Tuesday 10 March 2015

1943: The Battle of Midway (NES review)

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Released: 1988

1943: The Battle of Midway is a vertically scrolling shoot-em-up that was ported to the NES one year after the Arcade original. 

Unlike the previous game called 1942 (NES, 1985) Capcom developed this in-house instead of relying on the questionable talent at Micronics. As a result the production values and gameplay have dramatically improved; for example, if you manage to shoot all the red planes in a formation a 'POW' icon will appear which gives you more energy. However, if you keep shooting it will change to a special weapon icon such as multiple direction shots. This adds real strategy to the game as you'll need to think about whether to get some life, pick up a special weapon or top up your existing one as they only last for a limited amount of time. By finding a hidden entrance you can also power-up your ship and choose to upgrade your offensive / defensive power, energy level, special weapon and its time limit. If you hold down the B button you'll be able to fire a powerful charge shot which is vital to progressing past some of the ships that fire masses of bullets in your direction. What this does mean though is that you can't really use a rapid fire controller unless you're willing to lose the charge shot ability. The gameplay feels a little bit faster than 1942 and it's also way more difficult; personally, I found it to be too brutal as enemy bullets frequently litter the screen, especially when your plane swoops down to battle the armed ships. Also, it seems ridiculous to criticise an NES game for being too long but each level takes ages to complete and there are 29 of them - couple this with the lack of variety and it feels more like a hard slog than anything else.

1943: The Battle of Midway is well thought-out with tons more strategy and depth than most other NES shooters. It's by no means a bad game but I just wish Capcom would have included a difficulty setting and added some more variety to break up the monotonous action.

Random trivia: If you're looking to play the original Arcade version of 1943: The Battle of Midway it was ported to the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in 2013.

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