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1942 — 2Q2019

Pacific battles fly in 8-bit formation

by Brandon Beatty

Capcom’s warfighting 1940 series reminds me of the good times when arcade gaming ruled my weekends and I was fortunate to find some rare gems that later became gaming classics. During that time, I played 1942 in the arcade and on the NES and walked away from this experience with some valuable information: 1. The first game in a series may or may not guarantee future success; and, 2. The creators of some of our favorite games had to cut their teeth on low-tier games before they received the big breaks that made them what they are today. One of those games is 1942.

1942 is a vertical-scrolling shooter that takes place on the Pacific front of World War II. You take control of a P-38 Lightning plane assigned to go to Tokyo and destroy the Imperial Air Force fleet.

Gameplay of 1942 is simple: You can move either vertically or horizontally. Consisting of 32 stages, the P-38 will be challenged by Ki-61s, A6M Zeros, and Ki-48s with a long-range bomber known as G8N as level bosses. To give the P-38 Lightning a fighting chance against these planes, it can do air rolls or vertical loops. If you time your attacks right, some planes will drop upgraded firepower or an escort team of two smaller fighter planes to combat the relentless assault from planes that WILL attempt to knock you out of the skies, especially if you’re just taking off from your aircraft carrier.

While I liked 1942, there are some issues that annoyed me. Timing of movements, including the vertical drops and air rolls, must be precise because of the high chance of being shot down by enemy planes. Also, you must watch for attacking planes in front and behind as the Ki-48s are masterful at getting the unsuspected into close-area shootouts, which will reduce the number of lives quickly.

The music quality of 1942 is an acquired taste as the repeated use of a snare drum made me think that Capcom phoned in a lackluster drum beat, which made me turn the volume down to continue playing. The challenge is decent since you will be on your toes to avoid enemy fire nonstop. It has strong replay value and would be a great time-killer as a nostalgia trip for arcade veterans. Also, it’s a great example for those who want to know how side-scrolling games played a major impact in the gaming world.

1942 serves not only as an icon in gaming’s hall of fame but also doubles as one of Capcom’s entries into the gaming world. It helps that 1942 was the start of looking at Capcom as an up-and-coming game company wanting to expand beyond its home of Osaka, Japan.

Fun facts about 1942

  • The P-38, Ki-61, A6M and Ki-48 were actual war planes used heavily in the Pacific Conflict between the U.S. and Japan. The companies who built them — Lockheed Martin, Kawasaki, and Mitsubishi — are well-established in the defense industry and continue to play vital roles in various areas of aerospace technology.
  • 1942 was Yoshiki Okamoto’s debut game for Capcom. He was also the original game designer of Konami’s Gyruss. Because of internal disputes involving pay, he was fired from Konami. After 1942’s success, Okamoto remained at Capcom where he played an important role in producing Final Fight, Street Fighter II and Biohazard/Resident Evil. He retired from game development for consoles in 2012 and is currently developing games for various mobile devices.

GI-Brandon Beatty

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