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1942: Joint Strike Reviewed by John Xavier on . Capcom's newest 2D shooter may be a lot of fun, but it's also extremely short. If you're the type of person that loves a good challenge and can't get enough of this old school type of shooter, then you should definitely check out Capcom's newest game. Everybody else should probably just pick up Bionic Commando instead! Rating: 64%
1942: Joint Strike
1942: Joint Strike 1942: Joint Strike 1942: Joint Strike 1942: Joint Strike
  • Review Score:

  • B-
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but some of the innovations made in 1942: Joint Strike prove that even now, decades later, you can find new life in an age old genre. 1942: Joint Strike is a top down shooter based on the Capcom pedigree of the same name. The 194X series, at its core, is a game wherein two players take control of World War II-era planes and go to town on their opposition. To this effect, the game succeeds in being a fun, albeit an entirely too short romp through five levels. Fortunately, despite the short length, several factors can increase the re-playability for those who are willing to pursue such things.

This particular review is written on the PlayStation 3 incarnation of the game, and thusly all the matchmaking was provided by the Playstation Network. The netcode is fine once in game, but actually getting a game running can take a few tries. Aside from this, no other bugs were encountered.

1942 - Joint Strike (XBLA)

Starting the game, the player or players is given the choice of three planes to choose from. One is balanced, while the other two either lean more towards health or speed, in both cases sacrificing an abundance of one stat for a deficit of the other. Surprisingly, this statistical difference is portrayed very well in game, with the faster plane (Shinden) being incredibly fast, but taking only three to five hits to kill, and the higher health (Mosquito) being notoriously hard to shoot down. This variety is refreshing and, although sometimes annoying having your plane of choice chosen by your buddy, the option to play as the balanced plane (Lightning) is a decent alternative.

Along with the variety in the planes actually making a substantial difference, the differing weapons, while not particularly innovative, do provide sufficient when shooting down droves of enemy air and ground units. Again, fairly standard, but the game offers you a diagonal spread fire, a concentrated laser, and a weapon that fires straight forward with multiple projectiles (essentially an upgraded version of your standard weapon) and all of these can be upgraded, typically increasing firing speed as well as projectile amount and damage. One thing worth noting is that because of the weapon design your flanks are often very vulnerable. While not particularly life threatening, it can pose hazardous in the later stages and higher difficulties as the enemies are quite plentiful.

1942 - Joint Strike (XBLA)

As far as the level design goes, it's about what you would expect from a top down shooter with a few twists thrown in. The first of these occurs at the end of the first stage as you are forced to fly into the screen, in an attempt to outrun your pursuer. It's interesting if nothing else, and a bit disorienting if you aren't ready for it when it happens. Graphically, the levels are pretty enough. While you fight above, the lower plane typically houses some arbitrary action as the battle rages on below you. It does a good job of keeping the levels looking alive without becoming too intrusive.

Enemy design is standard fare for the genre, including essentially reusing a single boss multiple times. The enemy AI is designed to the same pattern-centric mindset that has built this genre, and it shows. Thankfully, this is mostly absolved by the game's unique scoring mechanics (the closer you are to an enemy, the more points you get when it dies) and team based attacks, which, when used correctly can create a very fun and hectic experience.

1942 - Joint Strike (XBLA)

Essentially, while you aren't playing alone you have a special attack gauge that builds as you down enemies. As it builds you can fire it off, keeping a decent stack of them for later use. This special attack is chosen at the beginning of the game, and it's only in multiplayer that it really shines. When you and your buddy take to the skies, the special attack, or titular "Joint Strike" allows you to attack between your two planes. Either a lightning coil, stream of bullets or even just a large bomb can be produced and, depending on the distance between the two planes, this attack will do a scaling amount of damage/cover a larger blast radius. This mechanic is well used, as, since your flanks are typically vulnerable, you and your wingmen can stand to make a mistake once and a while, or even set up a larger blast that takes out multiple enemies (the bomb type, when stretched fully, essentially emulates the actual bombs you have to clear the screen).

While I've been quite positive, there are a few kinks in the game taken as a whole. First, the game is short. Multiple difficulties help soften the blow, but this game can be completed in under an hour. Second, the difficulty can be inconsistent. While this is only preference, I found the first two stages harder than the final three. To be fair however, the difficulty is consistent with the difficulty level chosen at the beginning, though it is worth noting that the hardest difficulty level is quite hard and a worthy homage to those that came before it in the genre as a result.

Overall, 1942: Joint Strike is a fun game for an evening, or if you're a fan of the shoot-em-up genre. While it may be lacking in content (missing even short cutscenes to set up the levels), it does have a unique scoring mechanic as well as the fun implementation of team based attacks. It might not be keep you busy for the summer, but with a buddy it can prove to provide a fun evening.
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