1941 - CAPCOM

1941 Counter Attack


Reviewed by Malc

Let's get all this sorted before we start. 1942 was Capcom's first version, then came 1943, a reworking as 1943 Kai, and finally 1941. Each one added extra bolt-ons and ever increasing amounts of sprites onscreen, with bigger and better baddies. 1941 is the final instalment (disregarding the arcade 19XX which I hadn't seen at the time of writing this!).

The PC Engine SuperGraphx hosted a perfect version of 1941, but as you may or may not know, trying to play it on MagicEngine is slightly difficult - no sprites! It's only now, with Callus coming to our rescue, that we can play it properly. I remember playing 1942 on my old Commie64 aeons ago, and I loved it then. Swirling fighters, looming bombers, and bullets a-flying... and things haven't changed since. Some people might wish for super effects and CD-music, but this old-school shmup epitomises what a shooter stood for: plain old blasting fun, where skill alone dictates progress and the rewards are hard-won.

This reminds me of a thought I had a while ago. I was wondering why we play games nowadays. Back in the days of the prehistoric machines, I played a game because of the immediate pleasure I got from beating the machine, getting the highest score in the arcade, and the sheer exhilaration of the joystick-pumping dexterity required to win.

It's not often I see games like this today: what are the rewards now? To see the graphics on the next level, and to watch out for the next amazing special effect and set-piece? Waiting 60 seconds for the next level of 'action' that requires the manual handy because there're too many controls to remember!! Are we playing demos or games? Personally, give me Scramble before Wing-Commander, and Mario (NES) before Pandemonium.

I don't need a plot, FMV or cutting edge 3D multi-aliased-transparent-mip-bip-blapping, and a team of fifty people working on one game - all this extra clutter gets in the way of the flow of a good game, stifles any raw enjoyment that might be left in there. That's not to say modern games are all pish: Doom got it right, Quake (imho) didn't. Ridge Racer was ace, Need for Speed was mince. Mario 64 is unbeatable; Gex2, Rascal, Croc, Jersey Devil all missed the point. Neither Doom, Ridge nor Mario 64 needs a complex plot, or hours of Hollywood 'film' - you pick em up, you play em, and you have fun. They are GAMES in the true sense, not one of these entertainment-multimedia-showcase titles. What do you think - am I talking bollocks or sense here...

Oops. Got distracted. 1941 eh? Smart wee game, give it a blast!

Level one and hordes of tiny fighters molest you.

Looking like your own ship, except scaled up a bit, this twin-fuselaged bomber takes a beating. Only problem I have here is the fact that it has no wings, yet is undeniably flying quite ably.

During the second level you discover you can scrape along the walls and the plane spins around spitting bullets every angle - fabulous idea!

I'm not sure about you, but I don't think they had rockets like this back in 1941. Shall we allow them a little creative freedom?

This spitting fire attack is a standard boss attack in 1941. Reminds me somewhat of lighting farts. Not that I ever did that of course. But I've read about it somewhere in a book.

See, look, there's another one doing it. Stupid eejit just blasted a hole in its tailplane by doing it too.

Daddy, what did you do in the war? Well, son, I drove a huge rail based tank that was at least 200 feet wide and had huge laser turrets.

... And then I got promoted to flying a giant steel spaceship with extendible wings, lasers and old fashioned propellers.

But of course son, we had stealth bombers in 1941. Not like your cheap plastic imitation ones of today, oh no, these were solid iron and could materialise in and out of thin air. (Don't ever let Ms Capcom teach your kids history.)

No no no, thank YOU! It was a real pleasure, I'm sure. It's a bit of a shock this screen, after phalanxes of drab aeroplanes and muddy backgrounds.


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie