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1942: Joint Strike Review

1942: Joint Strike pack shot
Genre:Arcade Shooter
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://games.capcomdigital.com/1942/
Release Date:July 23rd, 2008
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
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I love arcade games. When I was first discovering the delights of a Saturday afternoon and a pocket full of 20p pieces I often found myself playing the same games over and over, just trying to get my score to the top of the leader board.

The one game that seemed to steal a lot of my cash was the original '1942,' a vertical scrolling WW2 shooter with shiny graphics and fast paced gameplay, it had me hooked for hours.

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Now, many years later, the venerable old game is making a comeback on Xbox Live Arcade, but it's not a direct port of the original, this is 1942 with knobs on.

The basic premise of the game remains the same; you and a friend take control of two fighter aircraft and attempt to blast your way through a horde of enemies in order to win the war for the good guys. The game can be played both offline and online, but don't expect many gamers to be playing it on Xbox live- it took me a fair while to find one.

The three aircraft you have to choose from: Mosquito, Lightning and the oddly shaped 'Shinden' are pretty much the same bag, with the only difference between them being the aesthetics and the wingspan.

As well as the usual upgradeable weaponry (one shot- three shot- spread shot- laser- multi laser) the game has thrown in powerful 'joint strike' weapons, and these make what is really a bog standard scrolling shooter a little trickier.

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There are three of the amped-up weapons available- chain lightning, a huge bomb or a powerful charge shot, and a press of the B button unleashes the attack. For example, if you've chosen the chain lightning weapon, a line of lightning connects the two planes and by flying around the screen creatively you can wipe everything out as the enemies cross the line.

As well as the new weapons, the graphics of the game have also received a major overhaul. They appear slightly cartoonier than in the original, but that is not necessarily a bad thing considering the content of the game. The top-down view is nicely rendered, and from the viewpoint of the two aircraft the ground below your plane is interesting enough but not too distracting.

The menu screens have had a similar overhaul, featuring stylised graphics and a stirring WW2 theme that gets the blood flowing.

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The main addition, graphically, is the widescreen mode- giving your planes more room to move, but also allowing enemies more room to fire their guns, it's a delicate balance that adds to the drama of the battle.

The enemies are all pretty predictable, droves of small planes fly in squadrons, tanks fire as they trundle across the ground and the massive boss battles at the end of every level are a real challenge, even with the joint strike weapons.

However, no matter how good the game is (and how much the nostalgia factor has an impact) it is let down by two major flaws- It's too short, and it's too expensive.

The game clocks in at just under an hour to complete, and comprises only five levels, vastly inferior to other XBLA games of its ilk. And, at a hefty 800 Microsoft points, it's hardly worth the money when there are so many more lengthy games to invest in for the same price.


This is one to grab if you're a die-hard 1942 fan or if you have a spare 800 points to spend, but if you're looking for something with a bit of depth, look elsewhere.

The bottom line
5.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Good, old fashioned fun
  • Nice graphics
  • New weapons add a welcome twist

Not so good stuff

  • Too short
  • Expensive
  • Not many online players

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