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Sales flyer for the arcade version.
Manami Matsumae &
Mari Yamaguchi &
|Release date(s)||August 1989
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players, cooperative|
|Display||Raster, 384 x 224 pixels (Horizontal), 4096 colors|
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 (Japanese: エリア88 Hepburn: 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.
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, like other Capcom shooters, the player has a life / 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. 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.
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.
- 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 Shin's 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. Greg is also able to take slightly more damage than the other two.
U.N. Squadron (known as Area 88 in Japan) was ported to the Super Nintendo (or Super Famicom) 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 $3000 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, shields can no longer be purchased—they must be found in the levels.
- 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 increases his firepower the most quickly, Mick can shoot two special weapons at the same time, and Greg recovers from being damaged twice as fast as the others" is what the manual states. In actuality, this means that Shin requires the least power ups to increase the vulcan cannon level, Mick benefits the most from ammo pickups, and Greg's description is self-explanatory.
- Mickey Simon is known as Mickey Scymon.
- If a player takes damage, his/her plane will temporarily fall into critical condition-
"DANGER" flashes on the energy meter. During this condition, any hit will destroy the player's aircraft. However, each plane is equipped with a fire extinguishing system—when the plane recovers, albeit with less energy, the energy meter will read "EXTINCT" and 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, he/she now begins with 3 lives, and extra lives can be earned, with the first one at 30000 points, and then for every 100000 points thereafter. Upon losing all lives, the player can continue up to 3 times, but if he/she chooses "END" or loses all his/her credits (which are required to continue) the game will be over.
- In addition to not having the same levels as the original 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 had "Quartermaster Corps" sub-levels that appeared as green trucks convey 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 in time, the player earns $20,000. It is possible to beat this stage while only destroying the trucks, and not all the enemy weapons. Doing so will reduce the bonus money won at the end of the stage.
- 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 port), 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 aircrafts 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 attacks.
- 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.)
- U.N. Squadron at Arcade-History
- Area 88 at the Killer List of Videogames
- U.N. Squadron at MobyGames
- U.N. Squadron at the Killer List of Videogames
- U.N. Squadron at GameFAQs
- UN Squadron SNES review from Mean Machines Archive
- Area 88 review at the Anime Super Famicom Web Resource Center