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Video Game / 1942

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Defeat the IJN while listening to the March of Midway on repeat for about an hour.

The 1942 series is a series of arcade vertical-scrolling Shoot 'Em Ups developed by Capcom, set mainly in World War II. The player is an American "Super Ace" in a P-38 Lightning who spends a surprising amount of time kicking the spit out of the Imperial Japanese Navy for a series made in Japan.

  • 1942 (Arcade, 1984)
  • 1943: The Battle of Midway (Arcade, 1987) Ported to the NES/Famicom in 1988.
  • 1943 Kai (Arcade, 1988): Unreleased in the US, aside from a bootleg titled 1943: The Battle of Midway: Mark II. Ported to the PC-Engine by Naxat Soft in 1991.
  • 1941: Counter Attack (Arcade, 1990)
  • 19XX: The War Against Destiny (Arcade, 1996)
  • 1944: The Loop Master (Arcade, 2000; developed by 8ing / Raizing)
  • 1942 Joint Strike (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, 2009)

Do not confuse with Battlefield 1942, which is a whole different ballgame, the sequel series of television show 1941 (2009), the movie 1941 (1979), Strikers 1945 (despite that also being a shmup series), or (heaven forbid) Nineteen Eighty-Four. Also has nothing to do with the video game company Midway Games.note 

Incredibly, this sole Capcom series has its own wiki.

