The overall idea of the game is great... An amount of missions, map, enemy tanks and planes getting closer to reaching your headquarters, shop, and then there're the three characters you get to choose from.
What's a bit stupid, though, is how the characters say the same things. For example, I completed a mission, and Greg says "You guys chose the wrong team!"
Fine, I thought, as I pressed the Reset button on the SNES. Now I choose Shin, get up to the same level, and complete it. Expecting him to say something quite different to what Greg said, I was told that "You guys chose the wrong team!" Yeah, great. Oh, and Mickey says exactly the same - thanks, Mick.
Surely a bit more text can't eat up that much memory, can it, Capcom? There are 3 characters, then, but not much character.
Another niggle is the sound - it's 'kach- plachsplach' instead of 'dakka dakkadakka- powkeeerrrash' (or something). Shooting the enemies should leave a really meaty sound effect behind, not 'kach'. (I'm dreadfully sorry about this, and I await the day you can add sound effects to paper.)
The graphics are good on some occasions, but bland on others. One minute you're getting a near-photo quality (ish) background, and then a bland sky with little detail follows. Some of the aircraft look a bit pathetic, too, but there are still some well-drawn ones in there if you look.
The music doesn't really push your SNES, and the same samples and instruments are used throughout the soundtracks in the game. They're still okay, though, and better than nothing.
The missions themselves are reasonably long, and there are 10 of them altogether,
so UN Squadron will last you a fair amount of time. (Actually, there's a bombing mission (Mission-Ex) in there, but this is far too short to actually be counted as a level, though it gives you a good chance to build up that cash.)
The 3 (well, 4, actually, but I'll come to that in a minute) difficulty settings are pitched about right, so Easy provides a good enough challenge for novice games-players - Medium is fine for most people; and Hard is for the expert player - for people like myself. (Can I hear a feint coughing sound in the background?)
There's even a 'Gamer' setting. (To activate it, plug in the second joypad, go to the options screen, highlight 'Difficulty' with the second pad, and hold down the 'A' and 'X' buttons. Now alter the difficulty setting with the first pad.) After a long time of joypad bruising, I completed, what I thought, was 'it'. But I was delighted when I'd 'discovered' the Gamer difficulty setting, because it meant that my fun wasn't over. I had a go at it, and, here are the exclusive comments:
"Right, then, this shouldn't be too much of a problem... (Eh, Brian?)"
"Now wait a second, aren't those bullets going a bit too fast (Trevor)? Ref! Ref!"
"Aaaarrrgh! This really is horrible. How am I supposed to do this ?"
"And this submarine level - look at the speed of those planes. He-elp!"
10 minutes later...
"Aaaaaaaaaaaa- aarrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh !!!!!!!!!"
This difficulty level is hard, then, and if anyone can complete it on this setting, please write in and tell me - I'll send you a paper medal, or something.
Onto the comments...
UN Squadron isn't really my cup of tea. I know a lot of people like it, and, indeed, I found that it was quite playable; but it's a bit too frustrating for my liking, and you shouldn't have a limited supply of weapons - they should be unlimited, just like in Super Aleste et al.
Oh, and that auto-fire thing was certainly irritating after I'd played Super Aleste for
so long - very stop-start indeed.
As already mentioned, the graphics and sound are nothing to write home about, and some of the animation can be a little poor. There's still a nice 'military' atmosphere about the game though, and it's just what we really need right now, in the wake of the 'shoot 'em up set in space, with spaceships, massive, 3¾ eyed-guardians, and the big-megaboss from 'Klon'.
UN Squadron is just a little overrated as far as I'm concerned. Something like Gradius 3 or Parodius isn't quite as frustrating as this.
Still, I'd say it's worth buying if you're not sick of shoot 'em ups by now, but for 50 round, gold, shiny and small coins, I expect a bit more than a standard 10-level horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up with brass knobs on.
A couple of you may, or may not know about UN Squadron:1. There used to be a UN Squadron comic in Japan, but, er, there isn't any more. 2. There's a sequel to UN in the arcades, known as Carrier Airwing. So there you go, now you know.
