The superbomber boss - a tough nut
unless you happened to be well stocked with
a decent supply of emergency 'loops''.
I attended college in the late 1980's. There
small video arcade in the student union, featuring a
more than a dozen games, including Smash TV,
Cabal, Halley's Comet, Ms.
Pac-Man.... and the Capcom
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
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
number of continues to reach the final screen.
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!