Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘1942

Podcast: What the Shmup

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One of the oldest and most popular genres in gaming is the “shoot-em-up” or “shmup” for short.  Whether you’re a space ship, a young girl, or even a winged pod the basic goal is to navigate the screen, rack up points, and don’t die.  Fred and Jam dive into the origins of the shmup, the sub-genres that exist, and some of their personal favorites.


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19XX Series (Capcom)

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I figured we would start of this Shmuppreciation month right with one of the first examples of a true shoot ’em up: Capcom’s 19xx series.  It’s a bit funny that I even reference it as such, because to the best most gamers are only aware of the first two titles and they are quite similar: 1942 and 1943: Battle of Midway.  The lesser known three titles are 1941: Counter Attack, 1944, and 19xx.  There are, however, many different iterations of each so we will discuss the premise, differences in versions and significance to the series.  Over the years I have come to realize that shmups make for pretty poor screen shots; it can be nearly impossible to discern what’s going on in most stills so this year I will be providing gameplay video.  While it’s ideal for all video to be shot by me from my own consoles/arcades, it’s a lot of work so I will try to capture my own video when I can.

Capcom is definitely no stranger to the arcade scene, but before they generated monster hits with Final Fight and Street Fighter II, they managed some strong success with 1942 in 1984.  Set in the Pacific front of World War II, it was pretty interesting to see that this title had you flying a “Super Ace” to destroy the Japanese air force and attack Tokyo.  You would think that a World War II title out of Japan wouldn’t focus so much on some of the rougher international relations with the United States, but regardless of that fact 1942 not only came out but was a runaway hit in both regions.  Known best for the distinctive twin booms of the plane, which closely resemble the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter plane the Super Ace was clearly designed after, and the ability to perform a loop-the-loop that made you temporarily invisible.  1942 introduced the vertically scrolling shooter, gun power-ups and small assisting planes, all significant staples to shmups moving forward.  While it wasn’t the first Capcom arcade to get a sequel, it was definitely the most popular.  As such, this title has been ported to several systems including the NES/Famicom, MSX, PC-8801, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, C64, Gameboy Color, Playstation 2/Xbox/PSP (in a Capcom collection), and even a recent revival on PC/PSN/XBLA as 1942: Joint Strike.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Review: 1942 (NES)

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What Are You Supposed To Do?

As far as shooters go, this is as simple as it gets.  You need to navigate your plane and shoot down all other planes.  You are given 3 lives and can collect power-ups for your guns as well as assistant planes.  In a pinch, the A button can be pressed to make you temporarily invulnerable.  You have 32 missions, each one the goal is to go from beginning to end without dying.

Review

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 25, 2012 at 11:07 am

Posted in NES, Reviews

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Review: 1943: Battle of Midway (NES)

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What Are You Supposed To Do?

This is one of the earliest versions of the vertical shoot-em-up where enemies approach from the top and sides of the screen and attack the player, who is usually located at the bottom.  Your goal is to shoot the planes out of the sky, avoid being shot yourself and prevent your energy from depleting completely.

Review

As a follow-up to 1942, 1943: Battle of Midway places you in the pacific theatre of World War II during the battles at Midway Atoll.  I always felt that this was the more popular of the two titles, but in most cases the arcade version was ported and re-released whereas the NES version is a bit different.  For starters you get to tweak and improve your stats, allowing you to improve your plane and abilities in future levels.  There are also more diverse enemies and bosses that weren’t present in the arcade and I personally feel the levels are longer, although I can’t confirm that.  At first it may be difficult to figure out why you fail a mission in 1943 and you will fail missions time and time again because the game is of the hardest shooters on the platform.  You not only need to keep up with the planes and bullets, but also your energy meter in the lower right corner – if it depletes, you crash.  All kinds of things deplete your energy from what I can tell: it naturally drops with time, every time you get shot and every time you use a charged attack.  Like all titles of this genre, power-ups will drop from certain enemies that can restore your energy, give you a new weapon or increase your number of special attacks.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 24, 2012 at 11:37 am