World War II is a popular setting in video games from the beginning. In 1986, Capcom developed and published “1942” for the Nintendo Entertainment System putting the player into a plane during… you guessed it 1942 over the Pacific Ocean. Would this early vertical shooter impress me or should it have perished in the war?
The gist of the mission for 1942 is to kill all the Japanese and take down their air force which is bizarre since it was Japanese programmers at Capcom that made this game. Imagine programming a game where the object is to kill your own people? Strange, but Capcom thought it would sell. Anyway, here’s the text on the back of the box.
“1942… you and daring fighter pilot “Super Ace” are engaged in realistic, thrilling, and challenging high-flying battles with the enemy. Over land, on the sea and in the air, your own skill and dexterity… combined with Super Ace’s flying mastery, duel enemy pilots in fighter and bomber craft.
1942… it’s airplanes taking off and landing on ocean-going aircraft carriers… disrupting enemy air warriors you must defeat by blasting ’em out of the sky.”
They sure know how to hype a game up… rolls eyes
This game is trash, and if you like it then you have terrible taste in video games. If you even want to play this boring and repetitive flying garbage then you better play it on mute. Every two seconds whenever you shoot you’ll hear a high-pitched screech that makes your ears bleed. Seriously how does it get through testing and everyone gives a thumbs up to the sound effects.
So the sound is terrible but how are the graphics? Not great. The planes have very little detail and they are the same four planes through all 32 levels. That’s the only impressive thing about 1942 is the length of it as it takes you about an hour to beat which is extremely long for a shooter in the 1980s. Unfortunately, all 32 levels are almost identical. You’ll take off from a carrier and then take on waves of enemy planes that have no rhyme or reason for their direction. Sometimes, they’ll shoot at you, sometimes they’ll just take up space and fly around like it’s happy hour in the sky.
You’ll get one power-up throughout the entire game that will add some bullets to your stream but other than that don’t think that you’re getting any shields or speed. What you have at the beginning of the game is what you’ll have throughout the game. You can do a maneuver that will dip your plane below the action and come back if you see a ton of bullets coming your way but you can only do that two or three times. You’ll get a twin pair of small fighter planes to cruise in the sky with you about once every four levels but they last about five seconds before being blown out of the sky. Seriously, I got the little helpers and within a half-second, they were hit by another plane. By the miracle that you get through the level with both intact and you face a boss, the twins magically disappear after the fight. You can’t even use them against boss fights!
Speaking of boss fights, boy do they get exciting in 1942. You’ll face the same oversized green plane every seven levels who shoots a few bullets from the back of the plane. You can easily avoid the bullets and take out his wings in ten seconds. Was there no creativity in Capcom back then? Why would you face the same five planes through 32 levels and then face the same boss every seven? So boring!
You want more boring? The environment is the same throughout all 32 levels. You’ll fly over the ocean for 80 percent of the level with brief periods of green land, sand, and a few dotted areas. How exciting! There’s no cut scenes or even an introduction before the game starts. Even the text suffers in translation. At the end of the game, all I got was a quick “Congratulation” and a stat of “Shooting Down – 6,184” which is what I assume was how many planes I destroyed through the terrible experience. I can’t believe I spent my Saturday night playing this game for an hour and killing 6,184 Japanese. In reality, they were the lucky ones.
Is there anything I like about this game? Well, I said the length of it was impressive but with very little power-ups, repetitive enemies, environments, and bosses, there’s very little to praise even when this was an early NES title. I’ve played some bad shooters and this was the worst one so far.
I’ve tried to play this game on a few different occasions. I just could never get past the terrible sound effects and repetitive enemies. I finally forced myself to play this game as my wife and I watched the Yankees and Red Sox on television during that weird Covid season. Thankfully I had the baseball game to distract me from how terrible 1942 was.
1942 suffers from so many issues including repetitive enemies, bosses, environments, and lack of excitement in the form of power-ups. By far the worst thing about 1942 is the sound effects that screech every second that you shoot which is all the time since this is a shooter! Even worse is that this fiery garbage game is really long! It has 32 levels of the same crap so you better mute the tv if you plan on playing. I don’t recommend this game at all, even if you wanted to see how bad it is, there are other bad games that offer more entertainment than 1942.
1942 scores a 4.2 out of 10.
Do you remember when 1942 first came out? Did you immediately turn your tv on mute? Were you able to beat the game and ignore the terrible repetitive enemies as you made your way through it? Do you like this game, if so you better explain! Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.
If you’d like to own a copy of 1942, you can purchase a used copy of it for the NES from eBay for $15.