SNES Shooters – Star Fox & U.N. Squadron

Nintendo’s Star Fox and Capcom’s UN Squadron are two of the more well-known and well-respected shooters on the Super Nintendo. But only one of these games was in my library and played extensively back in the 90s. I picked up UN Squadron from a high school buddy who had beaten the game and wanted to unload it so he could buy a new title. I was happy to add another game to my tiny SNES library at the time (approx. 1993-1994 timeframe) and I was into shooters so it was right up my alley. UN Squadron is a difficult game that I recall getting pretty far in many, many years ago (also known as BACK IN THE DAY) but boy do I suck at this game today. I can barely get past three levels when playing it now. That brings up an interesting fact about UN Squadron for those who haven’t played it. Beyond the first level, a player will have several options for the next level to play afterwards, which gives the game a non-linear approach to beating it. Fighter and weapon upgrades can be purchased and these are critical in taking out some of the enormous bosses. I like how it’s a trial and error approach to purchasing weapons only to find out that a weapon you didn’t pick up is probably more suited to the types of enemies that you’ll find. I will always remember the huge battleship boss fight which requires multiples passes in order to take out all of the ship’s weak points and guns. I recall thinking I was screwed the first time I wasn’t able to defeat it after the first pass and I assumed I would have to repeat the whole level again but your plane will make a u-turn and you can continue blasting away. Such a cool feature I had never seen in a game prior. I will also always remember the music to UN Squadron just as much as I will the gameplay. The music is super up-beat and perfect for a shooter. I will also always remember the slowdown but to me, that was just a way of life playing shooters on home consoles. I have no idea if UN Squadron is considered one of the best shooters on the SNES but to me it will always be a classic.

Now, as for Star Fox, I have zero nostalgia for this game. I will always favor 2D sprites over 3D polygons every day of the week and while I have now accepted that there are some amazing 3D games out there, at the time, the blocky look of Star Fox wasn’t appealing to me. Now, I’ve played some Star Fox and I get why it was innovative and fun and super popular but there are so many other games on the SNES I’d rather play. I like the concept of galactic fighter team comprised of common animals personified (fox, toad, rabbit, falcon) taking on Emperor Andross and his evil army. I like the fact that some levels offer perspective of behind the ship and first person to change things up. The game is simple enough to pick up and play and putting the visuals in perspective for a 1993 16-bit console release, it is all appealing enough. I wish the enemies looked more like actual enemies as I often find myself blasting away at everything because I can’t really tell what’s an enemy and what’s a power-up. I don’t mind the interactions between Fox McCloud and his teammates when one of them finds themselves in a bind and you must bail them out by blasting the enemy that’s on his tail. I don’t have a lot of gripes against this game to be honest beyond that it’s not really for me. Probably wasn’t really for me when it was released either so I won’t blame my feelings about Star Fox on it being “dated”. When your game is over you can continue based on a credit system you earn in the game but I wish there was a save system instead. Star Fox is one of those “of its time” games but I still think it’s an important SNES title and a good one to have in your collection if even if I don’t personally find it to be an amazing game.

Currently in my collection:

Star Fox – game, manual B-

U.N. Squadron – game, manual, box B+

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