U.N. Squadron

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U.N. Squadron
Basic Information
Video Game
Scrolling Shooter
Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, SNES and ZX Spectrum
Retail Features
Play Information
Main Credits
Manami Matsumae, Takashi Tateishi and Mari Yamaguchi
CanadaUnited StatesMexico North American Release Date(s)
Arcade machines
August 1989
Awards | Changelog | Cheats | Codes
Codex | Compatibility | Covers | Credits | DLC | Help
Localization | Manifest | Modding | Patches | Ratings
Reviews | Screenshots | Soundtrack
Videos | Walkthrough
GOG | In-Game | Origin | PlayStation Trophies | Retro
Steam | Xbox Live

U.N. Squadron is a 1989 side scrolling shooting game released for the CPS arcade hardware by Capcom. The game was released in Japan as Area 88 (エリア88 Eria Hachi-Jū-Hachi?) and is based on the manga series of the same name, featuring the same main characters. Here, their mission is to stop a terrorist group known as Project 4. It was followed by the sequel Carrier Air Wing.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

The game is a typical side scrolling shooter, going against the trend of other Capcom shooters, such as 1942, and 1943: The Battle of Midway, which are vertically scrolling shooters. However, unlike other Capcom shooters, the player has an energy bar that is consumed over the course of a single life as the player sustains damage, a trait highly uncommon among other comparable arcade-style shooters which normally use a system of reserve lives, where one of which is lost upon a single enemy hit.

The player can choose between three mercenary pilots: Shin Kazama, Mickey Simon, and Greg Gates. Each pilot flies a specific plane and has slightly different capabilities.

Pilots[edit | edit source]

  • Shin Kazama: Shin flies an F-20 Tigershark; the weapons on his plane fire forward only but at a quick pace. Shin and his plane are the most balanced combination available.
  • Mickey Simon: Mickey flies an F-14 Tomcat; the weapons on his plane also fire forward only, but are also larger (albeit slower), inflicting more damage than Shins plane.
  • Greg Gates: Greg flies an A-10 Thunderbolt; this plane has smaller forward fire than either Shin or Mickey's planes, but it also fires a second stream downward at a 45° angle from the forward firing stream.

Weapons Shop[edit | edit source]

In both the arcade and SNES versions of the game, before entering a level, the player has the opportunity to purchase special weapons or added defenses in the shop. The player earns money to buy weapons by destroying enemy planes and vehicles during levels and, when the level is finished, any unused weapons are converted back into money.

Weapons[edit | edit source]

Arcade version[edit | edit source]

Weapons[edit | edit source]

Depending on the level and which pilot they have chosen, players will encounter two of these eight different weapon enhancements in the weapons shop:

  • Bulpup: Launches missiles forward at various angles.
  • Bulpup II: A more powerful Bulpup.
  • Phoenix: Homing missiles that go after any enemies on the screen.
  • Falcon: A more powerful Phoenix.
  • Super Shell: Shoots a large long shell at enemies that inflicts more damage than regular guns.
  • Super Shell II: A more powerful and larger Super Shell.
  • Bomb II: Allows you to drop powerful bombs from above.
  • Big Boy: Allows you to drop even more powerful bombs.
  • Napalm: More powerful than Bomb II in that it ignites the ground when it lands.
  • Napalm II: More powerful than Napalm, with similar incendiary properties.
Defense[edit | edit source]

After selecting (or passing up) additional weapons, players are offered one of three defensive enhancements (these are the same on every level):

  • Energy Tank: Adds more life to the lifebar when the level begins.
  • Shield: Absorbs damage from enemy fire or collisions.
  • Super Shield: Same as Shield, but can absorb more damage.

SNES version[edit | edit source]

Depending on which plane has been purchased, players can buy any combination of these weapons.

  • Cluster Shot: Shoots a cluster of explosives which expand from the center of the plane.
  • Bomb: Conventional bombs which must be dropped on their target.
  • Phoenix: Homing missiles that go after any enemies on the screen.
  • Napalm: Drops from the plane and causes a large explosion along the ground when it lands.
  • Falcon: Drops like a bomb but skims over the ground until it hits a target.
  • Gunpod: Shoots bullets upward at a 45 degree angle.
  • Super Shell: Shoots a large plasma shell at a target.
  • Sailing Missile: Fires a volley of missiles directly upward.
  • Thunder Laser: A heavy laser weapon firing in three directions.
  • Bulpup: Launches missiles forward in a fan pattern.
  • MegaCrush: The game's "Smart Bomb" weapon, launches a satellite into space, which proceeds to rain lasers down striking all enemies onscreen. This weapon quickly kills most normal enemies, and deals massive damage to bosses.

During gameplay[edit | edit source]

Once a level has been entered, the game scrolls to the right with the enemies approaching from many directions. Land, sea, and air units are encountered in the various stages.

The player's main gun has infinite ammunition and can be upgraded by picking up accumulating POW points. POWs, which appear when the player destroys certain red enemies, can be found as green, blue or yellow glowing orbs inside a small box. Each color POW is worth a different amount of points:

  • Blue POW: 1 point
  • Green POW: 2 points
  • Yellow POW: 4 points

The player's current number of POWs and the amount needed for the next gun upgrade is displayed in the upper left corner of the display. Each upgrade generally requires more POWs to get than the last upgrade, and so forth.

Special weapons, on the other hand, are limited in ammunition and have no ability to upgrade in level. The character's plane can take a number of enemy hits before being destroyed and has a brief period of invulnerability after each hit. This makes the game a little less frustrating. However, the planes in the SNES version will temporarily become completely vulnerable.