The 1942 series contains examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The series has weapons that should not have existed in WWII, such as a space shuttle-like rocket boss and Frickin' Laser Beams.
    • 1944 has songs that sound very similar to rock songs that wouldn't exist for another 20-30 years.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: In 1943, the Ayako bombers can only be damaged in their engines, but you can keep shooting the same engines even after they have been set on fire. They are defeated once all their engines go down.
  • Balance, Speed, Strength Trio: Different from past games of the series, in 19XX you can choose between three planes with different skills: Lockheed P-38 Lightning (balance), the series's staple and the most balanced ship of the three; de Havilland Mosquito (strength), returning from 1941 that focuses on firepower; and Kyushu J7W Shinden (speed), a newcomer ship and the most fast and maneuverable ship.
  • Battleship Raid: A lot of the series' bosses are battleships.
  • Bladder of Steel: 1942 has 32 stages, 1943 has 16 stages, and 1944 has 15 stages. If you plan on one-crediting any of these in the arcade, make sure you use the bathroom in advance.
  • Boss Subtitles:
    • In 1943, each stage is preceded by a message saying "Offensive target: [Boss name]. May you fight bravely!"
    • Inverted (sort of) in 1944, where you are shown the subtitles only after you’ve defeated the boss.
  • Cast from Hit Points: How special attacks work in 1943 and 1941.
  • Charged Attack:
    • Every game from the NES/FC port of 1943 onwards lets you charge up a powerful shot by holding down and releasing the shot button.
    • 19XX does this with the Smart Bomb. The effects are, in order of least to most powerful, a screen-clearing carpet bomb, a concentrated radial explosion, and several of the aforementioned radial explosions all over the place.
    • 1944 has a "CHARGE" meter that needs to be filled to full to initiate an Invulnerable Attack. The charge doesn't have to be done in one go; releasing the shot button will simply let the meter slowly decrease instead of disappearing entirely. However, once the attack is used, there is an "OVER HEAT" period during which the meter cannot be charged again.
  • Clip Its Wings: See Attack Its Weak Point above.
  • Cool Train:
    • Two bosses in 19XX are giant trains travelling on two or more sets of train tracks.
    • Kalebert Armor is a slow-moving battle train that was overseeing operations at the heart of Africa.
    • Sancho Pedro is a Super Prototype train that was being developed in a secret factory in Spain. It can fire, among other things, a Wave-Motion Gun at the player.
  • Critical Annoyance: In 1943 and 1941, an alarm goes off whenever your health runs low. The NES port of 1943 is worse: it replaces the current BGM with a Jaws-like tune when your health falls below 20.
  • Cue the Sun: The ending of 19XX.
  • Damage Is Fire: The Ayako bombers show their damage level by how many engines are on fire. Ayako I's engines catch fire in pairs; Ayako II's engines catch fire one at a time for the first two, then the third and fourth together; Ayako III's engines catch fire one at a time.
  • Enemy Mine: Played with in 19XX which has the Japanese-made Shinden, which was never put into real battle at that time due to Japan's surrender in WWII (but one of two examples was dismantled, shipped to the US, and restored), and 1944 in which the second player character brings in a Japanese-made Mitsubishi A6M Zero.
  • Energy Weapon: Some of the enemies happen to use laser weapons, in WW frickin' II, no less!
  • Homing Projectile: Holding down the fire button in 19XX causing your ship to charge up a piercing projectile that destroys weaker enemies in one hit. When it hits a stronger one, it tags it to allow the player to fire homing lasers at it for a short period of time on top of their normal shots.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: In NES 1943, the first special weapon you can get is a Short-Range Shotgun that can cancel enemy bullets, but has a slow firing rate. However, this weapon can be upgraded to a "super" shotgun that not only has longer range, but also fires the basic gun in conjunction with the shotgun, making it one of the best weapons in the game in spite of the low amount of effort needed to get it, whereas similarly powerful weapons require investing into the Special Weapon stat and also require you to shoot special weapon icons many times just to get them.
  • Instant-Win Condition: In 1942, upon completing a stage, all on-screen enemies will explode.
  • Irony: Meta example: In 1942, 1943, and 1944, you're fighting the Japanese military. The company behind this series is Japanese itself. According with Yoshiki Okamoto, who worked in the game, Capcom got into really hot water in Japan for having the Japanese players controlling an American plane and destroying Japanese planes and that was the reason why the NES version, 1941 and 19XX features different kind of enemies, like the Germans in 1941.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • In 1943, most ship bosses will explode into shrapnel when defeated. Better avoid it, especially if you manage to beat the final boss and forget all about the shrapnel...or you can shoot it for extra points.
    • A couple bosses in 19XX will also unleash one last volley of attacks while they're in the middle of exploding.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: 1944 is the only arcade installment to use a horizontally-oriented screen. You're still scrolling vertically, mind you.
  • Life Meter: Varies. In 1943, you get a Life Meter that drains over time (though you can't die of time drain). 1941 offers Hit Points that you lose one of with each hit. 1944's and Joint Strike's are more similar-looking to 1943's, without the time drain.
  • Mid Game Upgrade: Partway through 1944, your Attack Drones, which up to this point have been WWII-era planes, are upgraded to little jet fighters with Frickin' Laser Beams.
  • N+1 Sequel Title: The games after 1942 are numbered 1943 and 1944. Also somewhat inverted as one of the sequels is numbered 1941.
