“Top Gun on the SNES”
Developed and published by Capcom, U.N. Squadron was a side-scrolling shooter in the arcade before it was ported to the Super Nintendo in 1991. U.N. Squadron has you taking control of three pilots as you navigate your way through a war map taking out enemy targets and bases. How would the modern-day fighter pilot game fair? Hint: it soars to new heights!
From the game manual:
“A year ago, a ruthless army of mercenaries swept across the kingdom of Aslan and destroyed everything in their path. Guided by the arms dealers of Project 4, the mercenaries now control every area of the country – except one.
On a tiny piece of desert lies the last hope of the people of Aslan. There, in a small corner of Area 88, are the world’s finest pilots – the UN Squadron. For months they have been waiting for the exact moment to begin their assault on the forces of Project 4. That moment has just arrived.
Each pilot begins his tour of duty with $3000 in his flight account and an unlimited number of F8E Crusader aircraft. As you destroy air and ground targets, money will be added to your flight account. This money can be used to help purchase additional aircraft and weapon systems to help increase your chance of survival. And only the best survive.”
So there you have it, you’re a mercenary pilot hired to protect Area 88 and drive out the enemy.
Wow, let’s get this out of the way right now. The graphics and color pallet for U.N. Squadron is incredible. It’s one of the most beautiful games on the Super Nintendo and every time I play a new level my eyes have an orgasm mix of colors and graphics.
You can choose from three different pilots to fly as each with different personalities. Again, from the manual:
Shin Kazama – Born in Tokyo, Japan. Top Gun of the UN Squadron. Shin raises his power level the quickest.
Mickey Scymon – Born in San Francisco, California. Served as a US Navy pilot in Vietnam. Mickey is capable of handling the most special weapons.
Greg Gates – Born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Former instructor to N.A.T.O. pilots. Greg recovers from battle damage the quickest.
I played as Shin and he looked the youngest and the one I’d relate to the most. Once you pick your pilot you’ll need to pick your fighter jet. The game offers six different jets to fly in but you’ll start out in the F8E Crusader and to be honest, it’s not a terrible jet. I ended up upgrading to the F14D Tomcat and stuck with it the rest of the way. The Tomcat is considered the fastest and most agile jet which is what I like in shooters. There are plenty of others to choose from each with their specialties like being great against ground targets or undetectable against homing missiles. After selecting your jet, you’ll need to stock up on special weapons. There are 11 different weapons to select and each has its strengths. Some will fire in all directions, some are best for ground attacks, some are lasers, some shoot missiles straight up, and some are just really powerful!
You’ll need to select a mission next, this is what makes U.N. Squadron awesome is that you can select the enemy you want to attack next. A large map is displayed with the enemy forces honing in on your base. My strategy was just to take out the nearest target to my base as I cleaned out the map. Before heading for takeoff, your commander will drop hints on the boss of the mission you selected so you know what weapons to take with you.
The graphics remind me a little of Metal Slug with the type of sprites you’ll see from enemies. Most of the enemies will be in fighter jets but you’ll also take on tanks, ships, submarines, and other mounted guns on various objects. Each environment is gorgeous ranging from a level where you fly through huge white puffy clouds, to a desert that has heatwaves, to fighting over a deep blue ocean. Some objects in the environments are destructible like the trees in the forest level that you can mow down. Others will have details in the background like lightning.
Bosses range from huge tanks to stealth bombers, and massive forts that require you to turn around multiple times to finish your bombing run or to ensure that everyone is destroyed. Missions are typically short not lasting more than two minutes. Some are as short as thirty seconds depending on the objectives. The best part about beating a level is the quick cut scene that takes place as your pilot does a trick and flys toward the screen while shouting some catchphrase about the level you just beat. It’s awesome and feels like the game is encouraging you. You’ll need encouragement because this game is brutal! It’s very tough and if I could nitpick at it, it’s the difficulty. You can turn the game to easy if you want but U.N. Squadron is for advanced gamers who are great at shooters. I got my ass kicked numerous times on the cave ceiling machine.
When you beat the game you are greeted with a short cutscene of all three pilots chatting over the airwaves and flying off into the sunset.
I’m being honest when I say I have never heard of this game until I picked to review it for the SNES after reading about some of the best shooters for the system.
One of the best shooters available for the SNES. It has a beautiful color pallet along with tons of customization. Be warned though, this isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ll get ass kicked in this game.
U.N. Squadron scores a 9.0 out of 10.
Do you remember when U.N. Squadron first came out? Which was your favorite pilot to play as? What fighter jet did you select? Were you able to beat the game or was it too difficult? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!
If you’d like to own a copy of U.N. Squadron, you can purchase a used copy of it for SNES from eBay for around $60.