1942 (1985)

1942_cover 1942_gp

A vertically scrolling shoot’em up with a world war 2 theme (specifically the pacific area of the war). It has an unusual high number of levels for a shmup (around thirty or so), but the downside is that it lacks considerable variety. Each level you see the same types of enemies (small attack planes, a few big-sized planes) and similar attack patterns. The background is mostly water, though in some levels you also fly over land, which due to the color scheme makes it hard to see incoming bullets (either intentional or a design error).

Difficulty is pretty moderate and only rises slowly over the course of the levels, though finishing the game is hardly easy due to its length and it basically comes down to attrition and small errors that chip away your few lives. In some of the later levels the number of small attack planes on the screen and their numerous bullets makes it sometimes difficult to get through, but it’s all doable with enough concentration. Every ten levels you get a boss fight, which again is another plane (mega-sized) that attacks with waves of bullets.

Even for a NES-game the overall art looks plain and unambitious and the levels feels all kind of same-y. Even the ending is pretty low key, it’s just another level after you’ve beaten the third or fourth boss fight (who looks and fights exactly like all the other bosses) and then it’s over.

Despite the lack of variety and overall design ambition, I kind of enjoyed the game. The simple gameplay made it easy to just get started and the sameness sort of induced a trance-like state where despite all the things going on on the screens everything seemed calm and relaxing. Few action-driven games manage that.