1942: First Strike in Review – Three Strikes And Yer Out…

I don’t do it every time, but more often than not when I’m reviewing a vertical scroller I’ll reference 1942.  After all, this was one of my favorites in the genre when I was growing up, and it’s still fun to play today when I come across it in an arcade.  With such fond memories of this game I was nervous about playing the iPhone version, afraid that it might not live up to my expectations, especially from what I read about the controls.  Turns out the controls seem to work just fine.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure the game behind it is worth controlling.

There’s no real story behind who you are or what you’re doing, though I’d imagine the context is World War II.  As for game play, you know the drill.  Fly around the screen, blast everything out of the sky and don’t take names.  Sometimes fallen enemies will leave behind power ups which include 3 different types of weapons, health, extra lives and the legendary “sidekick” boost, which gives you two extra planes to fight along side you until they are destroyed or the level ends.  The game consists of 8 levels, and four of the levels have a huge boss to fight at the end.  So far it sounds like a winning formula, right?

Wrong.  You start the game by picking from one of three ships, each varying in the three categories of speed, attack and defense.  This actually does make a difference in the way the game feels for a while, but once you’ve collected enough bombs and lives and powered your weapon up to the second level the stats don’t really matter.  This game is way too easy.  On my first try I almost beat the game, and probably would have if I had actually used my homing missiles (I didn’t realize I had them until the second game).  The second time I played I chose a different ship and I did beat the game.  I’ve never even beaten the original 1942.  That’s rather depressing in my opinion.

The game allows you to use tilt or touch control to maneuver the ship, and your gun fires automatically.  Bombs and homing missiles are launched from buttons on the lower left and right sides of the screen respectively.  I didn’t actually bother to try the tilt control because touch worked just fine, and from my personal experience, tilt is not a good option for scrolling shooters.  That may be what I need to do to make the game harder, however.  I will say that the one issue with touch controls is that your hand ends up blocking enemies that come up from behind – this was the number one killer for me in this game besides the bosses.

1942 might not be much to look at now, but in its day the visuals were pretty sharp.  The same can’t really be said for First Strike.  Everything seems so tiny except for the bosses.  The landscape looks like something your mildly advanced Microsoft Paint user would turn out.  I’m normally a freak about weather effects, but even those are sub par in First Strike.  The whole idea behind the fog effect is that it is supposed to roll slowly over the playing field, sometimes obscuring your view of the enemy, but in this game it goes by so quickly it almost makes me chuckle.

The audio isn’t a whole lot better.  Sound effects are standard for this type of game, so that’s not worth much other than having them there just so the game isn’t silent.  The music is a combination of cheesy summer blockbuster and an episode of Charlie’s Angels (and no, that’s not good).  Given that these days the soundtrack is often the salvation of a particularly bad scrolling shooter, this is even a bigger letdown for First Strike.

I often offer the developers of a scrolling shooter the advice “go back and play 1942”.  So to the developers of 1942: First Strike I say “go back and play 1942”.  If you’re looking for a Capcom game that gives you warm fuzzies about the old days, check out GHOSTS’N GOBLINS GOLD KNIGHTS. If you want a good scrolling shooter however, check elsewhere.

App Summary
Title: 1942: FIRST STRIKE Developer: CE Europe Ltd
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.1 Min OS Req:
Price: $0.99 (on sale) App Size: 60.5 MB
  • It is a scrolling shooter
  • The controls are decent
  • Way too easy
  • Lackluster visuals
  • Second rate soundtrack


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