“Uh, player one, can you focus that laser on those pesky red things?”
Backbone Entertainment’s 1942: Joint Strike is an update to
the WWII themed, vertically scrolling shooters that date back to the mid-eighties.
Players control a lone ship that annihilates wave after wave of enemy
squadrons, before combating a boss at the end of every level. Not long ago, we
feared these games would disappear altogether from next-gen consoles.
Fortunately, with the popularity of the Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network,
we are seeing a resurgence of this genre.
Drab is the new bright; 1943, (left, circa 1987), and 1942: Joint Strike (right)
1942: JS uses a front-end menu that is eerily similar to
Capcom’s other recent arcade title, Wolf of The Battlefield: Commando 3. Both
feature an animation-inspired look, with comapible sweeps and screen wipes. Like
WOB: C3, players choose one of three available characters, which differ in
speed and strength. Once players start
the game, they are treated to a sepia colored introduction, complete with film
grain. While the title has an artistic palette that draws heavily from muted
brown, greens, and grays, we miss the bright blue color of the original game’s
background. Explosions, on the other hand, are handled with finesse- watching
rival ships erupt and capsize is a small pleasure.
The game balances risk/reward better that any of its 194X predecessors-
players can increase a bonus multiplier if they shoot enemies in close
proximity to their plane. Eliminating many small enemies quickly will build a Special Attack meter, which can be used for an extra offensive punch. However,
doing this usually means focusing on your adversaries, and away from the
bullets flying dangerously close to the player.
The game pays homage to Crash Bandicoot; In a few seconds this boss will turn around and inexplicably give chase.
We testing online co-op over PSN, and found play to be a relatively
lag-free experience. Purists might be alarmed at the sight of enemies
disappearing by coming near your opponent’s line of fire; it’s assumed Backbone
did this to keep the co-op experience fluid. The three different Joint Attack
options are another great addition to the game; we especially like the electronic
beam that zaps anything between the players.
Videogame Twisted History P. 2: WW2 helicopters shot down over London via lasers.
Our main criticism of 1942: Joint Strike is its length- the
game only offers five levels that can be completed by skilled players in about
thirty minutes. Knowing the lack of depth in the title, Backbone doesn’t give
the player the ability to continue their game. After your two to five ship
reserve is depleted (depending on the chosen difficulty level), players are
sent back to the title screen. We would have rather seen a few more levels,
with an added option to save the game.
As it stands, we can recommend the game to shooter fans; particularly
those looking for a quality cooperative shooter. For ten dollars, 1942: Joint Strike
is a solid title; just don’t expect a bulk of content.For the inevitable 1943 remake, we like to see a greater emphasis on enemy diversity, and less of a focus on pretty, yet non-interactive backgrounds.
Final Grade: B