Wednesday, July 23, 2008

1942 Joint Strike Impressions

Its 19-420: Strike up a Joint!

Those were my first thoughts when during a late night session of Geometry Wars the words "1942 Joint Strike Downloaded" popped onto the screen at exactly 4:20am. I had about 400,000 points and I hadnt died yet, so it was looking to be an excellent run. I immediately hit the big X in the middle of my controller, proceeeded to the dashboard, purchased the full game, and began my first play. About an hour later, the credits were rolling, and I had 3rd place on the overall leaderbords (granted the game had only been out an hour).

So let it be said this is an easier and shorter 194X game than any of us have ever played, at least on the default 2 stars difficulty. The game has a look and feel similar to the new Commando game on XBLA, and if its similar in how the difficulties ramp up, the highest difficulty level of 4 stars should provide a true challenege to any hardcore, old school arcade shoot-em-up fan.

In terms of enemy spawns, bullet patterns, and boss battles, 1942 Joint Strike easily tops many other XBLA arcade shooters including its half-brother game WOTB Commando. If WOTB Commando is a 7+/10, this game is easily an 8+. I havent tried any of the coop options, but Im sure just like with WOTB they will add a great deal of replay value to the title.

There are only 5 missions and they last roughly 10 minutes each, culminating in a boss battle with a giant battleship, plane or tank. Once the boss is defeated the player is given a ranking for how quickly he defeated the boss, and the total score for the level is calculated. To get a high score, you need to not only defeat the boss quickly but also pass through the level getting as many score multipliers as possible. The multipliers are attained by shooting down enemy planes as close to yours as possible; if you hit them from across the screen, there is no multiplier, if you hit them with a point blank shot you receive a 16X multiplier which adds up quickly. There is also one bonus scoring stage which occurs after stage 1, where the player has no weapons and must dodge enemy plane formations while collecting as many bonus medals as possible - the stage lasts about 2 minutes and is quite fun.

Overall I sure cant help but wish for a more meaty experience from 1942 Joint Strike. Its very similar to the experience I had with WOTB Commando. Whats there is really quite good, but there just isnt quite enough total content to satisfy shooter junkies who can plow through the game in under an hour. If you've played any of the previous 194X games, the default difficulty wont faze you but the brevity might. Hopefully this game will be enough of a commercial success on XBLA that Capcom can start working on a more fully fleshed out sequel as soon as possible.

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