Retro games are a hot commodity. With the Xbox Live Arcade and Wii’s Virtual Console, it’s quickly becoming a prolific segment of the industry. Blogcritics is going to start looking at gaming’s generally under-appreciated past in a different way.
Teaming up with classic gaming database Digital Press, Blogcritics will be presenting some lost or under-appreciated classics in short reviews. Extras may include odd facts, the title’s impact on the industry, some personal retrospective, different ports the game may have received, and how well they hold up on today’s market. Our hope would be to introduce a new generation of gamers, or even those who recently purchased a game console for the first time to those games they missed and the legacy they left behind.
Ignored in nearly all “best of licensed titles” lists, U.N. Squadron took over the SNES shooter genre in September of 1991, easily overshadowing long-standing favorites R-Type and Gradius. Based off Japanese anime Area 88, this unique and gorgeous horizontal shooter remains one of the most undervalued on the market.
A translation of an arcade game, of which this SNES version does share some similarities, players pick one of three pilots. Each has a specific trait that makes them useful in combat. Shin Kazama, Mickey Simon, and Greg Gates are your choices with the ability to upgrade weapons faster, gain the most from ammo pick ups, and fix plane damage in half the time, respectively.
While the character selection is a rather mundane opening, the ability to earn cash for every enemy shot down opens the game up to a staggering amount of customization. New planes, each with the ability to hold specific weapons, increases the amount of strategy more than nearly any other shooter available, even today. This happens before you even dive into actual game play.
Levels are selected on a map, continuing the focus on making U.N. Squadron open to the players choices. Enemies appear at random times to attack the home base, and these assaults are the only time the player will be forced into a level. Otherwise, as the game progresses, multiple levels open at once and any can be selected.