Fond Memories of 1942


By Capcom Arcade 1984


The superbomber boss - a tough nut to crack..
unless you happened to be well stocked with
a decent supply of emergency 'loops''

I attended college in the late 1980's. There was a
small video arcade in the student union, featuring a little
more than a dozen games, including Smash TV, Cabal, Halley's Comet, Ms. Pac-Man.... and the Capcom
shooter 1942.

This was a difficult period in my gaming life, my fellow shooterholics....since I did not have any video game consoles, nor a PC of my own, if I wanted to play a video game I had to go to an arcade, or steal some time on one
of the black-and-white Macs in the computer labs (say what you will - they played a mean game of RISK). So I spent a
fair amount of time in this tiny, cramped corner on campus, blasting enemies and avoiding my studies.

1942 was not a daily habit, but I would become feverishly engrossed with the game whenever I played. It literally made me sweat. It must have been the tension of the challenge. Much like Eugene Jarvis said of his Robotron game, I felt
like I was always a moment away from death. But unlike Robotron, I could actually make some progress in this game.... provided that I had enough quarters in my pocket. Thank goodness that the game permitted continues.

I can't describe exactly why I was drawn to 1942. It was not the graphics, which did the job but did not amaze. It was not the looping manoeuvre, which was a necessary escape valve, but not the main draw. It had the be something related to the assorted attack formations and patterns, the variety of small, medium, and large enemies, the challenge stages, the rewards for a high shooting percentage, the power ups, the occasional bonus plane zipping northward along the margin of the screen.... in other words, the gameplay. What a well-designed, well-crafted game.... the whole thing just fit together nicely, and gave the player a real run for his money.

The big screen-filling plane that appears about 8 levels into the game was a critical turning point for me. It threw so many damn bullets at my plane.... I had to conserve my looping power for the occasion, but that alone was not enough. I had to honestly develop the skill of evading a big spray of bullets. Most of my success came after applying the tactics of drawing the shots to a far wing of the screen, and weaving my way to the other side just as the bullets came out.... and doing this again and again and again, without being hit. Talk about pressure....

One of the highlights of my gaming "career" is a performance that I turned in on this arcade version of 1942. Starting at level 32 (if I recall correctly -- I might check this on MAME later) and counting downwards, I once made it all the way to level 4 on a single quarter. Without the aid of pharmaceuticals, I might add. Don't ask me how I did it -- I imagine that luck played a role, as well as an uncharacteristically high degree of composure on my part.

In any event, when I crashed out at level 4, I was too close
to turn back. I had to continue to the bitter end. My
concentration was horribly broken, though, so it took me a
number of continues to reach the final screen. Fortunately,
my funding lasted long enough to witness the conclusion,
complete with a ridiculously high bonus (which I celebrated loudly) and some congratulatory phrases clumsily translated from Japanese into English (which I also celebrated, out of sheer relief and exhaustion).

If a game is meant to challenge, thrill, disturb, and obsess a player, then 1942 did the job for me as well as any other game I've played, at least for a while. To borrow of phrase from Peter Murphy, it most certainly cut me up and spit me out. And what greater joy is there for shooter fiends such as us?


Thanks Bodhisattva! This brings back memories of that very nasty boss plane that almost always used to bring my game to an end by peppering my plane with bullets.. Oh how I hated it! Still a great and playable game though, hard to believe it's 15 years old. No other vertically scrolling shooter seemed to capture that simplistic but beautiful Galaga-esque swirling formation style, save perhaps Vulgus and Terra Cresta, quite like this game. Funny how you remember the games that you played when you were a student eh? For me it was Saint Dragon, P-47 Freedom Fighter, Silkworm, Smash TV and Capcom's Mercs and Three Wonders that used to suck up all my beer money in the student union arcade..
Ah, happy days!

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