(1942, November 1986, Capcom)
Ever played the classic arcade titles Pirate Ship Higemaru, Sonson, or Vulgus? Ever even fuckin' heard of them? God knows I haven't, but they were the historic inaugural titles of a company that would go on to revolutionize many aspects of the way we play games today. Beloved by gamers worldwide and boasting one of the most loyal fanbases ever, that company is known as Capcom. Today, we journey through their fourth arcade offering released after the nameless wonders above, 1942.
You had to be a MAN to pilot one of these babies!
Set in the Pacific theater of World War II, you play as the creatively named Super Ace, who is apparently the baddest pilot ever to sit in a cockpit as he is sent with zero allies to take out the entire Japanese Air Force en route to Tokyo. Quick question, does anyone out there have a clue why in tarnation it's called a theater? Theaters certainly existed then so what was the connection between a large scale battle and something people were watching Casablanca in? I can't help but get visions of powerful generals eating popcorn and watching warlike shit going down. Anyhoodles, Super Ace, probably named so because no fuckin' way Nintendo was going to promote a game around a famous pilot named Dick Bong (I'm not shitting you, look him up), tears through the skies in a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, which intrestingly enough, was the sole aircraft being produced in the United States during the Second War. 1942 also began the first successful franchise for Capcom, branded the "19xx Series". Now usually, I go into the history of the companies when first reviewing one of their games but Capcom will be delved into later when there is a game with not as much history behind it. Believe me, they deserve their own entry but that's not how we do things 'round these parts.
Well, we can't see his bottom half so perhaps "Commando" is the perfect name?
It would be foolish not to point out that so far, 1942 has the most bizarre manual ever. First off, it has CAPTAIN FUCKING COMMANDO on the cover, looking absolutely nothing like the incarnation we know today. Apparently, Capcom was going for a style akin to the Black Box games as 1942 is the first of the "Captain Commando Challenge Series". If that wasn't strange enough, the guide is 2 pages of game instructions and five pages of those old memo pages Nintendo used to throw into the manuals. What in the wide wide world of sports would you possibly write in those for a game like this? After "Blow shit up without getting blown up", your pages are pretty much spent. I digress.
It can be really easy to lose the enemy planes when things go green.
From the moment you press start, you know exactly what you're in for. Super Ace and his magical P-38 firing infinite rounds from it's majestic machine guns at anything in his way. Ace controls very smoothly and the shooting is great in that your bullets won't go through anything without it's intended result. There are a few power-ups that are obtained by dropping everything you are doing and firing at red planes if they ever pop up on-screen. My personal favorite being the two little baby Super Ace planes that will join the formation and fight alongside you until they take a hit. Now that I dwell on it, the shooting and the side by side ships have a little bit of a Galaga feel to them, which is never a bad thing. There is a special rolling move that I never messed with because it caused more inadvertent death than the time Paris Hilton swam in Galveston and fish started floating inside a 10 mile radius. Even fried shrimp at Joe's Crab Shack was around $79.99 for awhile because of the shortage we all suffered over it. True story.
Somewhere around the end of stage 8, shit gets real.
The graphics, while bright and vibrant, are responsible for some of the earliest cases of flicker. Flicker for you younger cats out there is when shit just starts disappearing from the screen though the game still thinks it's there. In other words, there will be a death or two caused by the dangerous abrasiveness of air until you blow up that is, revealing the out of time Stealth fighter that just caused your demise and a few curse words. As for the sound, well, I'd like to meet the guy who was in charge of audio for this game, tie him to a chair, and force him to listen to me play this game at full blast until his eyes bleed. The very first time in the quest where it became impossible to deal with, therefore the Japanese had to be killed to a few Kyuss records in the background. Surely I could die easier knowing "Green Machine" was my soundtrack on the way down to the icy waters below. However if you're a sickfuck and would like to give it a shot yourself, just have a buddy, spouse, kid, homeless wino, or anyone just whistle as loud and as obnoxiously as can be mustered directly into your ear the duration of your gaming experience. That is the sound of 1942. The good outweigh the bad however and it isn't hard to turn the volume down and pretend that you are given 2 lives at the start than 3, because one is going down no matter how good you are.
If you liked the original, check out the tremendous remake on Xbox, 1942: Joint Strike.
THE FINAL VERDICT
7/10 A timeless classic and one of those games you can pick up and play at anytime without having to invest alot of time and brain power into. Press start and start sending Japanese fighters to hell while dodging and holding onto a little luck. The fast pace is fairly close to the arcade version but the flicker and sound bogged it down just a tad for me. Still, a 7 isn't a 2 or anything so it's worth checking out and loads of fun for you shooter fans.
ALL HAIL DICK BONG!!!