  • Nintendo Hard: Except for 19XX and 1944, which is noticeably easier in an era where Bullet Hell shooters started trending in arcades.
  • No Fair Cheating: The NES adaptation of 1943 uses a five-character Password Save system that encodes not only the stage number, but also your ship's six parameters. The last character in the password doubles as a checksum and also imposes a minimum starting stage based on your total parameters, so you can't just waltz into stage 1 with maxed-out everything.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: 19XX, although the plot is easy enough to understand through the in-game cutscenes.
  • No Swastikas: 1941 pits you against the Germans, yet not a single swastika is in sight.
  • Nuke 'em: In 19XX's final stage, the Recurring Boss escorts a pair of nuclear missiles aimed at Tokyo. Even if you time him out in the final battle, you'll always destroy the nukes in time in the ending cutscene.
  • Oddball in the Series: 1941 is the only game in the series not to feature Imperial Japan in any capacity, being set entirely in Europe instead.
  • One-Man Army: Whatever incarnation of the game, it's you in your one fighter plane against the entire Japanese (or whatever) fleet.
  • Orwellian Retcon: As already mentioned before, the game was pretty controversial in Japan when it was released in arcades, so Capcom had to make some modifications on the NES version of the game, including changing the name of the Japanese battleships using the Japanese names of Chinese warlords from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, with the sole exception of the Ayako bombers, since they're probably named after the music composer of the game, Ayako Mori, note  not to mention the titular Battle of Midway being renamed to The Battle of Valhalla in the Japanese version. Oddly, the American game box still keeps the Battle of Midway subtitle, even if the English version also uses the changed Japanese names.
  • Password Save: The NES version of 1943 gives you a five-character password when you die, which can then be used to pick the game back up from the stage you died in with all of the stats you had at the start of the stage.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The NES version of 1943 is considerably different from the arcade version (whereas the port of 1942 on the same console was a straight attempt to replicate the arcade version on NES/Famicom hardware). It only supports one player, has a stat point system that allows the player to upgrade their ship, and some bosses are added while others are removed. The boss names were also changed from the names of real-world IJN battleships to names based on other sources, in order to quell controversy about the game being anti-Japanese.
  • Prequel: 1941 obviously takes place before 1943, but was released after it.
  • Recurring Boss: In 1941, Leviathan, the Stage 1 boss, makes an upgraded reappearance in Stage 5. In 19XX, there's F. Blacker, the black fighter that destroys your mothership and harasses you on every level. You finally get to settle the score with it in the end.
  • Retraux: Joint Strike's graphics are made to resemble a film from the early 20th century.
  • RPG Elements: The NES port of 1943 allows you to upgrade your plane's stats by touching certain hidden icons. Most specifically, it is a Point Build System.
  • Sequel Escalation: Inverted and played straight at the same time; up to 19XX, each game has fewer levels (1942's 32 stages -> 1943's 16 stages -> 1941's 6 stages), but each newer game has stages that are more varied and have more complex gameplay than "fight waves of enemies in the sky until you reach the next end-of-stage carrier."
  • Shown Their Work: The Japanese versions of 1943 featured accurately modeled (as accurate as a Famicom could, anyway) versions of actual WWII IJN capital ships. A diligent player could recognize many Japanese battleships and carriers, including the Ise, Nagato, Yamato (post refit), Akagi, Hiryu, and several others. On the other hand, the Ayako bombers are completely original-made for the game; they could be inspired by the Mitsubishi Ki-67 ''Hiryu'' heavy bomber, but the Ayako bombers are four-engined, while the Hiryu used only two.
  • Shout-Out: 1943 has some to other Capcom games in its items.
    • Barrel - Pirate Ship Higemaru
    • Strawberry, bamboo shoot, dragonfly - Son Son
    • Mobi-chan - Side Arms
  • Smart Bomb: 1943 and 1941 have special attacks that damage everything on-screen at the expense of health. 19XX and 1944 instead give you bomb items, with the former allowing you to charge up a bomb attack that deals more damage than simply tapping the bomb button. 1942 just has the white POW's, which kill everything on screen when collected.
  • Spent Shells Shower: The Sancho Pedro of 19XX uses this with a twist after he fires out his machinegun in his second form... He fires out the shells forward towards you, making you have to avoid (or just shoot) them!
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler:
  • Updated Re-release: 1943 Kai was this to the original 1943. It made the enemies harder, changed the boss order around, redid some of the player's weapons (including adding a laser beam weapon), and replaced the player's P-38 with a Boeing-Stearman Model 75 biplane. In US, this version was renamed, with "Mark II" added after the original title.
  • Video-Game Lives: 1942, 19XX, and Joint Strike.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: 19XX has both the fifth boss, Sancho Pedro, and the final form of the Final Boss use this on you. Especially dangerous is the final boss' one, as his spins and sucks the player towards it!
  • Wolf Pack Boss:
    • Some stage bosses in 1943 aren't a single large ship, but an entire fleet of bombers.
    • Boss ships do count too, since you shoot the lower-class ships first.
  • Year X: 19XX.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: In the NES port of 1943, you are congratulated for winning the war after defeating the first 16 or so stages. And then you find out that all those bosses were a diversion from the real army.