Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Game 4: 1942

Oh wow do I really get to play a good game this time? I mean, c'mon, it's 1942, classic Capcom arcade game. In the one or two times I played the arcade version, it seemed simple-as-pie. It should be a breeze to dutifully recreate on the Game Boy, especially considering the original was released in 1984. This is a no-brainer.

Except...it looks like the damnable Digital Eclipse had their fingers in this game as well. If you remember, they were part of the disaster that was 102 Dalmatians, and I've never really had a fondness for their Xbox 360 arcade ports at all. In fact, they're usually pretty terrible.

But it doesn't matter because we have to soldier on. It's a dirty job, playing all of the Game Boy games alphabetically, but somebody has to do it. Otherwise, how will we have categorical knowledge of one person's opinion on every Game Boy game? Exactly, we wouldn't, and where would we be then? The dark ages, that's where. Or when. Yes.

Anyway, 1942 in the arcades is a neat game about flying an airplane in World War II. It's an iconic sort of game for your vertical shooter types, and most bullet-hell shooters can probably trace their ancestry straight back to 1942. It's the first game that I know of that didn't show all the enemies on screen all the time, unlike Space Invaders or Galaga. It feels a lot more like a progression through a physical space than Galaga's "sitting still and shooting dudes who hate you." 

But, enough talk, let's play!

Apparently there's a 2 player mode, both for people with or without a link cable, so that's nice. I stick with one player because real tough people go it alone. I don't need your help, I'm a commando with a heart of gold and a gun of gold and bullets of gold and fists of gold and
Oh thank God a screenshot to end this meaningless rambling
The game starts out with a cutscene of my badass plane doing a back flip off of an aircraft carrier. Turns out I can do flips too! But I only get three per stage. I guess that's because the pilot starts to get dizzy and maybe even pukes in the cockpit after three flips. What a pansy.

I also fire bullets at a fairly quick rate. This is not the kind of game where I have to waaaaiiiit until my shot hits a baddy before firing again. No I just mash and mash and mash the B button. It's working out pretty well so far, and I'm destroying the dubious kamikaze pilots very easily.
Until I explode
Yep, I got a bit careless and was smashed into by one of the many dive-bombing jerks trying to sacrifice their life to destroy me. That's okay, I'll do better next time I'm sure - no wait I died in like five seconds. Okay, third time's a charm or so they say, there's no way I'll lose all my lives on the first -

Alright, so this game looks super easy. Little planes fly out, you shoot them down. But the plane I fly is fairly slow and the enemy planes are fast little buggers. I keep trying to maneuver around and end up flying sideways into a plane. Rather than die repeatedly on the first level, I check the options to see if there are any difficulty settings.
Ah yes, much better. Normal mode is for suckers.
While we're in this menu, let's talk about the music real quick. There are cute little ditties on the title, between levels, and when I die. But when I'm actually playing the game, instead of music there is this awful beeping. It sounds sort of like morse code except there's no rhyme or rhythm to it, just a bunch of monotone beeps occuring almost at random. Just...why? It's super irritating. I'm not sure if the arcade version had music or not but either way this is just a poor decision.

Anyway, I start the first level again on Easy, prepared with new skills and much lower volume. I didn't notice this on the first run, but I apparently start on Stage 32
It's like Star Wars. It's even set in the past!
At first I assume that this is a glitch or a typo or something. What kind of game starts on such an obviously high level?

Regardless, this run is going much better. I don't know exactly what changed between Easy and Normal but I'm shooting down planes like nobody's business. I still haven't figured out the exact usage of the roll, but I assume it's to dodge bullets and enemies. Whatever, that's boring, I'll just shoot them down in a fiery blaze instead. I also pick up a powerup that turns my little two-bullet stream into a four-bullet firestorm. It's pretty badass.
I think I actually started making plane noises with my mouth
at this point. I can't be certain.
Yeah! This game is going DOWN. I'm definitely gonna finish it this time. I beat stage 32, which goes to stage 31. Very clever, it's a count-down! I get all the way to stage 28 without losing a single life or using a roll. The points keep rolling in. I briefly consider building a pool so that I can swim around in my points like an arcadey Scrooge McDuck. Then - 
Hey, rad, a password! I wonder if I my emulator will work with the printer
- I freeze the game trying to print my password. I'm not sure what I was thinking, clearly the emulator I am using on my PSP is not going to be able to use a printer that I don't even have, but I wasn't expecting it to freeze like that. 

Ugh, there go all my points and everything. This sucks. Well, at least I have the password I guess...

I start over from stage 28 with 0 points. I feel like Scrooge McDuck during the great depression, diving face first into the concrete at the bottom of my empty money-pool. I also forget to change the difficulty back to easy. I do pretty good for a while until -
Take that, ground!
- I die 3 times in a row. 

I think that'll do it for this run. I've wasted enough of my government's money crashing planes into other planes for no good reason. I'm surprised they let me go this long honestly, considering that my longest flight was about 10 minutes.

Still, this is quite a good game! (Except for the music, which I am blaming Digital Eclipse for.) It has the feeling of being hand-designed, as if every enemy plane is made specifically to challenge me. For instance, the planes that come from behind show up for the first time right near the end of Level 30. There's only one of them and it's on the far left side. Later, they start showing up with more frequency and closer to the center. It's like they were warning me about it and giving me a chance to prepare. 

Similarly, the waves of planes feel like they've been designed to let me shoot down every single one...if I didn't suck horribly. I feel like there's a certain rhythm that, with enough memorization, would let me hit everything. If this is true then this game must have seen tons of testing before being released. These things don't happen by accident in my experience.

Also these extra planes are friggin' rad
Still, I'm terrible at it. For something that looks so simple - go left and right and shoot folks - it's much harder than I thought it would be. I guess that's the beauty of the older arcade games. Simple mechanics leading to high - but fair - difficulty. I think if I'd been born about 10 years earlier this game would have taken tons of my money.

Anyway...uh...that's about it I guess. I could end this with an anecdote or some other strong ending, but instead I think I will do this.

Orange plane flyin' around
Orange plane looks like a clown
Orange plane gettin' shot down
Orange plane, you hit the ground!

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