It was based on the eponymous manga series and it features Shin, Mickey, and Greg of the as playable pilots, and McCoy and Saki as support characters.
The games share very little with the series (although it did use bounties as a way for the player to buy Power Ups between levels). The arcade version featured three different types of planes assigned for each character: Shin flew the F-20, Mickey the F-14, and Greg the A-10. The SNES version differentiated characters by how quickly they leveled up the main weapon and how quickly they recovered from damage; all characters started with the same plane (the F-8E Crusader, Shin's starting plane in the series). It also eschewed the arcade's linear stage progression with an expanding mission map, the ability to buy other planes (including the Tomcat and Thunderbolt), and moving stages such as supply convoy raids and bomber interceptions. It got an Spiritual Successor in the shape of Carrier Airwing, when Capcom lost the rights of the manga along the way.
In 1995, Family Soft released the Area 88: Etranger 1995 video game in Japan. Players players can select from multiple pilots, including Saki, Shin, Mickey, Greg, Hoover, Sela, and others.
Area 88 contains examples of:
- Battleship Raid: The final boss of the arcade version is a huge battleship, fought in a way somewhat similar to the Cerberus from Thunder Force III. On a smaller scale, there's the naval battleship Minks and that land carrier in the desert.
- Composite Character: The intro screen of American arcade version states that Greg trained NATO pilots back in Europe. This was not part of Greg's background in the manga, but it was part of Hoover's background.
- Flunky Boss: The SNES version has the cave boss, a strange machine on the ceiling with a weak spot on the bottom. Trouble is, it has a lot of flamethrowers and homing missile launchers traveling along the conveyor belts below, all of which will fire at you. It's definitely That One Boss for many players.
- The Desert Carrier and Jungle Fortress launch fighters until the elevators are destroyed.
- Forced Level-Grinding: The game is rare shmup example; your chances of making it all the way through are highly dependent on how soon you can store up a million dollars for the F200 Efreet, so be prepared to kill a lot of convoys (the only infinite source of money).
- Harder Than Hard: "Gamer" difficulty in the SNES version, only accessible through a code.
- Homing Projectile: Phoenix missiles for the player, launched two at a time, and certain enemy missiles.
- Horizontal Scrolling Shooter
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Your weapon armaments in the arcade version get pretty hilarious, especially if you're used to the SNES port. One stage lets you buy a pack of 140 missiles, and the final stage allows you to buy a pack of 200 Super Shells.
- Infinity +1 Sword: The F200 in the SNES port. The most expensive aircraft, it can use any special weapon and gets more shots of them. Oh, and its main gun can be powered up to level seven, while almost every other plane is capped at level five.
- Just Plane Wrong: In the SNES port the F-111 can carry the Phoenix missile, which the F-111 (primarily a ground-attack plane, the Phoenix being a dedicated long-range air-to-air missile) never carried. Strangely, the Phoenix is not available on the F-14, the only aircraft to ever utilize the missile in Real Life.
- Life Meter: The arcade version has a more traditional life meter. In the SNES version, taking damage will lower your life, but not before shortly putting you into "DANGER" mode in which taking a second hit during that time will destroy you instantly. If your life drops too low, you will permanently remain in DANGER mode until you die, clear the stage, or restore your life.
- Last Chance Hit Point: On the SNES version if you don't have enough life to take the hit it will put you into permanent DANGER mode instead of killing you instantly.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Defeating the final boss causes the entire enemy base to start exploding, followed by the player-character having to Outrun the Fireball in the final cutscene.
- Market-Based Title: The games, originally simply called Area 88, were renamed to U.N. Squadron for some unknown reason. It couldn't exactly be licensing issues, as the names of the characters were kept.
- Nintendo Hard: You only get one life per credit in the arcade version.
- Precision H Strike: One of the post-stage quotes in the arcade version is "Go to Hell!"
- Not the Intended Use: Bombs can be used to destroy the annoying AV-8 Harrier enemy which enters from the left edge of the screen and cannot be attacked normally until it starts flying into the middle of the screen.
- Recursive Ammo: The nuclear missile submarine Seavet launches missiles that release smaller projectiles when shot down. If not shot down, they detonate off-screen and the projectiles rain down across most of the screen.
VandalismDeforestation: Destroying all of the destructible trees in the forest stage yields a shield powerup.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: Try beating the SNES port using only the default plane.
- Smart Bomb: The Mega Crush in the SNES port. Most ships can only carry one of it, except for the F200, which can carry two.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The SNES version of the video game gives Mickey's surname as Scymon.
- Spread Shot: The Bullup weapon throws out a lot of missiles, and the Thunder Laser is a three-way Lightning Gun
- Spiritual Sequel: Carrier Air Wing, which had similar graphics, gameplay and missions.
- Sub System Damage: A number of bosses have weapons that can be disabled by shooting them.
- Units Not to Scale: Boss and Mini-Boss planes are at least a good two or three times their normal size.
- Video-Game Lives: You start with 3 in the SNES version.
- Every 10,000 Points: Reaching certain score intervals in the SNES version nets you extra lives!
- Vulnerable Convoy: A source of easy money in the SNES version.
- Wolfpack Boss: The mission to take down the enemy Wolfpack mercenary squadron has three F-117s as the boss. They have an annoying tendency to sneak up behind you.