SNES A Day 11: U.N. Squadron

u-n-_squadron_us_box_art

Approximate Release Date: September 9, 1991
Genre: Side-scrolling shooter
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

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 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 down side 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 game play 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.

3 thoughts on “SNES A Day 11: U.N. Squadron”

  1. I love this game. still play it fairly regularly. As a kid being into military planes and what not this game was awesome and as you pointed out a bit unique to the genre at the time.

  2. You give this game credit for not being licensed off the back of a tv show but in fact it is a westernized version of a game called Area 88 which is a game based on the manga/anime of the same name. All the characters and their aircraft are from that show.

    1. It’s more that it wasn’t solely based off a TV show. I knew it was based off a Japanese cartoon, but this game has enough interesting ideas in it that it’s clear some effort was being put in. It’s an actual good game.

      Besides, no one in the US would have heard of the show before, so the fact it’s based on something is irrelevant for consumers.

      Thanks for reading!

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