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1942: Joint Strike


Review: 1942: Joint Strike (Xbox Live Arcade)
Capcom has seen the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and inside are classic arcade style games that everyone might want to play for numerous reasons. The most recent release that Capcom is hoping to cash in on thanks to the ‘nostalgia sells’ mindset, is 1942: Joint Strike. I had no idea that this was even being released until I found the opportunity to play it for review, and I even found myself bitten by the nostalgia bug. Overhead shooters that wallpapered the screen at any given time were just too much fun to pass up then, and they’re too much fun to pass up now.

Capcom must feel that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, because there’s not much that’s really different in this reincarnation of the old arcade classic. You can select from one of three airplanes before embarking on your suicide mission. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses between speed, health, and the amount of missiles they’ll carry.

After selecting your weapon of mind-blowing destruction, the first level starts looking like an old World War II film reel. The picture has deteriorated to a nasty looking yellow and you can see the sides of the film reel scrolling. It’s a pretty nice touch that adds to the feel of playing in 1942, while you’re waiting a few seconds for the level to load.

Once it kicks into gear, the concept of the game is simple – Stay alive by shooting everything that moves and never keep your plane glued to one spot of the screen for too long. Everything in the sky as well as the ground, are going to do whatever they can to take you down. You wouldn’t know from playing the game itself, but the description says that the premise is based on you being the only plane that’s holding up the war. You're the last hope for all that's good. If you die, consider the world in shackles and chains. It’s not a very creative story, but I’m sure nobody cares. A game like this doesn’t need an elaborate storyline to be a lot of fun.

This game costs 800 points however, and for about an hour of gameplay through five levels, it’s a tad steep. It’s really the biggest complaint I have, and if that’s not something that will bother you, then have fun tearing it up.


Gameplay:

You’ll have a bit to ‘tear it up’ with. You’ll use the left joystick to move your plane in any direction. The four color buttons (A, B, X, Y) are used to shoot your primary weapon, missiles, and bombs. As you blast things out of the sky, you’ll have the opportunity to collect weapon upgrades that will widen your range of fire, set them up with a spray shot, or even equip you with rockets and lasers. Remember the lasers in World War II?! I totally remember seeing something about the use of lasers on war planes during World War II. It was just on the History Channel a night or two ago!

I know, I’m being picky here. But how many liberties can we take with a game called 1942?

The bombs act as a ‘clear screen’ weapon. Press the Y button and watch everything evaporate as your plane does a nifty cartwheel.

Holding down the X button will charge your primary weapon for a few seconds, until you’re ready to release its mighty blast to inflict massive damage. The controls are simple, and I’m glad Capcom decided not to mess with that aspect of the franchise, either.

It sounds like you have a lot of firepower, and you do. The levels can range from very easy to mind-numbingly difficult. The boss battles on higher difficulty settings can be a pain, even on the first level. Make sure you choose the plane that's going to suit you best for best results. If you’re an expert at dodging the eight bajillion shots that are going to head for your plane at any given moment, you may want to opt for more firepower. If you’re clumsy and are looking for extra health a lot, take the plane with the most health. It's all very straight-forward, so you can concentrate on having fun, and not the mechanics of the game.


Graphics:

The game looks gorgeous. You’ll spend a lot of time over highly detailed terrain and the water looks very realistic. Enjoy the sights of the water, forests, volcanoes, battleships and more. It’s all beautifully designed.

This game, unlike Commando 3 from Capcom’s nostalgia project line, rarely has any frame-rate hiccups. Even when the boss battles present a whole screen full of bullets and a lot of other animations at once, the game keeps running pretty smooth. A lot of care went into making the re-imagined 1942 title looking fresh. Kudos to the developers!


Audio:

As your plane moves from one side of the screen to the other, the sound of your plane and ammunition follows. The game is loud, and proud, and wraps you up in the midst of the action. Games that are made solely for the purpose of shooting and providing mass destruction should have always had this type of sound treatment. If you have a 5.1 surround sound system, you’ll be in for a treat.


Multiplayer:

Multiplayer is a blast with a friend. In addition to choosing one of the three planes, you can also pick from one of three joint attacks. This consists of the bomb, the charge shot, or an electric chain. Each provides a little different effect from the others, but they don’t really add anything amazing to the overall gameplay. In essence, you’re pretty much playing the same game, except you’ll be playing with a friend.

Since you’re battling it out with a friend, the game becomes even shorter to under an hour, so you’re sacrificing some game time for multiplayer havoc. Perhaps another level could have been designed, or another game mode, for additional multiplayer incentive?


Overall:

1942: First Strike is highly entertaining… while it lasts. If the game were to cost ‘less’ for the ‘less’ amount of game we have, it would be an absolute no-brainer. I’d say hands down, buy this game. It is around 800 points however, so I can’t say much else than I would recommend this game. It looks beautiful, sounds terrific, and delivers a lot of bang despite the fact it doesn’t last that long. Playing with a friend online is a ton of fun, and the fun only goes up since you feel like you’re in a high-def time machine.

I’d love to leave this review at ‘what more could you ask for’, but the simple fact of the matter is, the wallop it packs is in too small a package, and doesn’t provide a ton of replay value. There’s minimal achievements to earn, and nothing that’s truly going to stay with you. If you won’t be discouraged by a short game, then this one’s for you!