1942: Joint Strike Review
Player(s): 1-2 (local or online)
Extra Support: Online Co-op play, Leaderboards
First introduced in our year of 1984, the 1940 series is one of Capcom's oldest series. The series began with 1942 then stretched forward with 1943, 1943 Kai and 1941. Developed by Backbone Entertainment, 1942: Joint Strike is a blend of the older 1940 shooter games with new HD graphics. The game plays out more similarly to 1943 (and 1943 Kai) rather than the faster-paced 1941 and it manages to bring in ideas from the other 1940 games along with some newer gameplay elements.
From the beginning, much like WOTB: Commando 3, the player can choose to control a character (or in this case plane) with different stats ranging from life, speed and the amount of special attacks that each plane can hold. Much like WOTB, life is usually the main factor of concern for a beginning player. Like the other 1940 series games, the actual gameplay still retains the classic feel of a vertical scrolling shooter.
As usual, players start with the dual shot. Power-ups can still be obtained from shooting all red-colored planes in a group. Instead of having to shoot the power-ups, they now float in place and change from one of three types based on time. The main three power-ups consist of the usual 3-way spread shot from 1943, the 4 shot spread from the original 1942, and the dual lasers from 1943 Kai. All of these have infinite shots as long as the plane is not destroyed. There are also some rare power-ups that offer a limit to shots fired (the shell weapon from 1943 and the automatic dual shot from 1943). The power-ups in Joint Strike never do quite equal to the screen-filling amount of firepower that your plane could obtain in many of the past 1940 games, especially when compared to 1941.
The usual bomb attack from the past games has returned as well, allowing players to nuke the entire screen or greatly damage all areas of a boss. There is now a homing missile attack that can be performed by charging a gauge to the side of your bomb list. The gauge charges based on how many enemies are destroyed. The missiles are best saved for boss fights. Sadly, the gauge cannot be charged by damaging a boss.
1942 is showcased with 3-D rendered environments and objects, which makes the destruction from many big enemy planes or battleships very eye pleasing along with the animation used for each explosion. Battleships split in the middle or rear and sink after enough damage has been taken and big planes fall to the ground and explode. Bosses have been given a great enhancement from the past 1940 games. The bosses all feel truly unique and none of them are carbon copies of each other.
Joint Strike can really get chaotic with the amount of bullets that will appear on the screen at one time, especially during boss fights. Even on the easiest difficulty, the overwhelming amount of bullets on the screen can sometimes get the best of just about any player. Thankfully, all enemy bullets can be destroyed by releasing a bomb attack. It sure would have been nice to have the loop action from the previous games to help out on the constant spray of enemy gunfire during boss fights though.
To help the player out with the overwhelming firepower, Joint Strike still incorporates a life bar for each plane allowing for them to be able to sustain a certain amount of firepower based on its beginning stats. Life pickups are rather rare and you'll have the choice between a partial life pickup and a bomb pickup whenever they appear. Life can also be instantly refilled all the way by collecting the Yashichi item - being a hardcore Capcom fan, I was hit with a sense of nostalgia upon first seeing the inclusion of this old-school Capcom item that appeared often in many of Capcom's earlier games.