Game Cover
©1986 Irem Corp.
Licensed from Home Data
Release: 1986-06-26 (¥4900)
Cartridge IF-04

American Version
Released in America as
Sqoon is a side scrolling shooter developed by Home Data and published by Irem. In a distant future, the gradual rise of the ocean flooded most of the land and submerged all the major cities at the bottom of the sea. But this was no accident. This was actually the work of a race of malevolent aliens called the "Ototo" (aka the Neptunians). The aquatic creatures had to leave their dying world and decided to invade Earth, melting the polar ice caps in a quest to destroy and enslave humanity (and even use them as food source!). In an effort to eliminate the unprecedented threat, the US Pentagon decides to contact the pirate and gold miner Narikīn (aka Narikeen), and to deploy the "Sqoon", his small pink attack submarine. But all cuteness aside, the deceptive amphibian vehicle is a lethal war machine and comes equipped with two types of combat weaponry - small torpedoes that can be fired forward and bombs to damage ground facilities and enemies. In a nutshell, the goal of the game is to fight through eight different areas and to rescue as many human hostages as possible along the way. Captured humans are kept prisoner inside various enemy buildings (domes and factories) the player must crack open with bombs. Once freed, the humans disperse in the water and the player must catch them before angry sharks (who always circle around) get a chance to sneak a bite. But the tiny Sqoon can only carry nine persons at a time and a motorized island instantly appears when that maximum capacity is reached, allowing the player to remove them to safety. Another important aspect of the game is fuel management - the Sqoon starts off its journey with sixty units of fuel that last no more than sixty seconds, and the only way to regain energy is to call the motorized island and to bring nine humans to safety. Interestingly, another way is to carry at least one human and to collect the piece of gold left behind by wandering red crabs before it disappears. Finally, the motorized island also release power-up icons that upgrade the primary missile weapon (from energy blasts to three-way shots). Sqoon consists of eight levels which loop upon completion (the second loop uses slightly different colors and graphics though).
screen shot screen shot
screen shot screen shot
screen shot screen shot
Sqoon LED light All the early Irem games released for the Famicom system featured a red LED that lit up when the console was powered on (picture on the right). This rather creative and unique marketing gimmick had a definite cool factor about it, and a total of seven games apparently included such feature : Zippy Race (1985), 10 Yard Fight (1985), Spelunker (1985), Sqoon (1986), Mashō (1986) and Spelunker 2 (1987). Interestingly, Irem may have realized at some point that the increased production costs associated with the (questionable) LED light was not really worth it, and at least four games were later re-released without it (Zippy Race, 10 Yard Fight, Spelunker and Sqoon). These alternate versions are quite rare and harder to come by than their LED counterparts.

Teaser text copied from the American version:
SOS! The World in sinking! This is the beginning of Neptunian invasion of the Earth. Humans are becoming food for the aliens. You must:
* Rescue the people and bring them to safety
* Destroy the hot water factories which are melting the ice caps.
* Destroy the bio-factories which create the scary Pirame, Anchos, etc...
* Destroy the base where hateful Neptunians live.
You must rescue the Earth! SOS! SOS! The World is sinking! Neptunian invasion has begun.

Japanese Guidebook
Japanese Guidebook
Japanese Guidebook
Japanese Guidebook


Sqoon manual Advertising
Click on picture to enlarge

Sqoon contains several secrets that reward the player in a variety of ways. Here are a few:

Sea Slugs (and ghosts):
Sqoon - sea slug Sqoon - mermaid necklace If you manage to kill the sea slug located at the beginning of each stage, you will receive the mermaid necklace and an extra life. This is rather tricky to achieve - only bombs can damage the slug and the tenacious little mollusk only dies after a certain number of hits (around ten it seems). However don't hit the necklace when it appears or it'll turn back into a slug! Sea slugs are replaced by weird looking ghosts in the second loop, but the effect is the same.

Alternate dimensions:
Sqoon - alternate dimensions First collect the mermaid necklace by killing a slug, then try to reach the next enemy factory without losing a life and destroy it (make sure you destroy all the flashing targets). The screen will then switch to a solid color and you will enter what the manual calls another "dimension" (it seems that the sub doesn't consume fuel in this mode).
Sqoon - church Church:
At the beginning of the game, move the sub over the church in the background to gain an extra life.

You don't have to use the motorized island as soon as it appears. You can call for it by grabbing a piece of gold, but only use it when you are close to running out of fuel. It is also good to never release all nine humans when the island appears - for instance, always keep three on board of the sub, this will allow you to call for the island again if you find a piece of gold (don't forget that you need at least one human to receive fuel). Also, avoid moving too close to the left corner of the screen, it is an area the sub can't reach and you will miss fuel tanks and human swimmers that happen to go there.

Add your Pov here !

Sqoon is a great missed opportunity. It was apparently the first original game released by Irem for the Famicom system, and in that respect, Sqoon was a strange (and poor) choice. The game starts harmless enough - it is technically very solid, the sub is fairly easy to control, the action is fast, the enemies are generic but get the job done and rescuing humans has its share of fun. And then you suddenly run out of fuel and crash to your untimely death. What the... ? After a few futile tries, you open the instruction manual and discover the horrific truth about refueling in Sqoon... In my opinion, collecting nine humans is a perfectly acceptable condition, but dropping a bomb on some crab so it releases gold ? Refueling quickly becomes a tedious chore and will likely be responsible for most of your deaths. Then the level design is truly uninspired, repetitive and enemy attacks are completely random. There are a few interesting secrets here and there, but the game just didn't gel for me. So I'll end this review the way I started it - Sqoon is a great missed opportunity. In truth, Sqoon could have been a more than acceptable (and unique) shooter if only the developers had gone for a more straightforward and traditional approach...

All logos and trademarks are © their respective owners. All pages content is © Video Game Den / Laurent KERMEL