The 1942 series has been around for a long time and has seen several arcade and console releases. 1942: Joint Strike is the first game in the series to hit the next gen consoles and it is the first to feature online co-operative play. Joint Strike maintains the series traditional top down 2D shooter gameplay, but updates it with high quality 2D graphics. The game is available on both the Playstation Network and Xbox Live as a download. This review is for the PS3 version of the game.
The game is still a top down 2D shooter so don’t expect next generation graphics. Instead, Joint Strike offers very solid 2D graphics. The ships are all crisp and detailed. The bosses tend to be very large, some of them take up over half the screen and feature multiple target points to destroy.
Perhaps the biggest graphical upgrade that this version features are the backgrounds. Each level has a distinct and highly detailed background. Often times throughout each level your ship will drop altitude and get closer to the ground showing you even more of the details in the background.
This is an action game, there is no story and hence no dialogue. Instead most of the in game sound will come from the guns and explosions. The sound effects do sound good and throughout most of the game you will be hearing a constant barrage of explosions as you destroy wave of enemy, after wave of enemy.
The in game music is a lot like any other arcade shooter, it’s servicable but chances are you won’t remember the in game music once you are done playing the game.The controls in Joint Strike are pretty basic. You use the left analog stick to move your plane around the screen. The X button fires your main weapon, the Sqaure button fires missles and the Triangle button fires your bombs. Those three buttons are the only ones you will need. The ships do respond nicely to the anaolog stick so you should never feel ripped off when your plane gets destroyed.
Capcom did not stray too far from the 1942 formula for this release. Joint Strike maintains the series tried and true top down shooter formula and it throws waves of enemies at you to shoot.
Throughout the game you will be able to power up three different primary weapons. You can choose from a lazer, a standard machine gun, and a spreader machine gun. You can only have one primary weapon at a time and you power them up by collecting powerup icons that enemy planes drop. You also have heat seaking missles at your disposal. You have a limit of 8 missles but they refill as you kill enemies. Finally, you have bombs that will damage everything on the screen when you drop them.
As I mentioned earlier Capcom has included online co-operative play through the Playstation Network. In this mode the heat seeking missles are replaced with chain attacks that are meant to cause massive damage to the enemy, but usually end up being less effective than the missles. Overall, online play was smooth and I didn’t notice any lag.
Perhaps the oddest decision that Capcom made with Joint Strike is that you cannot continue. Once you lose your last life you have to start all the way over at the beginning of the game. It is pretty unforgiving. Luckily, Capcom has included several difficulty levels, but the only difference I noticed between each difficulty level is that the easier ones give you more lives to start with and don’t actually decrease the challenge.
1942: Joint Strike is available on the PSN for $9.99 so it will not break the pocket book. But, the game only includes five levels and can be beaten by a skilled player in less than an hour. So, if you’re only concerned with beating the game and then moving on to the next game, then you will probably won’t feel like Joint Strike is worth $9.99. The inclusion of co-operative play through the use of two controllers or through the PSN definately adds to the package and gives the game more longevity.
Those players who enjoy the 1942 series and arcade games in general shouldn’t be put off by the games short length, as you will be able to enjoy the game over and over with friends or with anonymous online players.1942: Joint Strike is a solid, but short update to the 1942 series. The inclusion of online co-operative play is a nice addition that works well. Some people will be put off by the lack of continues, but those gamers with top down 2D shooting skills will find a nice challenging game that they can enjoy with others.