Quality Control, Video games

Quality Control – UN Squadron

UN Squadron Box art

Get UN Squadron from eBay

By the time you read this, I will have a copy of Final Fantasy XIII in my hands. So, since I don’t want to do a game for Quality Control that would take time that I could otherwise spend studying or playing Final Fantasy XIII, I’m picking UN Squadron for my Quality Control. Additionally, since this game is based on an anime and manga series (Area 88), I’m also going to do a review of the first OVA series (presumably the one that came out contemporary with the game). That review will, of course, come out later. First, though, we scramble for the review. (See what I did there? Fighter pilot joke).

The Premise

Shin Kazama is a young, successful, Japanese airline pilot. He’s got a lucrative job with a major Japanese airline. The boss’s daughter digs him. Everything looks good. So good in fact, that he doesn’t realize that his friend Satoru resents his success. So, he’s caught rather off guard when Satoru gets him drunk, and signs him up with a mercenary contract with the Air Force with the nation of Aslan (a fictitious Middle Eastern/North African country), which is in the middle of a civil war between the two heirs to the throne. Shin (lucky him) gets stationed at an air base near the front lines, the titular Area 88. Shin has only two ways in which he could get out of this war alive – last the 3 years of his contract, or earn $1.5 Million from the bounties for shooting down enemy pilots and destroying targets so he can buy out his contract. Did I mention that he has to pay for his own fuel, ammunition, and if he gets shot down he has to buy new planes?

The Good

It’s a shump with a life bar. More than that, it’s got a level up system for your gun, so that when/if you die, you keep the same powered up gun when you start over. The selection of power-up items you can purchase are excellent. The bullet patterns for the enemies, while difficult, are avoidable with practice. The variety of level environments (and the objectives you have to complete) are nice, the controls are rock solid (at least with an analog stick), and the sound effects and music are good.

The Bad

One of the of the bosses (one of the last two – before the final level) is designed in away that it can only be beaten with certain planes or special weapons.

The Ugly

There are no mid-mission checkpoints. If you die in a mission, you have to start over from the beginning. The game also limits your possible continues. As I’ve expressed previously, there’s no particular reason to put a limited number of continues in a home console game. Limiting your continues and making you start the level over from the very beginning when you die, when you’re dealing with a home console game (instead of an arcade game), only serve to artificially pad out the game.

The Verdict

This is a very, very good shump. I’d even say it’s one of the best Shumps on the SNES. I strongly recommend picking it up, though if you want to get it, you’ll have to get it through eBay, and you’ll need a SNES to play it.