AREA 88
( U.N Squadron )
game Cover
game cartridge
エリア88
©Daipro 1989,1991
©Capcom 1989,1991
Release: 1991-07-26 (¥8800)
Cartridge SHVC-E8
Shooter/ Horizontal

American Version
country
Released in America as
U.N. SQUADRON
( SNS-E8-USA )

European Version
country
Released in Europe as
U.N. SQUADRON
( SNSP-E8-XXX )
Area 88 (aka U.N. Squadron in the rest of the world) is a side scrolling shooter by Capcom, conversion of their own arcade game originally released in 1989. An evil general and his army are taking over the world and they must be stopped. A group of three highly skilled mercenary pilots who blow things up for cash, Shin Kazama, Mickey Scymon and Greg Gates, accept the mission readily. On board of their aircrafts they're now ready to defeat the greedy dictator and restore peace. One of the distinctive feature of the game is the ability given to the player to purchase new weapons and fighter planes. Right from the start, pilots are offered a F8E Crusader fighter and some cash. Then after each mission, the earned cash can be used to purchase new weapons or a brand new fighter giving the player a sense of customization. But there is a catch and special weapons and cash are lost if the player happens to die during a mission. Each pilot also comes with his own specialty - Shin, the young hero pilot, can level up the standard plane's Vulcan gun faster than his friends, Mickey, the hot-shot, can carry more special weapons and Greg, the veteran, has more health and can recover faster from injuries. The game is vast and offers not less than ten intense stages. It is however one player only.
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Area 88 is based on a Japanese Manga series published from 1979 to 1986. It was created by Kaoru Shintani and tells the story of Shin Kazawa, a mercenary fighter pilot training for the Area 88 air force base. The manga was very popular in Japan and was even adapted into at least three OVAs in 1985 and a twelve episode animation series in 2005. Shin Kazawa is the hero character of Capcom's arcade game released in 1989 and called Area 88. Curiously, the game was renamed U.N Squadron in the rest of the world, even if the manga was actually translated and published in the US by Viz Comics under the original Area 88 name. UN Squadron also came out for the Amiga (1990), Atari ST (1990), Amstrad CPC (1990), Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1990) and Commodore 64 (1990). A sequel called US Navy (aka Carrier Air Wing in the rest of the world) followed in the arcades in 1990.

This Super Famicom version tested here features a couple of differences with the original arcade game. First of all, players can buy different planes for their pilots to fly, unlike the original arcade game where each pilot has only one plane (F20 Tigershark, F14 Tomcat and A10 Thunderbolt). Then the shop counts more and different power-ups and some stages are very different, especially the end of the game and the boss awaiting there. But I won't spoil that for you.

Game Staff (Copied from the American version's end credits) :

SFX U.N.Squadron STAFF

Planner
Hisashi "mx5" Yamamoto
Programmer
Yoshito "LEO" Itoh
Masayuki "IMO" Akahori
Norito "COZY" Kojima
Koji "YOSHILIM" Yoshida
Harunobu "IMG" Imagawa
Object Design
Masao "SAKSAN" Sakurai
Mayumi "TUBE" Tanabe
Scroll Design
Miki "KIX" Kijima
Yukari "KAKKUN" Kakuta
MACHAKO
Shizuyo "UCCHAN" Ukai
Chiharu "SILKROAD" Akagi
Sound Programmer
SAKAGUCHI
Sound Design
BULL
MARI
IKE-BOMB
English Story
Scott "MADMAN" Maxwell
Very Special Thanks
Kiyomi "KANEKON" Kaneko
"BAMBOO"

U.N.Squadron ARCADE STAFF
SPECIAL THANKS
SUPER TOM-PON
Iriko-Chan
MINORU
HIDE
NAKED
CAPCOM STAFF
and You!!

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Area 88 is an excellent conversion. The original game was a great shooter with an unique weapon system and a solid gameplay. Area 88 has an important part of strategy depending on what pilot you pick and what special weapons and fighters you later purchase (which wasn't available in the original arcade game). The game is intense and frantic, the difficulty is well balanced and will challenge beginners as well as hardcore gamers. Capcom also changed parts of the game making it worth every penny, even for fans who happen to know the original arcade game from the inside-out. A truly great shooter.




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