Review by Saikyo Ki

Reviewed: 10/28/01 | Updated: 10/28/01

Even for an early SHMUP, this could have been better, but if you can stick it out until stage three, you'll have fun.

It sure was interesting playing one of the forefathers of top down SHMUPs (SHoot eM UPs). Even though there are some flaws, 1942 still has all the basic elements and aspects of what a SHMUP should be like and set a good standard for all other SHMUP developers. If you can actually find a working 1942 cabinet in your local arcade, it's well worth playing at least once or twice.

Story: 1
I'm sure Capcom only gave it a story so they could say it had a story, although back then noone realized people would almost never play SHMUPs for the story. So yeah, you're in WWII.

Gameplay: 7
Fly around and blast other airborne enemies of varying sizes and shapes. Their color usually tells you something about how they fight. Grey planes tend to be either kamikaze attackers trying to fly right into you or hit and run attackers. Green ones stay on screen longer and shoot more. Huge planes fly in front of you and send bullets out the rear end of the plane at you.

No SHMUP would be complete without powerups. Sadly, you have to progress through a couple of stages to get the really good ones. You get powerups by shooting fleets of red planes that fly in fancy formations on screen. You have to be quick; if one flies away, no powerup for you. In stage one, the only powerup you can get ahold of is one that strengthens your fire. If you collect a second powerup, your strength doesn't increase further. Bleh. In stage two, you can either get that powerup or a powerup that kills all enemies on screen when you pick it up. Stage three finally lets you get a powerup that is standard in many SHMUPs that came after this one. That powerup is the addition of small planes that fly beside you and shoot when you shoot. When I got this powerup it reminded me of playing Tokio as a kid. I guess this is where they got that powerup idea. Neat.

So, does this SHMUP have a last resort super weapon? No, but there is a last resort feature if you find that you can't get out of the way of a barrage of bullets. In each stage, you can do three loop de loops. While you are doing a loop de loop, you are invincible and can reposition yourself on screen during the loop de loop so that when you finish, you will be out of danger. Sometimes, this isn't as easy as it sounds; you might finish the loop de loop and already have to execute another one! Also, if you have any assistant planes flying beside you, they won't be able to loop de loop with you, although they will still fly next to where you will finish loop de looping. They will be vulnerable until you come back down.

Graphics: 8
Not bad. The screen scrolls smoothly and there is decent animation for a game of its time. For instance, when you shoot down a large plane, you see it descend as it crashes into the water. There is also good animation when you yourself get blown up, hehe. The planes had mediocre, but adequate detail. Flying over water isn't anything special to look at, but once you reach land things look pretty good; nice detail.

Sound/Music: 2
The audio of this game is majorly flawed. Some of the sound effects are decent, like sounds of shooting, explosions and powerup acquisition, but some of the others, like the sound of a large plane flying onto the screen, aren't very pleasing to the ear (the large plane almost sounds like it's farting). Ugh, the music is even worse. The only songs that sound okay are the short songs that play when you finish a level or die. The song that plays during gameplay is downright horrible. ONE high pitched note accompanied by noise channel percussion. It's sounds like they composed it in 29 seconds. Very unpleasant.

Control: 8
Fine for the most part, but there are two qualms I have. First, the game doesn't let you fly backwards so your plane is touching the bottom of the screen. Sometimes you might misjudge how far back you can go and you may lose a life because you thought you had enough room to dodge a bullet/plane but really didn't. Second, the loop de loop button seems to have a small delay. You have to anticipate being unable to dodge something before you realize it. Sometimes you may waste a loop de loop because you were wrong.

Replay Value: 2
It's a long game (32 stages), so you might not want to play it again if you actually beat it, but you might want to try playing through without dying so you can have all of the powerups equipped at once.

Bottom Line?
A decent SHMUP. It may not have all the bells and whistles of more modern SHMUPs like Ajax, but it's one of the games that all SHMUPs must pay homage to, since it sets a good standard for what a SHMUP should be like (except for the music, heh). Taking a trip down SHMUP Memory Lane by playing 1942 isn't a bad idea at all, which is why I give it a 6.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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