What shoot 'em ups really lack are really good weapons. Thankfully, along comes Super Aleste to prove me wrong. How would you like a massive beam weapon similar to that of R-Type's? But not just any old beam weapon - oh no! - this time you get four (count 'em) beam weapons joined together, each powerful enough to er, cause a rather large amount of destruction to all and sundry. But if you don't fancy that, how about six individual drones that almost cover the screen, each shooting a path of bullets, hmm? If it's weapons you're after, here's a list covering the lot of 'em:
1 - Multiple Shot (MPL): The basic start-off weapon, the multiple shot is reasonably powerful, reasonably rapid and covers a reasonable area. Using the Select-control button, you can change the direction of the bullets.
2 - Laser (LSR): Not one of my faves, the laser (at its strongest power) will release three laser rays. Pressing Select-control will turn one of those rays into a semi-homing.
3 - Circle (CIR): A set of nice green spheres will circle around your ship and damage anything that gets in their way. Use Select-control to lock them.
4 - Multi-Direction Shot (MDS): Shoots powerful bullets in the direction that your ship is moving. Select-control will lock the shots in their present direction.
5 - Missile (MIS): The usual homing missiles. Pressing Select-control will turn them into standard bullets.
6 - Power Shot (PWR): Holding down the fire button will build up a beam or even 4.
When you hold down the Select-control button, you won't have the extra bullets, but the beam can be powered up more quickly.
7 - Spread: As mentioned before, up to six drones cover part of the screen each emitting bullets. Use the Select-control button to fix them in their positions.
8 - Scatter Shot: Pressing the fire button will release 'blobs' of energy. On contact, each blob will split into small bullets.
As you can see, most weapons are 'above average'. In fact, some people may argue that the weapons actually take over the game. To be honest, I think they actually add to the game - it's fun to try out all the different types of weapon, for example.
Before I tell you any more about the gameplay, here's the plot: Er... actually, as you may already know, I don't really take plots in, I just copy them from the manual (rumbled!); but the plot in this manual is far too long to copy, and I can't be bothered to read it - let me just guess that some enemies from another planet are planning to take over the Earth and so it is up to you to stop them. Well, that's the usual story-line for shoot 'em ups isn't it? The intro-sequence at the start doesn't make things much clearer, being just a series of screens.
The options screen is quite comprehensive, giving you the ability to select your control method, difficulty setting, and even the chance to take a break from the game and watch some nice Mode-7 graphics. The difficulty levels include Normal (easy), Hard (just that), Hyper and Tricky (both v. hard), and Wild (incredibly
tricky). All are easy if you use the infinite
continues provided, but experts won't use
one. (The ratings of the difficulty levels show how hard the game is without using one of the continues, by the way.) The only real problem is that most people with little will-power will use the continues provided, meaning they'll cruise through the game, reducing the lastability of Super Aleste tenfold.
Anyway, as soon as you're into the game, you can expect a nice treat graphics-wise with some top-notch Mode-7. The game boasts twelve levels. Come with me on a guided tour around them...
AREA 1 - The Forest:
Taking place over some swirly clouds and a tropical forest, the first area is a good starting block for building up bombs, weapons and lives (you get an extra one when your score reaches 50,000, 200,000 and 500,000). Try shooting some of the scenery for extra goodies and don't worry too much about the boss at the end - he's easy. (So easy in fact, that if you have the multiple shot weapon at full power, you can actually stay at the bottom-centre of the screen without getting hurt once!)
Novice or intermediate player: Circle or missile.
Expert player: Multi Direction Shot
AREA 2 - The Spaceship:
As you're shooting the standard enemies, you may notice something - a spaceship is
scaling towards you! As the screen scrolls around the ship (when it's finally at your level), the idea is to blow out each of its turrets. When you have done this, you are taken to the central controller - destroy this, and the ship goes hurtling off into the distance!
Novice/intermediate: Circle or missile
Expert: Multiple Shot