
There is very little story in the game itself, only mission objectives, mostly the story comes from the instructions and the box.
"Scramble Fighters! Chaos has broken out on the edge of the Galaxy. A diabolical power has begun construction of a powerful sun laser. You are the Shadow Squadron's newest fighter jock and the fate and hope of the federation rest in your hands. Destroy the Sun Laser or face the FIRE!!!" --From the back of the Box.
"This Means War O.K. cadet, listen up. We have a situation here, the kind that doesn't go away by itself. Something has knocked out our early warning network at the source. Outpost 51 is monitoring coded transmissions from sector 7. We are registering energy blooms from an unknown number of large ships near the Outer Boundary. One plus One plus one equals our old adversaries planning something big - big time. Why am I telling you this? Wake up, cadet! Where is Outpost 51? And where are we? Get it? The Acceleration Gate at sector 4 is still being assembled, so our defense ships at 11 can't get here in time. We're the only thing between the enemy and 17 major planetary systems. You've trained for the last 6 years to be in the Shadow Squadron. Well, you're being bumped from Cadet First Class to Flight Officer as of right now. The Fleet Academy has a tradition of excellence that is unsurpassed, and you're going to make sure it stays that way by being the first on the scene, and the last one standing when the dust clears. Is that clear - Captain? --From the Instruction booklet.
Source: Wikipedia, "Shadow Squadron", available under the CC-BY-SA License.