Review by Lilica

"Nostalgia"

Welcome to the most boring review ever written.

If tiresome personal stories or dry overanalysis arouse intense feelings of disdain in your heart, turn away! Those of you with any hopes for entertainment, perish the thought of reading my 1942 review and head for the nearest Soul Calibur cabinet post-haste!

I offer these warnings because my story, like so many ill-conceived personal narratives that have come before, begins in the greasy confines of that most cherished childhood paradise: the gaudy pizza palace. The soothing fragrance of spicy pepperoni permeates fond memories of Samurai Shodown and Fatal Fury; at my first glance of Haohmaru's beveled blade and Andy's flowing locks, I found my life's true calling as a fighting game kunoichi. Before that destined day, I perceived the arcade as a cesspool awash with cooties. I trained my intolerant eyes only towards Skee-Ball, earning strings of cherry red tickets longer than even the most diabolical naga's serpentine neck. On that breezy summer day when I abandoned the redemption ticket finger puppets and accepted Terry into my heart, my perception of the world changed.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord Geese omnipotent reigneth!

That's the bright side of gaming. My review today is concerned with the dark side as exemplified by the torturously dull shooting game 1942. Confined to the cobwebbed corner alongside Capcom's far superior Ghosts 'n Goblins, 1942 can be reviewed in 42 words:

Players endure 32 mundane levels in 1942, each with the same land-pocked watery blue background, shooting the same formations of the same enemies in every level. The solitary perk is “loop”, a dodge technique that was outclassed by Defender's screen-wiping smart bomb.

Any further discussion is just as extraneous as 1942's final 25 levels. Small orange planes. Small gray planes and medium gray planes. Small green planes, medium green planes, large green planes and enormous green boss planes . . . all cast against a plain background of plain blue water or unpopulated green plains. 32 times.

It should now be reasonably apparent that the game lacks variety. A few powerup icons are intended to offset the samey-samey gameplay but fail miserably, instead reinforcing the futility of progressing beyond the seventh level. One icon doubles firepower from twin shots to four; another adds two wingmen, again increasing the number of shots by two. Don't be fooled, they're a placebo! These upgrades don't enhance your biplane's power; opposing aircraft only explode after being hit by a predetermined number of rounds, regardless of whether each round consists of two simultaneous shells or six.

To destroy a medium-sized green plane:
At minimum power, four rounds of two slugs = 8 bullets needed
At medium power, four rounds of four slugs = 16 bullets needed
At full power, four rounds of six slugs = 24 bullets needed

The only advantage to the additional bullets is an increase in girth. This advantage applies most prominently to the wingmen but, like your own craft, they're vulnerable to enemy firepower. It feels very much like Galaga (but without that classic's intriguing ability to repatriate abducted wingmen). The Galaga sensation is further enhanced by the circular swirling nature of the Japanese planes' movements; without the drab scrolling background underneath, 1942 could easily be mistaken for the third episode in Namco's classic series.

Thank Geese that Galaga didn't have such painfully piercing music.

Whether by happenstance or influence, 1942 constantly reminds me of better shooters. Each stage opens with a rickety biplane launching from an aircraft carrier, reminiscent of the venerable and somewhat enjoyable Twin Cobra. 1942's aircraft carrier is emblazoned by the number “88”, two digits that usher indulgent memories of Area 88 from the darkened aisles of my twisted psyche. The wingtip support planes powerup was stolen by Psikyo and put to better use in Strikers 1945, a game that proves vintage aircraft aren't out of place in high-quality modern shooters. Capcom's logo on the title screen brings to mind Legendary Wings, which demonstrated an otherworldly creative spark that 1942's sputtering engine can't hope to keep up with.

In short, it's aged really badly.

1942 occupies the uncomfortable interstice between classic and modern, serving better as a museum piece than as an entertaining diversion. It plays most similarly to the archaic Galaga but its presentation style draws obvious and unfavorable comparisons to the likes of Strikers and Gunbird. Like the Showbiz pizza palace where I first encountered it, 1942 has become an abandoned relic of the past.


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 12/13/04


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