Dreaming in Digital’s Conclusion to the Top SNES Games of All Time

2 Nov

2323: U.N. Squadron
(1991, Capcom)

Based on Area-88, a Japanese manga that ran from the 70’s to the mid-80’s. It follows the adventures of a pilot named Shin Kazama who is tricked into working for a group of mercenaries for hire. In order to buy his way back to a normal life, he has to deal with the moral issues and self-loathing that killing for hire brings him. In any case, Shin excels in his work and is left to wonder if he is fighting for survival, or is he coming to enjoy this life that he’s found?

Area-88 was brought to arcades by Capcom as a fast-paced side-scrolling shooter similar to Gradius by Konami. You choose between three pilots based on characters from the Area-88 manga. Each pilot flies a different model of plane and has different stats such as speed, armor, and rate of fire. Each level you play is a mission for Area-88 where you not only have to destroy the targets, but you make money as well. In between levels you have access to a shop where you can buy upgrades and more powerful weaponry to make future stages more survivable.

Capcom ported Area-88 to the Super Nintendo as one of the earliest games available and renamed it U.N. Squadron in North America and Europe despite the manga having a cult following. The SNES version of the game added some extra missions and gave the player the opportunity to select which mission they wanted to undertake next. The pilots retain their handling characteristics, but now they all fly the same aircraft. But the store was expanded to offer a wide selection of aircraft to fly.

The graphics are some of the best available on a home console at the time and are only a slight downgrade from the original arcade game but U.N. Squadron does suffer from slow down when the action gets intense like many early Super Nintendo games. The audio truly shines, however. Sound effects are higher quality than their arcade counterparts, even with a slightly muffled quality to them. Fortunately, the music more than makes up for it and blows the arcade’s chiptunes out of the sky with the Super Nintendo’s sample-based music processor. Taking the same tunes as the arcade and offering a much better sounding way to listen to the amazing soundtrack.

This was the second game I ever played on the Super Nintendo and it’s still one of my favorites. Give a shot and take to the sky!

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