1942 (GBC)

Prediction

1942 for the Game Boy Color is a fairly standard port of the vertical scrolling shooter arcade game of the same name. Set in the Pacific Theater of World War II, you play an America pilot attempting to reach Tokyo and destroy Japan’s Air Fleet. It’s a rather odd concept coming from a Japanese company, but it was made with a western audience in mind and ended up being very successful.

Obviously, a vertical shooter isn’t going to have very much to talk about. The number of enemies and their flight patterns will gradually get more complicated until it becomes too much, and I die. So, this review is also going to be split with just some random chatting from me. I hope you’ll join me anyway, so let’s go!

Gameplay

1942 was one of the games I grew up on. Originally, I played it on the NES, but that was at my uncle’s house, so I was happy when I saw the Game Boy Color port of the game. Personally, I prefer the GBC version over the NES because it does have a few additions to the game. First, it has actual options that allow you to change the difficulty settings. More importantly, it actually has a password save system, which is quite an oddity for what is basically an arcade game.

You might notice, the game starts on Stage 32. This is because we’re actually counting down as we get closer to Tokyo. I think this is a nice twist on the usual Stage system, because it takes away any guess work over how many stages you have left. So, with that, we take off from our aircraft carrier and head off to war.

The gameplay is quite simple and should be familiar to anyone that has ever played a vertical shooter. You move around the screen trying to shoot down the enemies before they shoot down you. You also have a limited number of specials, which in this game causes you to do a loop to avoid damage. I also want to note that no matter how many times I play this game, I ALWAYS forget which button does which, and ALWAYS end up wasting a loop at the start of the game.

For anyone that has ever played some of the modern Bullet Hell style shooters, this game will probably seem laughable. There are never very many enemies on screen, they rarely shoot more than once, and they mostly die to a single hit. There are some larger planes that show up occasionally, and they do take a few more hits before they explode, but not many hits, and they don’t come very often.

Like most shooters, there are a few power-ups we can get. In order to get them, you’ll have to shoot down the groups of red planes that occasionally fly by. Once you shoot down all the planes the power-up POW is left behind by the final plane. There’s really only 2 power-ups to get, one changes your 2 guns into 4 guns, while the other adds 2 smaller planes to each side of you to add even more firepower.

Really, the only other thing of note in each level is to avoid riding the bottom edge of the screen, because sometimes planes will come up from behind without any warning. If you’re too close to the edge, you’ll probably get taken out instantly before you even see them. Avoid those traps, take down the enemy planes, and before long you’ll manage to land on the next aircraft carrier, completing the stage.

So, from here, each level gets slightly harder. There are more enemies on screen, they sometimes fly more complicated patterns, and might even shoot at you. But otherwise, each level is basically the same as the last. Shoot a bunch of planes, make it to the next aircraft carrier.

Before I get into my random ramblings, we’re almost at Christmas and the end of yet another year. I hope everyone managed to stay happy and healthy this year. Healthy especially, considering Covid isn’t exactly going away. But I don’t want to dwell on that here, just wanted to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to those who don’t celebrate it, and Happy New Year to everyone.

Note: on the left is a power-up to gain an extra loop, which is dropped by a normal looking plane. On the Right, note you can lose the side planes individually if they get hit.

Anyway, you might have noticed I haven’t posted much recently. Not a huge shock from this site. I just want to say it wasn’t entirely my fault. I made that post earlier in the year saying I wanted to get back into writing more often, and I meant that. Unfortunately, my job got in the way and stole any free time I had for a while.

Not to get into too much detail, but management decided to move to a new software, so our entire customer database had to be migrated over. Because of the workflow for this process, it wasn’t really possible to split the work up, and I ended up doing the whole thing myself. From mid-July until late September, I was working 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day. I don’t intend to complain, because the overtime pay was great, but needless to say, it didn’t leave me much time or energy to really do anything other than work.

It took me a while to recover after that. My first day off afterwards I was basically in shock and didn’t know what to do with myself. I had been working for something like 80 days straight and kind of forgot what it was I did on days I didn’t wake up and go to work.

