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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