1942 Series : Banzai!! Climb into your Super-charged P38
and take on the enemy in their multitude in the air, on land,
and at sea with Capcom's 1942 shooter series..

One of their most famous franchises in the early days, there's not a great deal to be said about these games content-wise (er.. kill lots and lots of enemy aircraft.. that's about it!) but their arcade incarnations were certainly a lot of fun, and I'm still very fond of the original 1942 even after all these years. Special mention has to go to the soundtrack and jingles in the first game, they drove you barmy while playing but you would end up humming the damn things to yourself for days afterwards..
Another 1942 fan Bodhisattva has kindly allowed me to include his vivid recollections of playing the original 1942 : ' Fond Memories of 1942...' here. His attraction to the game in the early days seem very similar to my own.. as he explains in his piece. Bodhisattva also cites Konami's Gyruss and Time Pilot among his other favourite all-time games.. I have to agree, all three games were highly influential in getting me involved in shoot-em-ups in the early days. Good taste that man!

1942 / 1943 / 1941 / 19XX


Basically a vertically-scrolling update of the Galaga-style of shooter with a WWII setting, 1942 was a huge success for Capcom on its release in arcades. I liked it a lot at the time, as I could last quite a while on just one credit, until things started to get just a tad too difficult for me around half-way through the game! It was also rather long with 32 stages to battle through before reaching Tokyo, your final objective. There were many home versions on various systems - some good, some downright awful - but the arcade version remains the best and you can play it nowadays in MAME or with Capcom's 'Generations 1' collection for PSX/Saturn which also includes 1943.

Now take a peek at Bodhisattvas Fond Memories of 1942..!

It always struck me as a little odd that a
Japanese producer like Capcom would make
a game in which you play a crack
US fighter pilot and shoot down
loads of Japanese enemy aircraft..

Oh well.. it's just a game eh kids? ;)

The best bit of 1942 was when you
nabbed a power-up and gained these
handy little escort fighters..


Your plane was able to do little 'loops'
out of harms way which was useful..
here we have just 30 stages left to go..!!

If you are on your way to blitz Tokyo
then where the heck is that enemy
bomber supposed to be heading?!



1943: Heads Up!.. more aeronautical
cannon-fodder stands in your path..

Three years later came 1943, which is basically more of the same, with a few tweaks and tucks to graphics and gameplay. The main differences were the inclusion of a 'life-bar' as opposed to the 'one hit = death' policy of its prequel, more enemy plane sprites on screen and more destructive firepower, simultaneous 2-player action and bosses at the end of each stage. You also had a new 'smart-bomb' weapon along with the now familiar 'loops' to help you out. Unfortunately the game was a little disappointing, the classic 'feel' of the original seemed to have been lost in the 3 year gap between the two. Still, it's not a bad game overall.. I never got round to finishing it though.. An alternative version called 1943'Kai' was released soon after, it was pretty much the same game except with a bi-plane theme (bye-bye P38!). You can play both in MAME or the RAGE emulators.

Anyone remember 'Whaam!'.. (the painting..not the pop group!)
.. er this artwork kind of reminds me of it a bit..

Although 1943 added better graphics and
firepower to the mix, as well as proper end of level
bosses (Battleships, Superbombers and the like)
it wasn't as much fun as the original in my
humble opinion..



You'd be surprised how much damage a teeny-tiny plane can do to a big one..

Great graphical design and some cool bosses didn't disguise the fact that 1941 was really just a remake of 1943 with a few new features and weapons.. It also suffered from being easier and a lot shorter than its forebears.


Another three years..another sequel.. Taking advantage of Capcom's new System 1 board, 1941 took the series a step further in terms of visuals with some evocative scrolling backdrops and now HUGE end-of-level bosses. This time around the theatre of operations shifted away from the Pacific, with your fighter plane taking on the might of the Axis forces above Europe. A good solid shoot-em-up with some unlikely but entertaining elements (Laser weapons? Stealth Bombers? gargantuan V3 Missiles?), 1941 is emulated rather
beautifully by Callus (using which I took these screenshots)
and is well worth getting hold of.

This time around you are joined in your USAF P-38 by the Brits
with an RAF buddy in a Mosquito.. Blimey, they took a bit of
time to enter the war eh? Surely Capcom got things a bit
muddled up here.. ;-)

A couple of my favourite bosses from the game, a huge fire-spitting tank and an even huger V3 Rocket, which is nearly 3 screens high..eek!


Next page: Capcom's shooters -
Section Z, Sidearms & Forgotten Worlds.
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