Games

1942: Joint Strike - Arcade Nostalgia in HD

Capcom's 1942: Joint Strike gets the Checkpoints treatment, courtesy of Arun Subramanian.


Publisher: Capcom
Genres: Action
Price: $10.00
Multimedia: 1942: Joint Strike
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3
Number of players: 1-2
ESRB rating: Everyone 10+
Developer: Backbone
US release date: 2008-07-23
Website
Developer website

The 194x series of games were some of the earliest successful vertical scrolling shooters. They were also one of the few examples of the genre not steeped in a sci-fi mythos. 1942: Joint Strike plays like a long lost entry in the series, though it's interesting to note that despite the success of titles like Pacman: Championship Edition and Space Invaders Extreme, Joint Strike plays it comparatively safe. Certainly, what made those reimaginings successful was the way they modernized gameplay concepts while leaving the core mechanics untouched. Joint Strike, on the other hand, is largely content to present itself as a graphical update. This is not inherently bad, particularly considering that scrolling shooters are fairly timeless, and that by and large Joint Strike is presentationally top-notch. Finally, the electronica-inspired aesthetics of Pac Man: CE and Space Invaders Extreme would certainly be out of place in the context of 1942.

While not quite difficult enough to earn the description of a "bullet-hell" shooter, there is more than enough challenge in avoiding enemies and fire. There are three available planes that vary in key statistics, any of which can take more than one standard enemy shot without exploding, but it's probably best to behave as though any shot can take your plane down. The three weapon types are standard, and it's easy to imagine players will have different favorites. The reality is that much of what makes Joint Strike enjoyable is what has always made it so. The widescreen support is welcome, since it gives the game the opportunity to present more enemies, at the same time as it gives the player more room to maneuver. This is especially noticeable in cooperative play.

Although they have very recently undergone something of a renaissance, scrolling shooters have certainly waned in popularity with the demise of the arcade. Along with traditional beat-'em-ups, arcade shooters had the quality of essentially being beatable by anyone willing to continue paying money when they died. Because adding another credit traditionally just topped off your health and lives precisely at the point where you perished, it was generally possible to simply buy your way to the ending. That's not to say skill wasn't rewarded, but the reward had to do with the monetization of that talent as measured by money saved. This is something of a different idea than that of a pinball master getting endless replays or a fighting game wizard taking on the competition for hours on a single quarter, in that those game situations don't really have discrete endings.

In their transition to home consoles, then, with no money leaving the pockets of the player once the game has been purchased, many shooters have instituted much more stringent life and continue policies. Certainly, in the arcade, there is more money to be made by allowing less skilled players to continually buy their way back in, but in the absence of this pay-to-play environment, there is a tendency to impose restrictions on the player in the home console versions, essentially limiting the number of virtual quarters the player has. This necessarily removes some of the accessibility of these titles in favor of an artificial difficulty, but is likely the best compromise available. Joint Strike is no exception to this, and in order to unlock level selects and continues, you must beat the game straight through.

In many ways, Joint Strike is a prime example of what's good about downloadable games from the perspective of an established company, revisiting a classic franchise. While it certainly doesn't contain enough content to warrant a purchase as a full priced game published on physical media, a quality common to many classic arcade games, it works perfectly as something downloadable on a whim, imbued with both modern graphics and classic gameplay.

8

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.