U.N. Squadron (1991) – Super Nintendo Retro Review

Up, Up and away is UN Squadrons style!

un squadron

Shoot ‘em up’s usually come in two guises, horizontal or vertical and generally one theme, spaceships shooting alien hordes so it’s refreshing to see one that decided to take a different route with modern planes and an earth based setting against a foe is very human in nature.

un squadron stealth bomber
Taking down a stealth bomber is tricky and fun

UN Squadron which was released in 1991 is such a game and still stands out as an example of one of the best shooters ever released on the SNES and probably ranks high on the list of all -time favorites that have graced any console over the years. It’s based on the earlier arcade version and for once it’s better than its arcade parent which Capcom release back in 1989.

The storyline of UN Squadron is loosely based on the Japanese Manga, Area 88. A very popular anime series from the ‘80’s. The setting is a fictional middle east country and you are a mercenary fighter pilot who is there to defend and attack Project K who are hell bent on taking over the previously mentioned middle east based country.

Thus begins your adventure to defeat the foe and win the war and whilst it’s not the most difficult game in the world (on easy or normal anyway) it a lot of fun getting through the levels and taking down the bosses.

So, you start off UN Squadron with a nice Mode 7 intro watching your F8 Crusader fighter take off from the run way and after checking the basic game options (difficulty level is the main choice here) the game starts.

un squadron level end screen
You’ll get rewarded with a little cut scene like this at the end of each level

In UN Squadron can choose one of three pilots, Shin Kazama, Greg Gates and Mickey who are from the Manga.

Each pilot in U.N. Squadron has its own play style, for example, some will recover quickly if they get hit or can use more than one special weapon at a time. Either way, your best bet, to begin with, is to be Greg Gates as he recovers quickly from being hit by the enemy hordes so is a safe bet, to begin with.

After you’ve chosen who you’re going to be you then go to the shop to buy your weapons from your friendly neighborhood arms dealer.

Your choice is limited based on what ship you have. You start off with the F8 Crusader but you can upgrade to one of eight fighters both real world and fictional, more on that later.

UN Squadron starts out as a standard shooter, you have air and ground units to shoot and some will be orange in color so when you get all of them you’ll be rewarded with a power up the unit. Collect enough of these and your main guns get bigger until eventually, you’re throwing out a stream of bullets at your foes.

un squadron land carrier boss
The Land Carrier Boss looks awesome

It’s a nice touch that you have to buy the weapons you need for each level and patiently collect power-ups until you can get a bigger gun.

Now on to the levels themselves in UN Squadron. They are really varied with jungles, sea and desert levels and later on in the game, cavernous bases before you take on the final boss.

Now all of this sounds pretty standard fare and it is really but it’s the bosses that await you that really stand out.

Some levels will pit you up against groups of devious stealth bombers or a supersized SR-71 Blackbird but others will have you up against multi-screen fortresses, battleships, and giant tank tracked land-based aircraft carriers. It’s an awesome sight and one that still stands out today.

The levels in UN Squadron and bosses do get progressively harder as you’d expect them to so you’ll need more than your trusty F8 Crusader to get you to the end and the options are varied both in abilities and cost.

Once a level gets completed in UN Squadron you get rewarded with a boat load of cash which you can spend on more weapons or new planes to aid you in your progress.

un squadron fortress boss
The graphics in UN Squadron still look great. Look at that sky!

You can purchase an A-10 Tank buster which has mostly ground based weapons and to balance it out it has dual cannons as a standard weapon or an F-14 Tomcat which is the fastest jet and has mostly air based weaponry. All are great for certain levels but none are the master of all except for the most expensive plane the Efreet which is the only fictional plane and also the most expensive.

It will take a lot to get there so there are some bonus levels where you can shoot up a load of delivery trucks to get an extra $20,000 a time which you will need to do. As the last two levels are jammed packed with enemies and of course the final bosses you need to defeat as well.

Overall this game deserves your time. It one I keep going back to time and time again so it’s definitely one to get or revisit.

Considering UN Squadron is one of the first batch of games to come out on the Super Nintnedo it really did show the system off with catchy music, great graphics and very addictive ‘just one more go’ gameplay makes this a much sought after game for collectors and fans of the genre today.

If you want to see why we love UN Squadron. Here’s the game in all it glory!

Up Next: Another Super Nintendo Classic Get the Retroheadz Seal of Approval, the game? Batman Returns. Check out why we love it here.

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Child of the 80's, teenager through the 90's and raving party animal in the 00's. Loves old cars, games, sci-fi movies and skating. He also owns too many pairs of Reebok Pumps.


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