Author: Pete

Retro Monday – U.N. Squadron

Hi everyone. I’m here to let you know what I thought of U.N. Squadron after a week or so’s break.

It was made by Capcom and was originally an arcade game that came out in 1989. It was later released on consoles, and the version I’m playing was released on the SNES in 1991 (and 1992 in Europe).

We’ll start off with the basics. It’s a side-on side scrolling shooter – think R-Type or Gradius – but with a more modern skin than the futuristic space battle of those aforementioned games. You can pick between three characters, of which I have no clue as to what they do other than changing the portrait on your HUD.

You take down enemy helicopters, planes, tanks, gun emplacements and all that jazz. It doesn’t really do anything special and I don’t think it stands out from the crowd when it comes to its genre. One thing that is different to the usual is a levelling system, as you pick up power-ups that give you experience to level instead of getting power-ups that give you different weapons. You also don’t have one-hit deaths, instead you have a health bar and you don’t lose your level when you die. You also have a map screen to pick where you go next, kind of like Bionic Commando, but you have vehicles that move towards your base slowing progress, more so when they get there as you have to beat the vehicle’s stage to carry on with normal progression.

Visually the game is a mixed bag. The sprites are rather nice, but the backgrounds just seem a little bland. It’s probably as there’s going to be points where the game gets really busy, but I would say overall it’s pretty nice to look at. Musically it’s pretty good too. The music is really catchy and the first level has a sort of sinister undertone to it. I think the nice beefy sound effects elevate the action.

Verdict: Recommended

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Retro Monday – Gekibo: Gekisha Boy

Gekibo: Gekisha Boy is a Japan-only PC Engine game that came out in 1992. It was made by Tomcat System and was published by Irem.

This is a game that again I never heard of, and with good reason as it wasn’t released outside of Japan. The game is a side-scrolling shoot ’em up… well, kinda – you shoot a camera. The game scrolls along and you automatically move with it, you can move your character left and right, and jump, but moving left and right also moves the cursor with which you take your shots.  For me it was a little on the fiddly side,  I think a modern control scheme with dual analogues would work great or a mouse to use for the cursor.

The game itself is OK, I think the gameplay is average at best. To me the main draw of the game is the things you can take photos of, interesting little things that happen as you walk through the level. For example, in the very first stage, you can take a photo of UFOs, one abducting a car, a plane crash, a flasher – yes, a pervy guy flashing his junk – and even a DeLorean flying in the sky then jumping through time. On stage two it ranges from King Kong to Micheal Jackson.

Unfortunately, with its slow-moving cursor and things appearing at set times only briefly, it’s hard to get good pictures. It’s really one of those games you have to play over and over to get used to when and where things are going to pop out, which is OK. But once you’ve seen the cool stuff that it shows you, you don’t really get the thrill on the second or third playthrough.

Graphically the game is rather good, there’s a great style to the characters and locations. The downside is I can’t even remember the music. I’m sure there was some there, but it’s totally forgettable. I think this is a game to try – not for how good or bad it is – but because it’ll be fun to see references to real life, films, music and just plain wacky stuff.

Verdict: Tentatively recommended.

Join Pedz for Retro Monday on GRcade’s Twitch channel every week, and vote on what he plays next on GRcade

Retro Monday – Gunstar Future Heroes

Gunstar Future Heroes is the sequel to the classic Mega Drive game Gunstar Heroes. It was made for the Game Boy Advance and like its predecessor was developed by Treasure and published by Sega. It was released in 2006.

Gunstar Future Heroes is a run and gun game, that plays like the previous title in the series. But there are differences. For example, there’s no throw so you can’t throw enemies around. Also, instead of having weapon pick-ups and the varied combos they create, you get three pre-set gun types you can switch between.  It also has a similar story to the first game, Red and Blue (the protagonists) are trying to stop the villains (Green, Grey, Pink, and so on) from getting treasure gems to revive the Destroyer. The previous game’s villains are the same people as in the first game. Even the fights with them are the same or very similar, but the heroes are different people. It’s set after the first game, but really re-tells the same story.

The gameplay is fast and frantic, and you don’t get much time to breathe. You have to keep shooting enemies all the time. That’s great but of course at the same time there isn’t massive variety . While playing I stuck to the one gun, as I found Blue’s standard starting weapon to be the best for gunning down the enemy. I assume there are benefits to the other weapons for them to be there, but I didn’t really feel the need to use them. As I mentioned, the bosses seem similar to the previous game. Green, who you fight in a mine (again), even has the machine Seven Force and the mods are almost identical. But it’s fun to take on the bosses with a slightly different move set to Gunstar Heroes and with different weaponry.

Honestly, I liked the game. I want to play more, and want to play it to completion. Gunstar Heroes is a game I go back to almost yearly to play through, and I think Gunstar Future Heroes is a great sequel – even though it doesn’t manage to reach the highs of its predecessor.

Verdict: Highly recommended.

Join Pedz for Retro Monday on GRcade’s Twitch channel every week, and vote on what he plays next on GRcade