Saturday 20 September 2014

1942 (NES review)

Developer: Micronics
Publisher: Capcom
Released: 1985

1942 is a vertically scrolling shooter that was originally released in the Arcades in December 1984.

The game consists of 32 stages and your task is to reach Tokyo and destroy the Japanese air fleet. To do this you have to take down wave after wave of enemy planes and use your reflexes to dodge incoming fire. You can perform a barrel roll by pressing the A button (which comes in handy for when you find yourself surrounded) and you fire your plane by tapping the B button. I’d definitely recommend using the NES Max controller for rapid-fire – otherwise you’ll have to keep taking breaks to get your finger strength back! The stages are just the right length and your plane is very responsive to control. There’s also a few power-ups to use including extra side-planes and screen exploding bombs. However, that’s where the positives end. There isn't a great range of enemies and I found the stage design to be dull and repetitive. You’ll occasionally take part in a boss fight but it involves seeing the same sprite every time with no variation in attack patterns. There’s also the occasional slowdown and times when enemy planes blur into the same coloured backgrounds. Minimal effort has been put into the music and the only thing you’ll hear is the same short jingle before you start each stage. Also, who on earth decided that it’s a good idea to have a non-stop beeping sound while you’re trying to play – it’s really distracting! Compared to the rock-hard C64 port, this NES version is a breeze. Very rarely did I struggle to avoid incoming fire and I never felt any of the intensity that the genre is known for. While I don’t believe that a game has to be challenging to be fun, it must have characteristics that make it enjoyable or memorable; unfortunately 1942 is devoid of these and it’s just a bland shooter that you’ll probably play on autopilot while thinking about what to have for dinner. Even the final level is surprisingly easy and it’s really not worth completing the game as all you get is a shooting percentage score and a ‘Congratulation‘ (sic) message.

1942 is a lackluster port of Capcom’s arcade hit. I’d recommend avoiding this and skipping straight to it’s sequel (1943: The Battle of Midway) as it presents the player with more of a challenge and has greater depth and better gameplay mechanics.

Random trivia: 1942′s success in the arcade led to a number of ports including versions for the Amstrad CPC and Game Boy Color. However, it also featured in the Capcom Classics Collection on the PS2 and Xbox (2005) as well as the Wii Virtual Console (2010).

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