What was once a genre that dominated the arcades, the vertical/horizontal shooter pushed gamers’ quick reactions and pattern memorisation to the brink only to push them that little bit more in a blaze of bullets and explosions. Today however with almost all arcades closed it seemed this genre was going to die with them only to be kept alive by hardcore shooter fans and anyone looking for a little nostalgia. Xbox Live Arcade has seen quiet a few of these shooters make a return from the undeniably classic Xevious to one of the Dreamcasts’ hardest games Ikaruga. Now Capcom bring us a remake of an arcade classic 1942 entitled 1942: Joint Strike.
The game retails on XBLA for 800 points but is it worth it? Keep reading and find out.
When you first boot the game up you’ll see the menu system which, at first seems rather cool, when you select what you want to do a fleet of silhouette airplanes whizz by the screen in a roar of engine noise which gives a forewarning that this game is going to be ‘loud’ in more than one sense of the word. This however brings up a problem, this sequence of planes flying past isn’t short and it does it every time you select a new menu and the engine roar gets very tedious after a short time.
The two main game play modes consist of simply either offline or online play, offline offering single or co-op play on one TV. Unfortunately I am unable to review the online multiplayer experience for the simple reason, there’s no one online, not a soul. I even tried at different times of the day…nothing, I then thought about making my own match to see if someone would join, I left the lobby screen up for 15 minutes and no one joined. For a game that sports online co-op and as the title suggests ‘Joint Strike’ further enforcing the multiplayer aspect as a core part of the game to have no one playing online kind of makes me feel like I’m not getting my moneys worth out of the game, but that is simply an opinion.
Right anyway since I can’t review the online experience lets move on to offline play and single player mode, when selecting how many players you would like you are also given the option to set the difficulty as listed below:
Slick Sleeve **
Dragon Fly ***
Wing King ****
The ‘star’ rating equals difficulty, one being the easiest and four the hardest. Playing single player on Wing King difficulty is not so much hard in the sense there are more enemies on the screen, which there are, it’s that unlike ‘Penguin’ difficulty where you are given eight lives Wing King difficulty only gives you one with the option to pick up more lives in later in the game if you know which enemies drop them. This difficulty was obviously put there for online play and any ‘normal’ gamer that maybe doesn’t play shooters often will find more than a challenge in the Slick Sleeve difficulty.
Unlike many shooters of the genre you do not fly in a futuristic space craft but instead one of three fighter planes:
Lightning – Firstly the lighting, this plane is a basic all rounder and doesn’t excel in stats anywhere making it a good plane to run through with the first time to get a feel for the game.
Mosquito – The mosquito has more health and power than the lightning making it more durable but it sacrifices speed and power in its secondary attack.
Shinden – The shinden is quick and has a rather powerful secondary attack it does however loose health and power in its primary attack as a result.
These three types offer some strategy in how you can play the game, but ultimately if you’re playing with a friend you both cannot use the same plane so if you prefer the Shinden and your friend chooses it then all the strategy is gone as you’d have to go with a plane that doesn’t fit the way you play the game.