Approximate Release Date: September 9, 1991
Genre: Side-scrolling shooter
U.N. Squadron is yet another arcade-style shooter, but at least it’s trying something different.
One of the things I’m least looking forward to as SNES A Day advances is the upcoming glut of generic platformers. You know, those bargain bin ones with nothing resembling a new idea and slapped together with a movie or TV show license to try to trick parents into opening their checkbooks. So give these shooters – Gradius III, Super R-Type, Hyper Zone, and now U.N. Squadron – credit for not being indistinguishable from each other.
U.N. Squadron‘s biggest differentiators are the RPG elements. There’s a world map available, giving you some ability to pick and choose what missions to do and in what order. Is a level too tough? Skip it, or try one of the bonus levels. By completing missions and bonus objectives, you earn money and level your ship up. You can use the money to buy new weapons or even new, more powerful ships. By mixing and matching ships with different weapons and different pilots, you can tailor the combat to how you want it to be. Money is limited, though, and I never felt like I had enough money available to really get crazy and try different things.
There’s also a regenerating health system. In 1991. U.N. Squadron is not the first game to have it, but it might be the first of its kind to try something like this.
I like how the game eschews the sci-fi space aesthetic of the other games in the genre. Replacing robots and lasers with planes and machine guns and other near-future modern military hardware further makes U.N. Squadron feel fresh. Bosses tend to be real-world inspired machines – think missile launchers, aircraft carriers, or bombers – that have weak points that need to be exploited. The one downside to more realistic sprites is that missiles don’t stand out quite as well as lasers do, so it’s common to get clipped by random fire you’ve missed in the bedlam. It could also be that this game is pretty challenging, too.
None of these additions makes the gameplay much differently than the others, but it runs well and throws a good number of enemies on screen at once. Just trying to incorporate other genres and looking different than most of its competition is enough to give U.N. Squadron a hearty recommendation.
Tomorrow: Tee off with HAL’s Hole in One Golf.