Unlike many shooters of its time, the game is extremely challenging. Levels frequently include large numbers of enemies attacking simultaneously, with subsequent vast amounts of firepower on screen. The player needs quick reflexes to navigate through all this fire while still attacking their enemies. Because no extra lives can be earned, only the most skilled players can finish the game without having to continue at least once.

Levels and bosses[edit | edit source]

Arcade version[edit | edit source]

  • 01. Frontline base — Missile Tank
  • 02. Thunderstorm 1 - Stealth Bomber
  • 03. Forest — Forest Fortress
  • 04. Desert — Ground Carrier
  • 05. Canyon — VTOL Bomber 'Bayson'
  • 06. Cave — Missile Launcher
  • 07. Airbase/Clouds — Giant Bomber 'Bullhead'
  • 08. Ocean — Sub-Boss: Submarine. Boss: Battleship 'Minks'
  • 09. Military Base — Arsenal
  • 10. Thunderstorm 2 - Project 4 Airborne Fortress

SNES version[edit | edit source]

  • 01. Frontline Base — Missile Tank
  • 02. Thunderstorm — Stealth Bomber
  • 03. Forest — Forest Fortress
  • 04. Desert — Ground Carrier
  • 05. Clouds — Stealth Fighters (Mercenaries)
  • 06. Ocean 1 - Nuclear Submarine 'Seavet'
  • 07. Ocean 2 - Battleship 'Minks'
  • 08. Canyon — SR-71 Blackbird
  • 09. Cave — Ceiling Machine
  • 10. Project 4 Base — Sub-Boss: Giant VTOL aircraft. Boss: Project 4 ship

Ports[edit | edit source]

U.N. Squadron (known as Area 88 in Japan) was ported to the SNES in 1991. The principal difference between the SNES version and the arcade version is that in the SNES game each pilot can use a range of planes. All pilots start out with $3,000 and the basic F8 Crusader and can buy other aircraft as they progress. Other differences include:

  • Single player only.
  • Different planes may be used by each pilot in contrast to the arcade version, where each pilot is tied to a particular aircraft.
  • More weapons are available in the between-level shop. However, energy tanks, shield and super shield is no longer available.
  • Missions can be tackled in any order chosen by the player (as long as that mission has been reached on the overhead map shown before choosing the pilot's plane and weapons).
  • Shin requires the least power ups to increase the vulcan cannon level, Mick benefits the most from ammo pickups, and Greg recovers from being damaged twice as fast as the other two pilots.
  • Mickey Simon is known as Mickey Scymon.
  • If a player takes damage, his/her plane will temporarily fall into critical condition. However, each plane is equipped with a fire extinguishing system—when the plane recovers, albeit with less energy, he/she will be safe again. If the player allows his/her energy meter to drop too low, the player's aircraft will remain critically damaged, and will be destroyed with the next hit unless he/she finds an energy recovery item.
  • Unlike the arcade version, where the player only has one "life" per credit, the player now begins with 3 lives, and extra lives can be earned. After losing all his/her lives, he/she can only continue up to three times before the game is entirely over.
  • In addition to not having the same levels as the original arcade version, some of the levels on the SNES version were heavily modified. Certain bosses are replaced by new ones, and some bosses' weapons and attack patterns were modified.
  • The SNES version has "Quartermaster Corps" sub-levels that appear as green truck convoys on the map screen. Here, the objective is to simply destroy the enemy supply trucks, but there is a time limit. If all trucks are destroyed before time runs out, the player will earn $20,000.
  • The stage and boss background music are different from those in the arcade version (e.g. the theme from the "Canyon" stage would be used for the "Battleship Minks" stage in the SNES version), though most of the arcade music was rewritten for the SNES version. Toshio Kajino, Mari Yamaguchi and Yasushi Ikeda ported many of the pieces from Manami Matsumae's original score.

The SNES version also includes more aircraft than the arcade version:

  • F-8E Crusader: This is the aircraft that players start with. The ceiling for the Crusader's gun power is average, and the aircraft can only carry three types of special weapons.
  • F-20 Tigershark: The cheapest aircraft that can be purchased after completion of the third mission. This aircraft has mediocre weapons capability but it is well suited to both air and ground attack.
  • F-14D Tomcat: The F-14D Tomcat is intended primarily for air-to-air combat and carries no real ordnance for attacking ground targets. It is the most maneuverable of all of the aircraft.
  • A-10 Thunderbolt II: Intended for ground attack, the A10 fires two shots for every gun burst. One travels forward and the second (slightly weaker) shot travels at a downward 45-degree angle. However, the gun has a low power ceiling.
  • YF-23 Stealth Ray: Capable of carrying a wide range of armaments, the YF23's primary attribute is that of stealth. As such, the enemy's guided weapons, such as missiles, will not track the plane.
  • F-200 Efreet: The best fighter available in the game. The Efreet has the highest weapon power ceiling, can carry all of the special weapons, can carry more special weapon ammo than any other fighter and is tough to destroy. As such, it is the most expensive fighter available in the game and it is easy to play the whole game without ever having enough money to purchase it. (The EF-200 Efreet is nearly identical in appearance to the MIG-31 Firefox from the movie of the same name.)

Reception[edit | edit source]

U.N. Squadron was named the number one 2D 'shooter' of all time by Handsome Tom and Stuttering Craig of ScrewAttack.[1] Stuttering Craig even placed U.N. Squadron in a tie with Gradius III for the 17th Best Super Nintendo game ever[2] and dedicated a Top 9 List of the reasons why it's awesome on the games entry in the Video Game Vault.[3]

References[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]