Back to the game for a second, because we’ve finally come to our first password. These show up every 4 stages and let you start your game from that point. They don’t save any score or extra lives or anything, it’s just a checkpoint.

I still remember when I first got this game. Between the passwords and the continues after a game over, I managed to beat the whole game within 24 hours. My parents got mad a bit because they felt it was a waste of money if I could finish the whole thing that quickly, but I didn’t see it that way. I knew what the game was, I was happy to have actually beaten it, and I played it semi regularly after that.

Death Count: 2

In fact, I still do play it occasional. Whenever I want just a few minutes of arcade fun, this is one of a handful of games I turn to. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hardly a groundbreaking game. But it’s still fun in its simplicity. Oh, and we finally have our first death on Stage 26. Lasted longer than usual this time. Of course, I end up dying in nearly the exact same spot 2 seconds later, but whatever.

Stage 26 is also special because it gives us our first “Boss Battle”. For some reason, we’re not allowed to have our helper planes for this battle, since they ditch us just before the fight. However, they’re not really needed anyway. The enemy plane is quite big, taking up most of the screen, but it is taken out with only a handful of shots.

Death Count: 3

So back to my ramblings. It took me a little while to recover from all that overtime, and honestly, I just haven’t been playing as many games lately. For the most part, I’ve swapped over to manga and anime for the last couple of months.

Death Count: 4

Nothing really unusual. Reading One Piece and My Hero Academia, even though I’ve already watched both animes. I’m also finally watching Dragon Ball Z. I saw maybe 80% of it when it was airing on Toonami, but never in order. So even though it’s 50% power up screaming, I still feel I need to watch it properly. I’m also watching the old Lupin the 3rd anime, which is still fun today.

Death Count: 5

That said, it’s always in the back of my mind that I should be writing more articles. Not that I have a huge fan base on here or anything, it’s always been more for myself anyway. But I do want to play more classic games. I also really need to finish Final Fantasy VII. I know my articles are only about halfway through the game, but my gameplay is right up until the final boss. Maybe another hour and I will have FINALLY beaten the game a second time in my life, after having started and quit about 30 times.

Death Count: 7

Well, I finally got a game over on Stage 23, so how about we end it here. Not quite 30 minutes of gameplay, but I don’t have much more I wanted to talk about right now. So, if you’ve stayed with me through this, thank you for letting me ramble for a little while. Hopefully this will get me back in the writing mindset and I’ll see you again soon.

Verdict

Price – $78.47

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! This thing is going for $78 now?! Glad I held onto it all these years. Hell, I even have the cardboard box and manual, I could probably get over $100 if I wanted to sell it. The NES version is still cheap, at only $14.64, so maybe look at that one if you want to buy a copy for yourself.

Play Again? – Occasionally

I’ve already said this is one of my go-to games when I want to kill a few minutes. There are obviously better shooters out there, but this one is fun in its simplicity, and holds some special nostalgia for me.

Total Deaths – 7 deaths

I’m actually kind of surprised I lasted as long as I did. Even without it being a Bullet Hell, I’ve very out of practice for shooters. That said, I did manage to beat it as a kid, so it’s not particularly difficult in general.

Fun Rating – 6 / 10

I’m giving it a fairly low score because, while I enjoy it, I’m not blind to the fact there isn’t anything particularly special about it. I do also have to point out the music in the game, if it can even be called music. There are a few little jingles at the beginnings of the stages, but during most of the level all you get are random beeps that aren’t much better than Space Invader noises. There’s definitely a melody it’s TRYING to keep, but I have a hard time calling those sounds “Music”. Other than that, it’s a fairly standard shooter. The Game Boy Color port does add some improvements in the form of that password save. However, I can’t really claim that is worth the $78.47 price tag is seems to have now. Seriously, I can’t get over that, I was expecting it to be a $5 bargain bin game by now. So yeah, if you want to play this game, maybe look for the NES version. But if you’re willing to shell out that much for the GBC version, you’ll be happy with the few additions it offers.

How are you $78 now?!

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