1942. Capcom (1984) Arcade

I have fond memories of this game, it was probably the first game I ever played -certainly first I remember- and after my parents watched me mesmerised sinking 10p after 10p into the arcade machine in the pub they used to run, they eventually decided to buy me a NES, as it would save them money in the long run.

On a side note, as a child I can remember making it to Tokyo but never beating it.

So the big question is how does my 1942 shape up nowadays?

Gameplay

1942 is a vertical shooter set in the Pacific Theatre in World War II.

You are a crack pilot tasked with flying through 32 intense levels of hot shooty action with the aim of destroying the entire Japanese fleet by shooting everything that moves on route to Tokyo.

hot shooty action!

To aide you in this you gain power-ups by killing the groups of red planes. The power-ups either give you better weapons, tag-a-long buddies that increase your fire power, or destroy everything on screen. When you die you lose the power ups and have to rely on your own incompetence to get you through all the pain and suffering of war.

To top this off, you get to perform 3 barrel rolls per life, these will help you to dodge incoming bullets or the kamikaze enemies, and potentially save your life. However, you have to make sure you don’t hit an enemy as you return to your regular position which will happen a lot unless you’re good.

“Amazingly” the planes are actually based on real planes. With Wikipedia reliably informing me that you fly a Lockheed P38 Lightning. While admittedly my knowledge of warplanes is ZERO, but if that kinda lark is your bag you should check out Defence of the Realm blog, but it means the planes add a nice realism to the super-unrealistic-one-man-murdering-the-entire-Japanese-Fleet-action.

hella hard

Music

Holy fucking hell the music is bad. Basically you get rhythmic whistling. Not tuneful whistling, but drunken oaf who brought a whistle to a nightclub whistling. If you’ve ever had to experience such a day-glo vest wearing douchebag whistling tunelessly in your ear then you’ll appreciate my PTSD flashbacks when hearing this god awful din of a soundtrack. To make it worse, the sample is around 10 seconds long and is infinitely looped.

Seriously, fuck that bastard noise! Please dear god listen to it!!! just for the lolz…

That’s a big fucking plane!

Guff

The importance of 1942 is hard to comprehend, but it was the first breakout hit for Capcom so without it we wouldn’t have everything they did right, before they became Crapcom.

Photo realistic image of a Japanese city

Conclusion

As vertical shooters go, 1942 is perfectly adequate. It is stupidly hard, and the only way to beat it is to put £193 worth of 10ps in. I can get to level 8 on 1 credit, which is pretty good, but I don’t have the patience or access to 1000 10p pieces to actually attempt to beat the game and the Virtual Console versions don’t always register the extra credits for continues.

You will have a little fun playing it, and the broader scope (level variety) and strategy (powerups and dodges) means that 1942 is better than early peers such as Space Invaders.

However, something like Space Harrier is much better.

Pros: looks good, controls well, planes look decent

Cons: Music

60%

Back in the day:

Reviews are difficult to find, but 1942 would later be ported to almost everything Capcom could put it on, and is frequently included in any Capcom Arcade collections.

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10 thoughts on “1942. Capcom (1984) Arcade

  1. 1942 is a decent game, it’s hard as hell but decent, though the sequels do a much better job and have some of the more memorable music. Don’t you find it ironic that Capcom, a Japanese company made a game series where you’re a US pilot gunning down Japanese soldiers. If that ain’t an apology I don’t know what is.

    • I always thought of it as Capcom being really canny knowing they’d break a wider audiencr by not having spaceships and octupi.

      I’ve never played the sequels, it is odd. In fact, i’m not sure if ive even seen the sequels. The music certainly can’t be as bad!

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